City of Golden Shadow (Otherland Series #1)

City of Golden Shadow (Otherland Series #1)

4.2 76
by Tad Williams
     
 

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The first volume in this mesmerizing story takes readers to the near-future, when a global conspiracy threatens to sacrifice the Earth for the promise of a far more exclusive place--Otherland, a universe where any fantasy can be made real. BOMC alternate selection. Ads in "Locus". HC: Daw. (Fiction--Fantasy)

Overview

The first volume in this mesmerizing story takes readers to the near-future, when a global conspiracy threatens to sacrifice the Earth for the promise of a far more exclusive place--Otherland, a universe where any fantasy can be made real. BOMC alternate selection. Ads in "Locus". HC: Daw. (Fiction--Fantasy)

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Out in paperback at last, this novel, the first in a new magnum opus by the author of The Dragonbone Chair, is a wonderful look at a future in which the use of the Internet has become part of everyday life, and not just the film-noirish fringe. It's also a very solid mystery that grows fangs, teeth, claws, as children begin to lapse into comas from which the medical profession is helpless to rescue them. The two -- the propagation of computer use and the taking of the children -- are intimately connected, as Renie Sulaweyo discovers. But finding out the how and the why will lead Renie, her father, her student, and a handful of other net denizens that live a continent away, into the gateway of the famed and fabled Otherland. Williams is reclaiming the mythic for an audience that isn't interested in suspending its disbelief enough to search it out in fantastic literature, and I can't wait to see where he goes from here. Highly recommended.
—Michelle West
San Francisco Chronicle
The ultimate virtual-reality saga.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Renie Sulaweyo's younger brother, Stephen, returns from the Net after visiting Mister J's, a virtual reality equivalent of the Hellfire Club, she's worried about him. When his next Net trip leaves him in a coma, Renie is terrified and angry. Soon she discovers evidence that other children have lapsed into comas under similar circumstances. A professor of computer science and an adept user of the Net, Renie retraces Stephen's trail and enters Mister J's but barely escapes with her own mind intact. After her adventure, she discovers that someone has downloaded into her computer the impossibly complex image of a fantastic golden city. Then her apartment is fire-bombed, she loses her job and another professor whom she has recruited to help her decipher the mystery is murdered. It's clear that Renie has angered someone with almost unlimited power, but she remains determined to save her brother. In the first book in what is projected to be, in effect, a single, enormous four-volume novel, Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn) proves himself as adept at writing science fiction as he is at writing fantasy. His 21st-century South Africa, where blacks run the government and pursue careers but where whites control most economic power, rings true. His version of the Net, although obviously indebted to Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and other novels, is detailed and fascinating. Best of all, however, are Williams's well-drawn, sympathetic characters, including Renie and her family, her student !Xabbu, the mysterious invalid Mister Sellars and a host of other folk, all of whom hope to solve the mystery of the terrifying VR environment called Otherland. (Nov.)
VOYA - Kevin S. Beach
This futuristic fantasy tale is a true mind bender. The author acknowledges in his preface that it was "hideously complicated to write," but it is a pleasure to read. I was intrigued by the surreal first chapter that opens with a World War I doughboy, trapped in the trenches somewhere in France, who is transported into a fairytale land after an explosion. Many other stories are introduced that are so far removed from each other it seems they will never come together, but they do. The main story line follows a black South African teacher, Renie Sulaweyo, who teaches the used of virtual reality equipment in the near future. Her teenage brother explores a forbidden area of cyberspace and cannot return, his body in real time lying in a coma state. Renie's quest for her brother's safe return leads to the layered unfolding of a global plot by a secret society that is systematically peopling a virtual world with young people's minds. Renie and one of her students, a bushman named !Xabbu, are joined in the quest for answers by an unusual collection of web surfers: a fourteen-year-old boy dying from a premature aging disease who exists in cyberspace as Thargor the barbarian, an alter ego comic book guise; a deformed elderly man confined to a wheelchair on a military base; a serial killer known as Dread; and Paul, the young soldier from World War I. All begin to find their way to a city on the web and join forces to unlock the mystery of the secret society's plan. The book, part of a planned trilogy, ends just as the group escapes a deadly encounter in the city. At an imposing seven-hundred-plus pages, only the most die-hard SF/computer tech fans will stick with it, but the research, writing, and character development are all remarkably well done. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
The first book in a planned tetralogy features Renie Sulaweyo, a black South African professor; her Bushman student; and dozens of other characters enmeshed in the intricately plotted international adventure and suspense thriller set in the near future in which the seductiveness of the net and virtual reality can be extremely dangerous. An exciting addition to the growing virtual reality literature from the author of Caliban's Hour (LJ 11/15/94). Highly recommended for sf collections.
Kirkus Reviews
Another doorstopper fantasy from Williams (The Dragonbone Chair, 1988, etc.), book one of a projected tetralogy large enough to satisfy the most gargantuan appetite. In the near future, a conspiracy of the super-rich and super-powerful has created an exclusive and impregnable virtual reality called Otherland, where the participants adopted the appearance and attributes of Egyptian gods. This Grail Brotherhood seek a McGuffin, the key to whose location is bewildered Paul Jonas, a man plucked—apparently—from the battlefields of WW I. Even though he can't remember anything and has no idea what's going on, Jonas plunges through various weird computer realities, somehow just evading capture. But the Brotherhood's split into factions, one of which is stealing children's minds from ordinary cyberspace. Teacher Renie Sulaweyo—her brother is a victim—and her Bushman friend, !Xabbu, along with various others stumble across the conspiracy and force their way into Otherland. And who is mysterious, crippled old Mr. Sellars, now a prisoner on a military base? Well, after 782 pages of flabby confusion, readers, like most of the characters, will have only the vaguest idea of what it's all about.

If, for whatever reason, you intend to absorb the entire tetralogy, you'll need your reading spectacles, a cool hundred bucks, a prodigious memory, and unlimited patience.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780886777104
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/01/1997
Series:
Otherland Series, #1
Pages:
784
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Tad Williams has held more jobs than any sane person should admit to—singing in a band, selling shoes, managing a financial institution, throwing newspapers, and designing military manuals, to name just a few. He also hosted a syndicated radio show for ten years, worked in theater and television production, taught both grade-school and college classes, and worked in multimedia for a major computer firm. He is cofounder of an interactive television company, and is currently writing comic books and film and television scripts as well. Tad and his family live in London and the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find Tad Williams at tadwilliams.com. 

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City of Golden Shadow 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
kmoberly86 More than 1 year ago
This is the second Tad Williams novel that I have read and it remains one of my favorite books of all time. The first book I read by Tad was Tailchaser's Song, and while that was a good book, it was easy to see the simplistic style of writing. The Otherland series however shows a great deal of growth in writing style and plot development. For those who have not read beyond this novel, I implore you to continue at least through River of Blue Fire. There are four novels total and each one gets better and better. Follow Renie as she searches to find a cure for her brother's sudden comatose state... Get to know Thargor and Pithlit (aka Orlando and Fredricks) as they search for the secret behind the City of Golden Shadow. While I didn't find this book to be a slow start at all, others might be waiting for something more exciting to happen. My advice to them is to bear with it, continue on with the story and you will not be disappointed!
Deborah_Beale More than 1 year ago
Deborah Beale here (Tad partner & wife): we recently received this rave review from Christopher Paolini, and I thought I would take the liberty of posting it here. "Tad Williams is a huge inspiration for me. He's one of the main reasons I started writing fantasy. His books are epic, exciting, and filled with fascinating characters. When it comes to inventing imaginary worlds, he's as skilled as J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert. "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is one of the great fantasy epics of all time. I can't even remember how many times I've read it. It kept me so enthralled, I plowed through the last book in just one sitting! Here be magic, dragons, sprawling battles, thrilling feats of derring-do, ancient mysteries, hidden secrets-all the things a good story needs. These are the books, along with a few others, that led me to write Eragon. "Otherland is an awesome sci-fi story. The scale of Tad Williams' ambition and accomplishments as a storyteller in this series is amazing. He weaves together so many characters, locations, and unique worlds, you can't help but be impressed! Also, with Otherland Tad predicted the rise of the internet and online gaming long before it was invented. "Tad Williams' work is an essential part of any science fiction and fantasy library. I look forward to each new book he writes. If you like exciting, thought-provoking fiction, you owe it to yourself to give Tad a try. "His books are thick enough to stop a bullet! I know!" - Christopher Paolini
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this series, I originally read this series when it was first published; actually, I had to wait for the final book to be written & released. I couldn't wait for him to finish writing it & get the conclusion out to the bookstores. Well worth the wait! I've found all the volumes in this series to be consistently well-written. As it's been some years since I discovered the Otherland saga, I am getting set to read these books again. I was disappointed to find that you cannot get the whole series in e-book format. You CANNOT read these books as stand-alone novels, if you want to get the entire idea behind Tad's concept. If you skip ANY of them you'll miss a LOT!!!! WHY would anyone want to do that?!?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Few people know this, but the Matrix movies were based off of the principle of this book, but Wiliams is more complete than the Wachowski brothers at showing how developing technology will possibly affect the globe. The first book starts slow and concentrates on setting up a theory of computer science that will raise the eyebrows of compsci experts with its insightfullness. Williams also concentrates on building characters and plots throughout the City of Golden Shadow. The second book is where theory turns into adventure. This is, by far, the best series I have ever read. The characters, the dozens of plots that all connect, the ideas and perspectives are all nothing short of spectacular. If you are in search of a read that will stretch your imagination and introduce you to a truly unique cast of players, please PLEASE don't let a slow start disuade you. The four thousand pages of the series are a wonderful adventure that is well worth the journey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I tried to give this book a chance. I really did. I was intrigued at first, but eventually reading this got very tedious. Characters have to keep a story afloat. I really didn't care much about the ones in Otherland. And it takes forever for interesting things to happen. This book was not for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best sci-fi series ever. Williams creates engaging characters in a powerful epic. It was beyond refreshing to see sci-fi with strong females and people of color drawn without stereotype. This series remains in my top 5 (to stand along with Austen, Dickens, James Baldwin, Octavia Butler; yes, it's that good.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book started me on a ride through such mind blowing places that I was disappointed when it came to an end. This was the first series written by Tad Williams that I read and led me to check out all of his works. The characters I traveled with thru these places were as real as they get, and I felt every emotion with them as we journeyed along the river of the author's wondrous imagination. I had a blast reading this series and suggest you give it a chance to take you far away from the mundane. Great storyline and characters that will win you over or make your jaw drop. Cannot say enough, give it a whirl-you won't regret it!
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jaki82 More than 1 year ago
It took 2/3 of the first book to really start to figure out what was going on, but then I got hooked and am now on volume 3, and can hardly put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first book starts slow but trust me...stay with it. When it picks up it does not slow down. This is the first book in a truly engrossing science fiction journey spanning some truly amazing and imaganitive worlds. All the characters at to the grit and flavor and you will find yourself trying to help them through their perdictiment. Trust me. Buy this and the rest of the Otherland series...
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