I thought I would do another review of a book that has influenced me as a writer, and this time it is Tad Williams’ City of Golden Shadow. This is the first book in the quadroligy Otherland and it gave me look into the world of Tad Williams. It was the first of his books I read and it deals deeply with the future of the Internet.
The story follows mainly Renie Sulaweyo and her Kalaharian Bushman friend, !Xabbu, but it also intersects with viewpoints from Paul Jonas, WW I soldier, who all of a sudden finds himself in an Alice in Wonderland kind of world and Orlando Gardiner, a terminally ill child, who spends most of his time in the virtual world of Middle Country.
When Renie’s younger brother falls into a mysterious coma, she tries to find the source of his strange condition. She discovers clues about a hidden network called Otherland and as she descends into its world, the darker secrets she discovers and the closer she gets to her brother.
The Otherland deals with a lot of what we can assume is the future of the Internet and consequences of totally immersing oneself into a game or a world. It deals with a lot of the same themes as in Neuromancer and has on the same level predicted a lot of the same things that we now see in the digital society we have. Illegal markets where commodties are exchanged for digital currencies and games where people are completely free to be the one they most likely want to be. It shows us the ugly side of being able to hide behind a digital mask, yet while also showing the benefits. It can be a little heavy in the start, but I highly recommend it and it suits most experienced sci-fi readers. Especially if said reader is a fan of books like Neuromancer.