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The Fourth Wall (Dagmar Shaw) Paperback – February 13, 2012

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Frequently Bought Together

The Fourth Wall (Dagmar Shaw) + Deep State + This Is Not a Game (Dagmar Shaw)
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Product Details

  • Series: Dagmar Shaw
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 Original edition (February 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316133396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316133395
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,117,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The blending of myster-thriller, SF,
and traditional Hollywood-story elements is hugely successful. Surely the best of the Dagmar Shaw series and one of the author's finest novels."—Booklist

"There are powerful ideas stirring beneath the skin of what to a first approximation resembles a taut technothriller, and it's brilliantly executed." --- Charles Stross on Deep State

"The characters are realistic and absorbing, and the story deeply compelling." --- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on This Is Not a Game

"This Is Not a Game succeeds not only as a suspense novel, but as an incisive portrait of a subculture for whom reality is increasingly contingent, and increasingly mediated." --- Locus

"Williams asks some tough questions about the boundary between games and reality, and shows how in the end, the only thing we can be sure is real is the communities we create, and the games we play together." --- on This Is Not a Game

"Great shut-out-the-world escapism & a decent crime story in 1 book!"— onThe Fourth Wall

About the Author

Walter Jon Williams has been nominated repeatedly for every major SF award, including Hugo and Nebula Award nominations for his novel City on Fire. His most recent books are The Sundering, The Praxis, Destiny's Way, and The Rift. Walter Jon Williams lives near Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife.

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Customer Reviews

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  • "Writing" 4
  • "Characters" 3
  • "Action" 3
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kennedy Gammage on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Or maybe a combination of Anthony Trollope and Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams continues to riff on `the way we live now' in his latest near-future thrillers about new media developer Dagmar Shaw, starting with This is Not a Game, and then Deep State, which predicted the Twitter Revolution months before Arab Spring. Now in The Fourth Wall, Williams switches it up with a new narrator: ex-child star Sean Makin, who we meet slumming on a martial arts reality TV show called Celebrity Pitfighter, and then becomes a bona fide worldwide celebrity, acting lead in Dagmar's surprise hit Web 2.0 pay-per-view serial (think HBO for hand-helds) - when suddenly Makin's friends and co-workers start getting killed. The Fourth Wall is fast-paced, paranoid and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. Hopefully there's a sequel in the works.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Marino on February 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For those who have read the other two Dagmar books (This Is Not a Game and Deep State), the first thing that might surprise you is that Dagmar plays a very small part. By the end of the second book, she has gone from a person who worries about getting stuck in a riot to a person who can walk into a country and start a revolution. There is little room for character growth. (She is also a bit preoccupied with popping out a kid.)

The protagonist of the Forth Wall is a former child star who is doing an almost passable job at returning his career from the land of third world syndication. Parts of the book are about him dealing with his drinking and substance issues (This is not done in a heavy handed way). Some of the book is about him dealing with the way his parents exploited him as a kid. Most of the book covers people around him being murdered and his attempting to make sure he is not next.

Perhaps, what I like best about this book (and the writing of the author) is that he does not hand you the big ideas. The words, "Fourth Wall" do not appear anywhere between the covers. The author assumes you know what the forth wall is. If you do not, he assumes you will look it up. When thinking about the title, after reading the book, it puts the story in a different perspective. (Thank you for not assuming your readers are a bunch of morons.)

I do not wish to give too much of the book away. I will say, it is very funny in places, with some of the best developed characters Williams has created to date. This book gets five of five.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Stegall on May 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
The trouble with writing "near future" thrillers is that they become obsolete five minutes after they're published, due to the pace of technological innovation. I have not read the previous books in this series, so I come to The Fourth Wall with no expectations. Well, some expectations: Walter Jon Williams is an outstanding science fiction writer, so I expected science fiction. What I got was a noir-ish thriller, and if there were any science-fictional elements in it, I missed them. In any case, the basic idea of the story didn't work for me, possibly because the idea of an extremely wealthy person trying to manipulate world opinion isn't very new. (I believe his name is Rupert Murdoch.) I love Williams' prose, and his characters are sharply drawn, witty, and believable. The problem here was a plot that in the end proved to be less than the sum of its parts. The pace is fun, however, and the wicked skewering of Hollywood and its self-involved denizens is expertly done. Williams' best talent is his sardonic wit, and he uses it to good effect in many of the internal monologues.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Daniel S. Palter on February 20, 2012
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This is less the third book in the This is not a Game/Dagmar series than a third book in that universe. It is a near future seen from the POV of the gaming [and in this case movie/celebrity] industry/s. The characters are excellent. The action is wonderful. The man clearly knows the industries and types he is skewering. I thoroughly enjoyed it...until the end which was the sort of let down one frequently gets in middle volumes in series [which AFAIK this isn't]. If you ever read Heinlein's Glory Road you will understand the feeling. Enough loose ends are tied together but in the most obvious of ways and then it just sort of ends. If that disturbs you this is a pass which is sad because 90% of the way through it was a hell of a ride, enough so that someday I may reread it. Would not have even taken much more length to make the ending more fun...IMO. YMMV. (
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on February 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Fourth Wall (2012) is the third SF novel in this series, following Deep State. The initial volume in this sequence is This Is Not a Game. In the previous volume, Jerry and Danny were trapped at a CIA station in the High Zap Mountains. They had successfully tested an electronic weapon that knocked out electronic controls, but now they could not leave the station.

Then word was received that the Turks were coming to take the station and they had to leave. They hastily packed their luggage and equipment into a VW and drove down the winding road to the highway. They turned left toward Sirnak. Later they learned that the gizmo was not in the car.

GBI had a contract to publicize the latest James Bond movie shot in Turkey. Dagmar and her crew had designed a large scale alternate reality game that took place in Turkey. Unfortunately, a military junta had taken over the country since the movie was filmed.

Dagmar had a fear of military juntas since the episodes in Jakarta. She even turned her bed at an angle to remind her that she wasn't in Indonesia. She doubted that she could stand more such experiences.

Dagmar hired a new crew, including several Turks. They advertised a Mystery Tour and hundreds of people joined the giant cavalcade. Many of the gamers were Turks newly introduced to ARGs.

In this novel, Sean Makin is twenty-nine year old actor. He has pedomorphois, giving him a big head and large eyes. He was a cute kid and became a child star, but his career peaked at thirteen and has since tanked.
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