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Sunday, January 9, 2005

Otherland Final Volume: Sea of Silver Light


Otherland Final Volume: Sea of Silver Light
Tad Williams
Publisher: DAW Books 2002
ISBN: 0756400309

Despite having been on break from school for the last couple of weeks, I haven’t managed to get a lot of reading done. Or rather, I have, but only on a single book – this one.Sea of Silver Light wraps up Tad Williams Otherland series, a four-volume science fiction story that runs about 4000 pages all told. Set in a near future world, Otherland tells the story of a group of people who, for one reason or another, are drawn to investigate a mysterious online network that appears to be involved in/responsible for a number of children falling into comas around the world. Williams’ creates a very large cast, and a very intricate plot, which I will not even attempt to summarize here. There’s just too much that happens to easily summarize…indeed, sometimes, it’s a little much to keep track of.

As an aside: One of the things I loved in this series was that each books begins with a 4-5-page synopsis of the previous book(s). Considering the rising popularity of enormous, multi-volume sci-fi/fantasy series, more authors ought to do this. It makes it MUCH easier to pick up the story without feeling like you need to re-read the previous books first.

On with show:Sea of Silver Light ends the Otherland series, and it does it well. Williams’ manages to address just about every loose plot point by the end of the novel, and even go into detail with some of his answers. Sometimes, the delivery method is a little heavy-handed, but overall, it’s pretty well done. Setting up a mystery is always easier than revealing the mystery, and I enjoyed the way most of the revelations in this story were handled.Some of the endings were a bit anti-climactic, particularly the plotline dealing with Johnny Dread. Williams’ throws in a lot of plot twists, but sometimes, it’s one twist too many. I would have rather seen Dread go out a different way. The fate of Long Joseph and company ends in a similarly uninspired fashion. There are one or two plots that could have been stripped out of this series without much detriment, and Long Joseph and co. was definitely one of them.

In the end, the only major problem I have with this book is that it’s just a bit too long. Williams’ is a good enough writer that you don’t always notice that he’s spent a few chapters dorking around without advancing the plot, but every so often, you’ll start checking page numbers. Still, the concept behind the series is interesting, and it has an African/Australian focus which is unique in a lot of modern sci-fi. Despite the occasional plot drag, it’s definitely worth reading.