Gabriel is one of the Aristoi, the elite class that hold dominion over a glittering interstellar culture, their rule more absolute than that of any Old Earth tyrant. When another of the Aristoi is murdered, Gabriel finds that the foundations of his civilization are tottering, and that his own power may have its roots in the greatest lie in all history.  

In order to defend himself and the interstellar order, Gabriel must go on a quest into the heart of barbarism and chaos, and discover within himself his own lost, tattered humanity. 


“In ARISTOI, [Williams] dares the reader to follow him into a realm where there are no constraints on the desires of his characters, where the wish is not only father to the deed but virtually identical with it […] like one of ARISTOI's highly complex entertainments, this book offers manifold delights.”

The New York Times

“In this complex and rewarding novel, Williams has created a future which features many of the wonders sf has been promising us for years: virtual reality, genetic engineering, faster-than-light travel, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, telepathic links with computers, and more.”

Publishers Weekly

“Williams tests the borders of imagination in a novel that combines brilliant hard science and speculative vision with a firm grip on the central humanity of his characters. A priority purchase for sf collections.”

Library Journal

“Williams follows a course to which most science-fiction writers only pay lip service: with each novel, he tries something completely different […] Williams is prolific, with nine SF novels and innumerable short stories. ARISTOI, his latest novel, is one of his successes […] a fascinating thriller.”

The Seattle Times

“A spectacular, large-scale space opera, in vivid color, with all the stops pulled out. Even better, it chooses to explore themes, not in binary black and white, but with a grayscale palette that leaves the reader wondering who is really right. The result is that rare commodity, a successful entertainment which leaves sobering questions to linger afterwards.”


“Among the stars, virtual reality, biotechnology, and other advances create a society of nearly unlimited potential and equally great complexity […] Science-fiction world-building with technology extrapolated to the extreme limit is a demanding art. It is particularly demanding when one also wishes to make complex characters intelligible, even sympathetic, to a 20th century audience. Williams meets the demands he has set himself, thanks to meticulous care in presenting the details of his world and his characters’ live […] A fine, thoughtful work.”

Chicago Sun-Times

“ARISTOI has many fine literary elements, especially the depiction of multiple personalities within an individual member of the Aristoi and the transcriotion of these simultaneous conversations in the text […] in ARISTOI, [Williams’s] writing reaches a new level of grace and light. This work is highly recommended for grade nine to adult collections.”

Wilson Library Bulletin

Awards & Accolades


Hugo Award Nominee: “Best Novel”