With Sea of Silver Light
, Tad Williams completes his massive Otherland quartet, one of SF's more intriguing explorations of the eroding boundaries of the human and the nonhuman, the living and the dead. Otherland is a sequence that contains many secrets, and Williams plays fair by unpacking all of them in the final book. A group of adventurers searching for a cure for comatose children find themselves trapped in a sequence of virtual worlds, the only opponents of a conspiracy of the rich to live forever in a dream. Now, they are forced to make an uneasy alliance with their only surviving former enemy against his treacherous sidekick Johnny Wulgaru, a serial killer with a chance to play God forever.
Williams manages a vast cast of emotionally involving characters with considerable panache, but the real strength of the book is its endlessly questing intelligence; it is, among other things, an enquiry into the nature of storytelling as a way for human beings to give structure to their perceptions of the universe around them. It is as story that Sea of Silver Light ultimately works so well--involving us in the grueling descent of a vast mountain, the siege of an underground fortress, gun battles in a nightmare Wild West. Williams never neglects to tell us how things feel. He efficiently ties up every plot strand and convincingly reveals every secret in this large, complex plot. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
This stunning finale to the gigantic Otherland tetralogy (City of Golden Shadow, etc.), a brilliant fusion of quest fantasy and technological SF, is sure to please Williams's many fans. Otherland, a complete universe co-existent with the real world, incorporates elements of the Arabian Nights, the Alice and Oz books, the Neanderthal Age, the Trojan War, rewritten Roman history (Hannibal returns three centuries after his death to crush Rome, without elephants), as well as numerous nursery rhymes and fables. An enormous cast of courageous humans confronts monstrous insects, unimaginable dangers and all the appurtenances of fantastic adventure. At nearly 700 pages this is a mighty mouthful to swallow, but a well-crafted if convoluted plot sustains interest through the lengthy climax, which explains the inexplicable. Those scenes grounded in a recognizable world are the most compelling. Individuals may live in both worlds, despite Otherland being only made of "light and numbers." Characters dead in real life can still be alive in the virtual world, as in the poignant plight of a young woman, whose dress and manners are 18th century, who's in love with a young man snatched, apparently, from the trenches of WWI. Are they real or "sims" (simulations)? Generously, the author supplies two master villains: one for whom we may begrudge some respect; for the other, no mercy. The Otherland books are a major accomplishment. Agent, Matt Bialer. (Apr. 10)Forecast: Williams should enjoy another run up the genre bestseller lists with this strong concluding volume.
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