A series of books by Tad Williams. Sort of cyberpunk, but not in the common vein (i.e. William Gibson or Neal Stephenson). It's about a group of strangers who are united by the fact that something has happened to a child they know to put them into a coma, and they suspect that it has something to do with a massive virtual reality known as Otherland. A bunch of these people end up going to explore the virtual reality in the hopes of finding out what has happened to the children.

Quite good, if slightly long-winded.

The layout of the VR internet-like thing in City of Golden Shadow really reminds of the whole atmosphere of Everything. That, and the fact that both the Otherland series and Everything use the term node very liberally.

The fact of people owning their own nodes, nodes with special interests, and such was all very interesting, and I almost get the same sort of feeling noding on Everything.

Just today, in fact, I finished reading Mountain of Black Glass, and while it was very entertaining to read, I was a little disappointed by the whole lack of the real cyberpunk themes and the very convincing, thought-provoking portrayal of a VR-based version of our modern day internet.

If you're interested in reading about authors' renditions of earth just a few decades into the future, I'd be inclined to recommend David Brin's Earth, which is definitely up there along with Otherland as one of my favorite books (or series of books, as it were...)

Tad Williams has created a fantasy world almost beyond compare in this epic four-part series. As he states in the foreword of Book 2 (River of Blue Fire), it is in reality just one big story, and is only split into four books because:
"1) It would take so long to write that my family and pets would starve, and 2) they couldn't make covers that size, unless they were adapted from circus tents."

"Otherland, a private, multidimensional universe built over two generations by the greatest minds of the twenty-first century, had been one of the world's best kept secrets, created and controlled by an organization made up of the world's most powerful and ruthless individuals, a private cartel known—to those who knew of their existence at all—as The Grail Brotherhood.
(Taken from http://www.tadwilliams.com)

When Renie's brother, Stephen, falls into an unexplained coma, she is devasted. Their mother was killed in an accident and her father is an apathetic alcoholic, seemingly incapable of a normal family life, so Stephen is the only real family she has. In her desperate search for a cause and an explanation for his coma, she stumbles across a parallel between other comas such as his and internet useage. Her investigations eventually lead her to Otherland, a vast and unbelievably real simulation created by the very rich Grail Brotherhood in their massive attempt at immortality. Inside the Otherland network, Renie and her ex-student and close friend !Xabbu meet others who have travelled similar paths and suffered similar pains, including Orlando Gardiner who's story is yet more complicated by the fact that he suffers progeria and is dying.

The Otherland series is one of the most enjoyable series I've ever read. It is complex but not overly confusing, and it is this complexity which gives it a terrifying ring of truth and possibility. It follows the lives of many different people, some of whom are unaware that their stories are linked, and some of whom do not even know their own story. One such is the lost Paul Jonas, a prisoner within the network. He has no memory of entering a simulation, and for a long time is unaware that he is in one.

I don't know that I could explain the full story in less than 10,000 words, so this will have to do! Take my word for it, it's fascinating, entrancing, terrifying, speculative. An absolute must for any science fiction reader.

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