Otherland: Volume 1

I’ve heard a lot about Tad Williams without having read anything by him. Often considered one of the father’s of modern fantasy, plenty of fantasy authors you do know count him as an inspiration.

Which is why I was surprised when Otherland turned out to be straight science fiction. Not a bad surprise, but I was expecting fantasy. In the future, everyone enjoys VR a la Ready Player One. Your wildest fantasies can come true in the virtual world. But there are limits to what can be accomplished and seen. A shadowy group is spending a lot of money to break those limits. And children around the world are falling into comas because of it.

My description isn’t long but this book sure is. It is HEFTY. And like most books, filled with WORDS. Whatever you think of Tad Williams, you have to immediately acknowledge the man knows how to write. Building a scene, establishing characters, unique similes, you can see why this author is a popular one. There’s an ease and flow to his prose that only a pro achieves.

My issue with the book is the length. It is so long. And the main characters: Renie and !Xabbu, while interesting, start to get boring by measure of long stretches of not much happening to them. It’s broken up by brief adventures with other minor characters, but when you’re reading faster just to get to a different character’s perspective, it’s not as fun.

The plot is interesting and feels quite unique. Clearly an inspiration for Ready Player One. But I’m struggling justifying picking up the next novel. I didn’t digest it at the speed I’d want to for a novel of this size. But, the prose is fantastic and I will attempt another Williams book again. Probably not this series though.

2.5 out of 4 stars

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