City of Golden Shadow: Otherland Book 1
Written by Tad Williams.
Narrated by George Newbern.
Stephen is a South African kid of doing what twelve year olds through thirty year olds do now in their recreational time. He plays MMO games only the rigs are more VR and neural connecting than anything common right now. His sister Irene or Reny tries to get him to cut back on his usage even though she makes her living teach Virtual programming at the Durbin Polytechnic.
On the other side of the planet in an enclave in California, a fourteen year old is trapped in a body that is aging at an accelerated rate. His only road of escape is to live in a virtual world only now he and his friend are trapped in that virtual world.
Beings envisioning themselves as reincarnations of the gods of old are crossing from the Virtual World into the Real World. They’re doing real damage. A handicapped old Air Force guy is waging a war to try and free up the net; and stave off the mental damage a group called the Grail Brotherhood seems to be doing to ten thousand or more teenagers in vegetative state.
Maybe the more gripping thread in this is the story of Paul Jonahs, seemingly killed in the trenches of WW I then swallowed by a steam-punk Giant. Paul is enchanted by a woman who is in a gilded cage with wings, then he meets her again in what appears to be an Edgar Rice Burroughs vision of Mars. All the time he finds himself pursued by nasties including apes with snake heads…yuck.
If I’ve spoiled this for you then you would not have had the patience to enjoy this work of art. This is cyberpunk and it even has its own jargon like the works of William Gibson. The insight into a possible future where our actions and fortunes are controlled because some powerful group of beings can trap our minds on the net is frightening yet well told. World picture here is bleak but there are heroes and the struggle comes across as real. Four out of five Entertainment Units are thus awarded.