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Title: Labyrinth of Reflections
Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
A Diver, a person who can exit the Deep at will, is caught up in something much bigger than he can imagine. It starts with him stealing the information for a new “cure for the common cold”, which leads to a job offer by the company he stole it from. He is then kidnapped and given the same job offer by a mysterious Man without a Face. This job? To go to the 33rd level of a first person shooter game and rescue a user who has somehow become stuck and who the company hired Divers can’t rescue.
The Diver has adventures, finds the love of his life in a virtual brothel and rescues the stranded user, only to find that the User isn’t a human. He might be an alien, a human from the future, a human from a parallel universe or a newly emerged computer mind. Nobody knows but they all want a piece of the action.
Leonid, the Diver, takes the rescuee to a safe place and allows him to make his own choice. In the process. Leonid is attacked by all the forces the Deep can muster as well as by the creator of the Deep itself. With the help of the rescuee, Leonid fights them all off and somehow gains the ability to connect to the Deep without a modem (hahahahahahaa). The visitor leaves and Leonid leaves the Deep and decides to meet his virtual love in real life.
This was originally written in ’96 or ’98 I believe and my goodness, does it show. Lukyanenko waxes eloquent about the tech of the day and it isn’t pretty. Pentium computers, MEGS of ram, 28800 modems, Doom. Then he mixes it with non-existing tech like full virtual reality body suits and the Deep, which works on the unconscious as a way to get around the horrible graphics of the day. It was such a mish-mash that it kept throwing me out of the story. You just can’t DO the things he writes about on a 28.8K phone line.
This was pre-Matrix and the ideas are pretty cool, when Lukyanenko isn’t waxing full on melancholic Russian that is. That gets old really fast. And I mean, really, really fast.
This felt more like a book where Lukyanenko was writing out his ideas of what it means to be human (while denying God and Communism in the same breath) and it felt rather sophomoric. At the same time, several of the ideas here were carried over almost wholesale into his Nightwatch series.
Overall, I don’t feel like this was a waste of my time but I certainly wouldn’t want to introduce anyone to Lukyanenko’s writings with this book. I’d definitely steer them towards the Nightwatch.