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.
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