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Authors: Tad Williams

Tags: #Science Fiction, #General, #Fantasy, #Fiction, #Fantasy Fiction, #Epic, #Immortality, #Otherland (Imaginary place)

Sea of Silver Light

BOOK: Sea of Silver Light
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OTHERLAND

Volume Four

SEA OF
SILVER LIGHT

Tad Williams

CONTENTS

Title

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Author's Note

City of Golden Shadow: Synopsis

River of Blue Fire: Synopsis

Mountain of Black Glass: Synopsis

Foreword

Table of Contents

First: - A VOYAGE IN THE HEART

CHAPTER 1 - Strange Bedfellows

CHAPTER 2 - Execution Sweet

CHAPTER 3 - Restless Natives

CHAPTER 4 - In Silver Dreaming

CHAPTER 5 - The Last Fish to Swallow

CHAPTER 6 - Talking to Machines

CHAPTER 7 - The Man from Mars

CHAPTER 8 - Listening to the Nothing

CHAPTER 9 - Hannibal's Return

CHAPTER 10 - The Land of Glass and Air

Second: - GHOST SONGS

CHAPTER 11 - Yours Very Sincerely

CHAPTER 12 - The Boy in the Well

CHAPTER 13 - King Johnny

CHAPTER 14 - The Stone Girl

CHAPTER 15 - Confessional

CHAPTER 16 - Badlands

CHAPTER 17 - Breathing Problems

CHAPTER 18 - Making a Witch

CHAPTER 19 - The Bravest Man in the World

CHAPTER 20 - Thompson's Iron

CHAPTER 21 - Handling Snakes

CHAPTER 22 - More Very Bush

Third: - THE DYING HOUR

CHAPTER 23 - Orientation

CHAPTER 24 - Getting out of Dodge

CHAPTER 25 - The Hidden Bridge

CHAPTER 26 - Flies and Spiders

CHAPTER 27 - The Green Steeple

CHAPTER 28 - Master of His Silence

CHAPTER 29 - Stony Limits

CHAPTER 30 - Climbing the Mountain

CHAPTER 31 - Romany Fair

CHAPTER 32 - Bad House

Fourth: - SORROW'S CHILDREN

CHAPTER 33 - Weekend Hours

CHAPTER 34 - Desert Smile

CHAPTER 35 - Rainbow's Shoe

CHAPTER 36 - Without a Net

CHAPTER 37 - The Locked Room

CHAPTER 38 - Boy in Darkness

CHAPTER 39 - Broken Angel

CHAPTER 40 - The Third Head of Cerberus

CHAPTER 41 - Playing the Knight

CHAPTER 42 - Old School

CHAPTER 43 - Tears of Ra

CHAPTER 44 - Stolen Voices

CHAPTER 45 - Send

CHAPTER 46 - Thoughts Like Smoke

CHAPTER 47 - Star Over Louisiana

CHAPTER 48 - Unreal Bodies

CHAPTER 49 - The Next

Fifth: - INHERITORS

CHAPTER 50 - No Promises

CHAPTER 51 - Watching Cars Explode

CHAPTER 52 - The Oracle Surprised

CHAPTER 53 - Borrowed House

Afterword

An ocean of silver emptiness . . .
Flickers of light, the smearing of broken spectra, a fine dust of luminance . . . but nothing else. The shimmery cloudstuff that had girdled the mountain seemed to be all around her now, although she could sense something hard and horizontal beneath her. She was not bodiless—it was not a dream this time. Her hands crawled over her own flesh and to the ground on either side, a ground she could not even see. She was lost in a heavy, shining fog, everything and everyone else gone.
She walked a half-dozen careful paces, testing each footstep before setting it down. The ground was absolutely flat. There was nothing else—no precipice, no vertical stone slab of mountain, no sound, no light except the ubiquitous pearly gleam of the mist. Even the fog had no substance: it shimmered wetly but was not wet. There was nothing. There was Renie and nothing. Everything gone.
She sat down and clutched at her head.
I’m dead
, she thought, but outside the dream, the idea of death was not a soothing one.
And this is all there is. Everyone lied.
She laughed, but it sounded like something wasn’t working properly inside her.
Even the atheists lied.
“Oh, damn,” she said out loud.
Praise for OTHERLAND: Sea of Silver Light:
“This stunning finale to the gigantic Otherland tetralogy, a brilliant fusion of quest fantasy and technological SF, is sure to please Williams’s many fans. At nearly 700 pages this is a mighty mouthful to swallow, but a well crafted if convoluted plot sustains interest through the lengthy climax, which explains the inexplicable. The Otherland books are a major accomplishment.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
“Williams notably extrapolates the technology of virtual reality, to the point where it is indistinguishable from physical reality for the characters and sometimes the reader, and he exhibits a fine satirical touch when writing about games, folklore, and the influence on society of ultra-high-tech.”
—Booklist
 
“In reading a multi-volume series that’s still in the process of creation, not all the suspense lies in the plotline. This is especially true when the quality of the early installments is high. In Sea of Silver Light, Tad Williams accomplishes this and more, drawing his massive Otherland saga to a triumphant conclusion. Strongly written, finely characterized, masterfully plotted, and above all consistently intelligent in its examination of self and story, real and virtual, and the blurred boundaries in between, this series stands as a major achievement, and should cement Williams’ reputation as one of the most accomplished authors now working in the field.”
—SF Site (sfsite.com)
 
“The Otherland series concludes triumphantly in this fourth and final volume. The real and virtual plots all come to a spectacular climax, but Williams avoids any neat and tidy resolution—a surprisingly satisfying conclusion to such a fantastic adventure.”
—Locus
 
Praise for the previous volumes of OTHERLAND:
    “On an epic scale and most impressive of all is Otherland, a big colorful novel full of real-world conspiracy and virtual reality wonders, with characters worth caring about.”
—Locus
         
    “This is the best thing Williams has ever done, and it deserves attention, time, praise. More, it deserves to be read.”
—The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
         
    “Epic in scope and size, this near-future cyberspace adventure has likable characters, heinous villains, a plethora of classical references and a slew of powerful action sequences that propel its many-tiered plot forward. . . . Williams fills his pages with the sort of stories and characters that readers of epic fantasy are sure to love.”
—Publishers Weekly
         
    “The sheer breadth of Williams’ knowledge and the richness of his imagination make this book, like its predecessors, a complex and slow-paced feast.”
—Booklist
    
    “Once again, Williams displays remarkable talent in making the unbelievable even more than plausible. The many virtual worlds he creates in Otherland offer entertainment, insights, and commentary on a near-future Earth that is often downright scary simply because it seems so familiar—in a bad sort of way. The author manages to portray a callous, uncaring society that still has concerned and unselfish citizens. Tad Williams is a master of description. Scenes seem to leap off the page, grab you by the collar, and then pull you into the story.”
—Science Fiction Weekly
     
    “The ultimate virtual-reality saga, borrowing motifs from cyberpunk, mythology, and world history.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
    
    “Otherland has true speculative grandeur . . . sticks in your head like Zen toffee.”
—Time Out

My father still hasn't actually cracked any of the books-

so, no, he still hasn't noticed. I think I'm just going to

 have to tell him. Maybe I should break it to him gently.

"Everyone here who hasn't had a book dedicated to

 them, take three steps forward. Whoops, Dad, hang

 on a second . . ."

Acknowledgements

These people saved my life. Without their help, I would never have finished these books. You may apply the appropriate punishments.

The List So Far:

Barbara Cannon, Aaron Castro, Nick Des Barres, Debra Euler, Arthur Ross Evans, Amy Fodera, Sean Fodera, Jo-Ann Goodwind, Deborah Grabien, Nic Grabien, Jed Hartmann, Tim Holman, Nick Itsou, John Jarrold, Katharine Kerr, Ulrike Killer, M. J. Kramer, Jo and Phil Knowles, Mark Kreighbaum, LES.., Bruce Lieberman, Mark McCrum, Joshua Milligan, Hans-Ulrich Möhring, Eric Neuman, Peter Stampfel, Mitch Wagner, Michael Whelan.

To which must be added another group of the brave and the good:

Melissa Brammer, Dena Chavez, Rick Cuevas, Marcia de Lima, Jim Foster.

As always, shout-outs to all my homies on the Tad Williams List-serve and the message boards of the TW Fan Page and Guthwuff.com's MS&T Interactive Thesis.

And of course, no acknowledgments would be truly acknowledgmentacious without mentioning my wonderful wife Deborah Beale, my lovely and talented agent Matt Bialer, and my brilliant and patient editors Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert. My kids Connor and Devon didn't really help much, but they sure make life more interesting (and the need to finish and sell books more acute), and Connor did type a bunch of consonants into my manuscript at random for me to use later, so I guess they belong in here as well.

OTHERLAND: City of Golden Shadow
Synopsis

Wet, terrified, with only the companionship of trench-mates
Finch and Mullet
to keep him sane,
Paul Jonas
seems no different than any of thousands of other foot soldiers in World War I. But when he abruptly finds himself alone on an empty battlefield except for a tree that grows up into the clouds, he begins to doubt that sanity. When he climbs the tree and discovers a castle in the clouds, a woman with wings like a bird, and her terrifying giant guardian, his insanity seems confirmed. But when he awakens back in the trenches, he finds he is clutching one of the bird-woman's feathers.

In South Africa, in the middle of the twenty-first century,
Irene "Renie" Sulaweyo
has problems of her own. Renie is an instructor of virtual engineering whose newest student,
!Xabbu
, is one of the desert Bushmen, a people to whom modern technology is very alien. At home, she is a surrogate mother to her young brother, Stephen, who is obsessed with exploring the virtual parts of the world communication network-the "net"-and Renie spends what little spare time she has holding her family together. Her widowed father
Long Joseph
only seems interested in finding his next drink.

Like most children, Stephen is entranced by the forbidden, and although Renie has already saved him once from a disturbing virtual nightclub named Mister J's, Stephen sneaks back in. By the time Renie discovers what he has done, Stephen has fallen into a coma. The doctors cannot explain it, but Renie is certain something has happened to him online.

American
Orlando Gardiner
is only a little older than Renie's brother, but he is a master of several online domains, and because of a serious medical condition, spends most of his time in the online identity of Thargor, a barbarian warrior. But when in the midst of one of his adventures Orlando is given a glimpse of a golden city unlike anything else he has ever seen on the net, he is so distracted that his Thargor character is killed. Despite this terrible loss, Orlando cannot shake his fascination with the golden city, and with the support of his software agent
Beezle Bug
and the reluctant help of his online friend
Fredericks
, he is determined to locate the golden city.

Meanwhile, on a military base in the United States, a little girl named
Christabel Sorensen
pays secret visits to her friend,
Mr. Sellars
, a strange, scarred old man. Her parents have forbidden her to see him, but she likes the old man and the stories he tells, and he seems much more pathetic than frightening. She does not know that he has very unusual plans for her.

As Renie gets to know !Xabbu the Bushman better, and to appreciate his calm good nature and his outsider's viewpoint on modern life, she comes to rely on him more and more in her quest to discover what has happened to her brother. She and !Xabbu sneak into the online nightclub, Mr. J's. The place is as bad as she feared, with guests indulging themselves in all manner of virtual unpleasantness, but nothing seems like it could have actually physically harmed her brother until they are drawn into a terrifying encounter with a virtual version of the Hindu death-goddess Kali. !Xabbu is overcome, and Renie, too, is almost overwhelmed by Kali's subliminal hypnotics, but with the help of a mysterious figure whose simulated body (his "sim") is a blank, with no features at all, she manages to get herself and !Xabbu out of Mister J's. Before she goes offline, the figure gives her some data in the form of a golden gem.

BOOK: Sea of Silver Light
5.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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