The Maze Game, paperback
The Maze Game tells the story of a cult of mortal Death Dancers who, for 2000 years, have kept the immortal Lifers riveted to a game of combat in a maze leading inevitably to the spectacle of the Dance of Death. The maze itself is made of the signs of a language, Glide, revealed to the Dancers by the hallucinogenic blue water Lily. Now, the survival of the game itself is threatened. Dancemaster Wallenda and the four young Dancers of the Millennium Class battle Joreen, the drug lord plotting to regain control of the game. Wallenda is forced by Joreen to reveal the dark secrets of the maze game’s origin, at the risk of destroying his students’ commitment to Dance. But the greatest force undermining the game is love. As they train for and compete in the Millennium Games, each Dancer confronts the shifting faces of love and idealism, and comes to terms with the multiple meanings of the maze game, the Glide language, and the Dance of Death.
The Language and the Novel
Twined like the double spiral of the DNA molecule, the close coupling of language and consciousness is revealed in myths of language origin. As I began to work out the details of the game that was at the heart of the story, a language called Glide emerged. The glyphs of the language formed the patterns and physical structures on which the maze game was played. As the plot unfolded, it became evident that the Glide language was intricately involved at every level of the story, and was, in a sense, both generating the story, a driving force in the evolution of both events and characters, and, itself, a character in the story.
The novel, The Maze Game, re-tells a linguistic tale of origin, thus: The 27 glyphs of the Glide language emerged from the bottom muck of a vast lily pond. The pollen of the giant blue water lilies distilled into a powerful entheogen, the Wine of the Lilies. The pollen was harvested by small-bodied people who could scoop and glide from lily pad to lily pad smoothly and swiftly enough to avoid being tipped into the water, tangled in the roots, and consumed by the omnivorous lily. The Glides, breathing the raw pollen, cross-pollinated the lily as they harvested. The lily, in appreciation of their efforts, gave them a language, Glide, first as an extension of the gestures of harvesting and pollination, later in written form.
Praise for The Maze Game
A recent review of The Maze Game.
“In a world where no one ever dies, what gives life purpose? In the Maze Game, Diana Slattery has created an amazing work of science fiction that probes certain questions of the future in a way that is unfamiliar, disturbing, beautiful and cruelly savage” –Sun McNamee
This book is like a recurring dream—haunting, prophetic, a wish fulfilled. Diana Slattery’s investigations of the future approach the limits of what can’t be said. She is a true visionary and The Maze Game infused with love, grace, crazy wisdom and humor is the work of a lifetime.
—Lewis Warsh, Editor, United Artists
The Maze Game is a remarkable achievement, envisioning a society in which elaborate rituals have evolved around a visual language that can gestured but not spoken. Working at the crossroads of electronic and print literature, Diana Slattery breaks new ground in thinking about the multiple sensory modalities through which experience can be transformed into narrative. A must-read for anyone interested in science fiction, electronic literature, and the future of narrative.
—Katherine Hayles, Author, How We Became Post-Human
To say that Diana Reed Slattery’s novel is required reading seems so inadequate–inadequate because this book is necessary in the same way that breathing is. The Maze Game is as essential as air. It will, along with its companion Glide Collabyrinth, revolutionize the play and practice of fiction.
—Carolyn Guertin, Curator,
Assemblage, The Women’s New Media Gallery
Imagine being a goldfish swimming in your bowl, and suddenly five finger ends appear beneath the surface of your universe. They waggle simultaneously. In that instant, your goldfish brain sparks with the revelation that your world is a world of appearances beneath the surface of a higher order, a projection of some more intelligent dimension or deus ex machina. There is a class of wonderful fictions that puts us in the goldfish bowl. In this genre, the higher dimension is a cosmic game with formal rules and moves that are beyond the ken of the characters who play them out. Robert Coover’s The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh’s Prop, Nabokov’s ADA, Italo Calvino, Raymond Roussel, Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table. They are all ambitious, all meticulous, all boundary shattering, all inspired, all epistemologically potent. All implicitly comment on the metaphysical order of things and on the nature of authorship itself. Diana Slattery’s The Maze Game joins the class, and may even catapult to its head. It is both passionate and constrained and, like all the rest, a wonderfully peculiar work of genius.
—David Porush, Author The Soft Machine: Cybernetic Fictions and creator of Gameworld, the AI narrative platform.
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