Sunday, 19 April 2009

Tad Williams: Otherland, River of Blue Fire

This second novel in the Otherland saga took me a long time to finish which is not a good sign. This large volume (700 pages +) fleshes out the story world somewhat but advances the plot by very little. I can't help feeling that this whole book is unnecessary and with tighter writing the important parts could have been squeezed into the other volumes. On the plus side William's characterisation remains head and shoulders above the wooden stereotypes we are more used to in Fantasy novels and the overall saga still retains my interest. I have already started on book 3 which happily seems to be progressing at a faster pace.

Aside: There is an Otherland MMO currently in development. I hadn't realised this until I spotted this article in Massively. Sounds very interesting, since the books are largely set in a virtual world they give lots of scope for mmo type stuff. One feature of the novels that I hope is replicated is the ability to move between completely different sim worlds. You could be flee from a battle in Ancient Egypt and tuumble into a HG Wellsian London. More information here.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Otherland: City of Golden Shadow by Tad Willliams

Tad Williams is a good writer and not just in a Science Fiction / Fantasy sense. He writes very readable prose with very well developed characters that stand up well alongside the best of contemporary non-genre fiction. Otherland is Tad's take on Cyberpunk and "City of Golden Shadow" is the opening volume in this saga. The book was written in the mid 1990's and William's cyberspace is more down to earth than Gibson's angular vector graphic inspired visions from the previous decade. In many ways Otherland seems like Second Life with added multimodal input. There is even an mmorpg described in the book that is not dissimilar to the games we play today (Hardcore afficionado's will be pleased to note that Williams' mmorpg has perm-death). A good adventure story set in an engrossing world with well drawn well written characters. All in all a very good read if a little over long.