Dance for the Ivory Madonna
by Don Sakers

Book Group
Discussion Questions

  1. In what ways does the novel address the concept of identity? What different identities are assumed by the characters, and why? How do different characters reconcile their various identities? Who are the real Miranda, Damien, Penylle, Marc?

  2. What do you think of the geopolitical situation in the book? Is the Nexus Interdict a reasonable institution? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Umoja? Would you like to take part in a Umoja-style election? How likely is it that the U.S. will fragment as depicted in the novel? Do you like or dislike the Chamber of Ministers? Why?

  3. How do the different areas of cyberspace -- cyberbia, Virtua, and El Juego -- relate to the action of the book? How do the characters relate to cyberspace? Were the AIs right to cast humans out of cyberspace?

  4. How does the author make the AIs seem totally alien and yet comprehensible to the reader? Do you think this portrayal of the AIs is successful?

  5. The book tells three alternating stories. Damien's story takes place in the present, and in flashbacks we see first Penylle's life, then Miranda's life in reverse. Do you think this technique is effective, or did you find it complicated and confusing? Why do you think the author chose this structure?

  6. Much of the background information is presented in the form of small pieces between chapters. How do these pieces relate to the action of the book and the concerns of the characters? Did you find this technique effective?

  7. What do you think of the inclusion of real historical events in the narrative? Schould science fiction avoid references to real-world history and people?

  8. In what different ways do games figure into the novel? What do games and gaming mean to the different characters? In what ways do various characters choose to pursue their objectives through games?

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