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

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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: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 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: #1,437,421 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.

Customer Reviews

Three and a half stars, really, but rounding up.
Michael Ratner
Dagmar Shaw is the chief executive and owner of Great Big Idea, an alternate reality game company.
Arthur W. Jordin
The problem here was a plot that in the end proved to be less than the sum of its parts.
Sarah Stegall

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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Kaplan VINE VOICE on June 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
I checked The Fourth Wall out of the library. Like many artists, Walter Jon Williams work is not always consistent. I thought that book might be one of his weaker ones, based on the reviews. I was pleasantly surprised. The book is good. Very good.

The book is funny in places and a very good character study of the main character, Sean, who was a child actor whose later career tanked. Interestingly, Dagmar is not the main character. In fact, she is seen from outside, through Sean's eyes. Seeing Dagmar through the eyes of another character is an interesting dimension.

In many way this is a straight up novel. There are science fiction bits, but they are somewhat tangential to the character driven plot. Walter Job Williams has spent some time working on screen plays and he took this experience and used it to provide a lot of the color in the novel.

In many cases I'm slow to catch on to plots, but even I saw the driving reason behind the plot early on. What was interesting was that in the end it didn't matter that much. At least not to Sean, the main character. Perhaps "the big reason" worked, perhaps it didn't. We don't know. Sean is skeptical and so would I be. But it didn't matter that much to Sean and it didn't matter much to me as a reader. I think that some people objected to this. But as with the movie that Sean was in, this is a story where the character develops and it is the character's development that drives the story.

Well written science fiction uses the science fiction elements to provide a setting to expand on interesting ideas or develop characters. This is definitely the case with The Fourth Wall. If you're looking for hard core science fiction you probably will not like this book.
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