Labyrinth of Reflections
is the first novel in the Labyrinth trilogy of cyberpunk novels written by Russian science fiction writer Sergey Lukyanenko. The trilogy consists of Labyrinth of Reflections
, False Mirrors
, and Transparent Stained-Glass Windows
. Between the second and third books, Sergey Lukyanenko authorized the release of a compilation of stories by other authors set in the same world as the trilogy.
The story is set in the near future, where a chance invention allows people to experience virtual reality without the need for costly hardware — a seconds long movie drives a person into a sort of psychosis, forcing one's subconsciousness to perceive a simple 3D game as real world. Soon after the invention, Microsoft and IBM build a virtual city on the Internet called "Deeptown" (named so after the street name for VR — the Deep
), which anyone is free to log on and enter. The painted world becomes a second home for millions people — but some of them 'sink', i.e. forget to return in the reality until dying of dehydration. Only a small group of people calling themselves divers
are capable to leave the Deep at will — gods of the virtual world, they help those who sink and are the best hackers, working on pure intuition.
Philosophy of Deeptown — freedom for all, in all forms — is so attractive for the main hero Leonid, that he considers himself the citizen of the Deeptown the first place, and only then the citizen of his country. When a being from the other world joins Deeptown, Leonid's dreams of freedom encounter pressure of official and unofficial powers of Deeptown.
The second book brings more questions: Leonid realizes that Divers are phagocytes of the world of Deep... and the Deep, the thing he is serving for, is no more an abstract idea of freedom, but whatever it is, it exhibits freedom of will and the sudden flashes of arising artificial intelligence, which in the end leads to the higher level of interactions between Leonid and the Deep.
The third book is a short story originally published online. It features two endings and is told from a point-of-view of a young female MVD operative. She is sent to a virtual prison to ensure that no inmate can escape into Deeptown. Instead, she stumbles upon a secret government project aimed at making divers out of prisoners. Leonid is only mentioned (briefly) twice in the story by other characters.