The First book in the Tad Williams Otherland series (some would say epic).
Otherland is a Sci-Fi series, highly similar to William Gibson's Neuromancer. It is based in a world of VR inspired networking, with cross cultural elements into the real world. The premise for these particular stories is about our group of heroes who they have all lost child friends (or loved ones) and are searching for them in a 'new' and secret component of the VR network.
Book one introduces us to the major characters:
- Renie. A south African woman trying to puzzle out what happened to her brother, who is in a coma. She also has her Father, Long Joseph, and a friend's houseman Dako, in her 'group'
- !Xabbu. A bushman (aboriginal person of South Africa), a previous student of Renie, and a stalwart friend.
- Martine. A woman in France who helps Renie but never displays her face, and interacts in/with the net in an odd manner.
- Orlando. A bed ridden sick boy in America, who stumbled across an imagine of Otherland whilst playing a roleplaying sim.
- Fredricks. Orlando's partner in crime and friend, as they have only ever met online, there is a predicable twist here..
- Mr Sellars. A strange wheelchair bound, and badly scarred (from, we are lead to believe, hideous burns) man, who lives and never leaves a military base somewhere in the US
- Christabel. This young (pre-teen ?) girl who also lives on the base, and against her parents wishes visits and runs errands for Mr Sellars.
- Paul Jonas. He keeps changing his environment, and has no memory of who/what he is, aside form his name. He keeps meeting up with a young boy, everytime he changes 'worlds'
- Dread, a man who works for the Otherworld bosses, is a serial killer, and has mental powers he refers to as 'Twisting' which affect electronics.
This book is exciting and well paced, swapping characters frequently and sucks the reader in after only a few pages. Although Tad Williams does tend to write very long books/series this is a good first book whose story quickly has many threads and storylines which will satisfy many readers' requirements.