pano-coverEmilija Lithuan is gang-raped on a prison planet, rescued by a prisoner who turns out to have been an experimental subject in the great technological plans of the great computer S.Y.M.A.C. They escape, only to be caught up in a sort of grand conceptual battle between S.Y.M.A.C. and the priests of Caytalan Church.

Panoptemitry is, on the surface, an adventure taking humans and androids from a prison planet through space on a quest for knowledge, truth, and power. The story is action-packed and complex, and the characters’ interactions are interesting.

The best part of the book, though, is the exploration of concepts of life. Can machines be sufficiently advanced to be alive? Can a network of consciousness be a living being — or a god? Abortion, death sentences, life sentences, the concept of inferior and superior beings, killing for a higher good — the story examines all the philosophical concepts surrounding the definition of life and the value of life.

This is not a stylishly written book, but it could be an interesting choice for a book group.