Aristoi (novel)

Aristoi (novel)

infobox Book |
name = Aristoi
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Cover of first edition (hardcover)
author = Walter Jon Williams
illustrator =
cover_artist = Jim Burns
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Science fiction novel
publisher = Tor Books
release_date = 1992
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
pages = 448 pp
isbn = ISBN 0-312-85172-3
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Aristoi" is a 1992 science fiction novel by Walter Jon Williams. It was one of the preliminary candidates for the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Novel in a particularly competitive year (only the second year in the award's history in which there was a tie). The cover art for "Aristoi" was nominated for the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Original Artwork.


The novel describes a technologically advanced society with a rigid hierarchy of social classes, based on examinations. The top class, the "Aristoi," are given the ultimate responsibility: that of managing nanotechnology.

One feature of this novel is that the Aristoi can split their minds into "daimones", or "limited sub-personalities", all which can operate as independent mental entities subjugated under the will of the main 'self' of the Aristoi. In virtual reality, deployed through an implanted brain-computer interface, these can even be manifested as distinct individuals. This virtual reality is named "Oneirochronon." The storage of all human information is called "Hyperlogos". The device used for the interface is called a "Reno", suggesting a link to Williams' earlier cyberpunk novels Hardwired and which deal with a near-future Earth.

In this future, the earth was destroyed by "Mataglap Nano", a gray goo scenario, which led in part to the current culture.

The Aristoi are the only people authorized to develop and use nanotechnology. The Aristoi are the unquestioned rulers of humanity, somewhere between government and gods. Each Aristoi controls a domaine comprising one or more planets on which they impose their rules and modify so that it resembles the Aristoi's individuality. For example, If an Aristos/Ariste is interested in architecture, his/her domaine will show so through its educational system and the structure of its buildings. Another example of Aristoi's power is the ability to declare a planetary holiday whenever desired.

Also in this novel, Williams frequently uses the device of splitting the text into two columns in order to represent characters' simultaneous interactions with multiple daimones and/or persons.

ociety In General

The society works on a rigid hierarchy of social classes. These classes are determined through examination and thus giving everyone an opportunity to advance in whichever field they choose.

The whole society has access to unlimited amounts of information about everything around. There are no restrictions on what a person can know or find out except for the "Seal Of Aristoi". This seal is the only clump of data that ordinary people have no access to.

Homosexuality is accepted in this society and same-sex couple can have children through the technology available. One of the examples of this is Gabriel (the main character) impregnating his lover Marcus.

The lower ranking society members (Demos) are usually in need of religion and therefore praise their domaine leaders as Gods. One such example is Gabriel's church named the "Church of New Thoth" called so after Gabriel's own unique symbol, "Thoth".


Breakdown is a disease that reverts the artificial bodily programming. This programming stops the body from aging (age stabilization) and after a certain amount of time the whole body goes into chaos and the person suffering from "Breakdown" dies within days. There is no cure.


Gabriel Vissarionovich Aristos - The main character in the story. He has several daimones including the intuitive Augenblick, the manipulative Welcome Rain, compassionate Bear, among others. A major plot development revolves around the revelation of a new daimon which refuses to be named.

Therapon ex-Hextarchon Vashti- or simply Vashti is Gabriel's true biological mother (one of six other parents; only two contributed biological material) and she is the new head of Church of New Thoth.

Therapn Tritarchon Clancy - also known as Blushing Rose is another one of Gabriel's lovers; she calls Gabriel "Disturber" in return. She is a medical doctor. It is suggested she has the capacity to become an Ariste.

Marcus - Gabriel's lover, whom he impregnates at the beginning of the novel through a surgical procedure. Gabriel builds him a palace called "Standing Wave" which utilizes technology that controls gravity inside of the building. Gabriel calls him the "Black-Eyed Ghost".

Zhenling Ariste - Part of the ruling class, Zhenling (True Jade or True Sound) wishes to revive certain gene patterns that are mainly suppressed, such as traits encouraging exploration.


"You are who you are," he said. "Suppressing one's inner nature is torture and bitterness."

"I'm a foreigner," he said. "These local prejudices are incomprehensible to me. Why interfere between a human being and his happiness?"

These people, with their fragmented psyches, could not resist a whole human being who wished to direct his entire force against them.

"Your duty to your family and your party and your God and your bride is clear," Gabriel said. "But what do you owe yourself? What contentment is your lot?"


* [ Page referencing 1993 Hugo preliminary picks]

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