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Otherland I
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About the Author

Tad Williams has held more jobs than any sane person should admit to--singing in a band, selling shoes, managing a financial institution, throwing newspapers, and designing military manuals, to name just a few. He also hosted a syndicated radio show for ten years, worked in theater and television production, taught both grade-school and college classes, and worked in multimedia for a major computer firm. He is cofounder of an interactive television company, and is currently writing comic books and film and television scripts as well. Tad and his family live in London and the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find Tad Williams at tadwilliams.com.

Reviews

When Renie Sulaweyo's younger brother, Stephen, returns from the Net after visiting Mister J's, a virtual reality equivalent of the Hellfire Club, she's worried about him. When his next Net trip leaves him in a coma, Renie is terrified and angry. Soon she discovers evidence that other children have lapsed into comas under similar circumstances. A professor of computer science and an adept user of the Net, Renie retraces Stephen's trail and enters Mister J's but barely escapes with her own mind intact. After her adventure, she discovers that someone has downloaded into her computer the impossibly complex image of a fantastic golden city. Then her apartment is fire-bombed, she loses her job and another professor whom she has recruited to help her decipher the mystery is murdered. It's clear that Renie has angered someone with almost unlimited power, but she remains determined to save her brother. In the first book in what is projected to be, in effect, a single, enormous four-volume novel, Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn) proves himself as adept at writing science fiction as he is at writing fantasy. His 21st-century South Africa, where blacks run the government and pursue careers but where whites control most economic power, rings true. His version of the Net, although obviously indebted to Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and other novels, is detailed and fascinating. Best of all, however, are Williams's well-drawn, sympathetic characters, including Renie and her family, her student !Xabbu, the mysterious invalid Mister Sellars and a host of other folk, all of whom hope to solve the mystery of the terrifying VR environment called Otherland. (Nov.)

The first book in a planned tetralogy features Renie Sulaweyo, a black South African professor; her Bushman student; and dozens of other characters enmeshed in the intricately plotted international adventure and suspense thriller set in the near future in which the seductiveness of the net and virtual reality can be extremely dangerous. An exciting addition to the growing virtual reality literature from the author of Caliban's Hour (LJ 11/15/94). Highly recommended for sf collections.

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