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'Otherland' by Tad Williams


I just love gigantic multivolume stories and Tad Williams' first volume, Otherland, is a promising one. The plot is fairly basic: a sinister elite on a near-future Earth is bleeding the world of its children to populate a alternate reality called Otherland, after which Earth will presumably be allowed to go down the tubes. The band questing for the secret that will foil this scheme consists of an African teacher, a Bushman tribesman, a World War I soldier lost in time, a physically and mentally lacking role-playing gamer, and an eccentric Englishman who may be engaged in duplicity. Williams brings the virtues of historical literacy and more than competent prose to his massive undertaking, but he also brings the vices of discursiveness and angst-ridden characters. Although obviously the trilogy is not yet ready to be acclaimed as anything approaching a well-wrought whole, at least with this book as a basis, it is well launched. Wherever there is an audience for the best-selling Williams, there will be readers for Otherland, too. Settle in for a long, enjoyable ride, because this is a 770-page monster.