Dreaming Metal by Melissa Scott (1997).
No word cloud for this book, it isn’t on the net.
This book is a sequel to Dreamships (1992). I haven’t read Dreamships and as this book is clearly a sequel that left some gaps in this book. I didn’t know it was a sequel when I started it, but it is very clear.
That said, I enjoyed Dreaming Metal immensely. It’s one of the best written and most original books I’ve read in quite a while. The setting, an human settled world, is very interesting–complex, and yet very foreign and intriguingly different from the societies in most sf.
There is a lot that is not explained–Scott doesn’t give one of those top down explanations of the society, and the plot runs at the mid level of the society. I don’t know how much of this is covered in the first book of the series, I hope it handles it similarly. And interestingly, it’s not clear what the political system is. The characters are free to act within the plot, but there appear to be limits, different from the US, but not clear because the story isn’t about that, and the characters don’t butt up against them.
This book is about AI and music. It posits a world where AI is rare but crops up now and then, and it is considered inevitable but not predictable. It is very well written and Celinde Fortune is a great character. As described, the future of music sounds great. Also, deafness is common on Persephone, and signing and other physical performance is a integral part of the music.
Melissa Scott only wrote these two books in this universe.