I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Renie Sulaweyo, a teacher in the South Africa of tomorrow, realizes something is wrong on the network. Kids, including her brother Stephen, have logged into the net, and cannot escape. Clues point to a mysterious golden city called Otherland, but investigators all end up dead.
My previous experience with Williams’ writing was his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, so this book was a bit of a shock to the system! While that series took place in a rather mediaeval setting, this one is set in the future and largely in virtual reality.
One thing that remains consistent is the size of each book, being rather brick-like. It took my about 170 pages before I was convinced that I really wanted to read this volume. It reminded me of a lot of books that I’ve read before. The little vignettes at the beginning of each chapter made me think of Stand on Zanzibar. All the virtual environments were reminiscent of Neuromancer and as characters plugged things into their bodies, I thought of When Gravity Fails. The time spent in Eight Squared (a chess board), complete with a Red Queen threatening “Off with their heads” was obviously referencing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The emphasis on Egyptian mythology also reminded me of The Anubis Gates. The guy without a memory running through the virtual word made me think of The Bourne Identity. Early in the book, our amnesiac man has a “Jack and the Bean Stalk” adventure too.
This is another conspiracy-theory heavy story. I seem to have run into several of those lately. I’m relieved that I finally found my footing around the 200 page mark, as there are three more books in the series and on my reading list. They may still end up being tough sledding, but at least I have a bit of hope!
Book number 336 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.