Books by Walter Jon Williams

THE FOURTH WALL by Walter Jon Williams
Released: Feb. 13, 2012

"Williams and Dagmar fans will rejoice, and it should attract the near-futurists and techno-thriller crowd as well."
Another tale about AR (augmented reality) games designer Dagmar Shaw (Deep State, 2011, etc). Read full book review >
IMPLIED SPACES by Walter Jon Williams
Released: July 1, 2008

"An intelligent, delicate and precise novel of real depth: a pleasure to read, an undertaking to savor."
From Williams (Conventions of War, 2005, etc.), a far-future science-fiction yarn that employs sword-and-sorcery trappings to investigate philosophical questions. Read full book review >
CITY ON FIRE by Walter Jon Williams
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

Direct, independently intelligible sequel to the intriguing Metropolitan (1995), set in a world encaged by an impregnable Shield raised by the mysterious Ascended Ones, where ancient buildings and structures generate a marvelous energy called ``plasm'' (which does, though, bear a curious resemblance to John Shirley's IAMton particles). Constantine, the powerful Metropolitan, has completed his conquest of the wicked city Caraqui and now is desperately short of plasm. He calls in his former collaborator and lover, Aiah, to help defeat the ubiquitous plasm thieves of the Silver Hand mafia. During her experiments with plasm, Aiah finds a way to penetrate the Shield (a likely stage- setter for a third volume). A counterrevolution is brewing, however, and Constantine's secret weapon—an irresistible plasm- demon assassin called Taikoen that consumes its victims from within—is corrupting his judgment. Through the resulting civil war, Aiah grows into a mover and shaker in her own right; still, her greatest challenge will be to destroy Taikoen and so save Constantine from himself. Broadly similar to its predecessor, with the same faults and virtues: fascinating scenario, solid storytelling, mediocre characters, and a disconnected, deeply unsatisfying present-tense narrative. Read full book review >
ROCK OF AGES by Walter Jon Williams
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

First hardcover appearance for an established paperback series (House of Shards, 1988, etc.) about Drake Maijstral, the top-rated Allowed Burglar in the Human Constellation that shares the galaxy, now amicably, with the alien Khosali Empire. This time, Maijstral is visiting Earthnot in his professional capacityand while staying with several high-born hosts, finds himself, variously, accused of theft, assaulted, challenged to duel to the death, and proposed marriage to. Worse, his Khosali servant, Roman, is molting and therefore exceedingly irritable. When his father's coffin shows upGustav is still talkative, though dead, but has trouble remembering thingsonly to be abducted, Maijstral begins to suspect a plot. Eventually his suspicions focus on Elvis impersonator Major Ruth Song, who's in town for the upcoming Memphis Olympiad. It seems that Song bears Maijstral a grudge on behalf of her ancestors: During the human-Khosali war, Maijstral's grandfather, who supported the Khosali side, earned the sobriquet of Robert the Butcher. Adroitly handled but flatly unamusing: not one of Williams's (Metropolitan, etc.) better prospects. Read full book review >
METROPOLITAN by Walter Jon Williams
Released: April 1, 1995

For thousands of years, the Earth has been enclosed by an impervious Shield raised by the long-vanished Ascended Ones. The world beneath consists of city built next to city, rising layer upon ancient layer. The planet itself, the configuration of the buildings, and the materials used in their construction generate ``plasm'' energy, which accumulates over time in odd nodes and nooks; the sole monetary standard, plasm may be stored or broadcast, and, tapped by a skilled human mind, can heal bodily injuries, enhance mental capacity, project astral bodies—can, indeed, accomplish true miracles—but a clumsy or overambitious operator risks immolation inside a gigantic fireball. Aiah, a lowly employee of the ubiquitous Plasm Authority, observes one such fireball, and infers the existence of a concentrated and hitherto unexploited plasm source completely outside Plasm Authority control. She decides to sell her source to the powerful Metropolitan, Constantine, and his gifted, ruthless assistant, Sonya, who trains Aiah in the ways of plasm use. Soon Aiah, rapidly becoming accustomed to the benefits of wealth and power, becomes Constantine's lover and, despite an initial reluctance, commits herself to helping him with his plans to attack and conquer a repressive rival city, thereby restoring the prestige forfeited by his family and people after their defeat in a previous power struggle. Williams (Aristoi, 1992, etc.) creates a curious, fascinating yet disconnected scenario—an effect heightened by a dearth of main characters (three, all above) and the present-tense narrative. The upshot is, by Williams's own high standards, unsatisfying. Read full book review >
ARISTOI by Walter Jon Williams
Released: Sept. 25, 1992

Often pigeonholed with the cyberpunks for such novels as Angel Station (1989), Williams showed his versatility in Facets (1990). Here, he combines such hot topics as virtual reality, nanotechnology, and multiple personality in a utopian novel that owes as much to Arthur C. Clarke as to the more familiar punk icons. Gabriel is one of the Aristoi, near-immortals with godlike powers in an expansive far-future meritocracy. Advanced virtual reality technology allows the Aristoi to visit distant places (several at once, if they wish) in projected bodies tailored to the owner's whim. In addition, they have access to a team of ``daimons,'' deliberately created multiple personalities who advise them or steer the body (normal or projected) through tasks that require special abilities. The plot is more or less familiar, turning on the discovery of a rebel Aristoi who has set up an appallingly primitive society to foster a stronger breed of humanity. But Williams keeps it interesting, inventing comic details of everyday life among the Aristoi, or using double columns to follow scenes in which Gabriel calls on his daimons for help in everything from surgery and lovemaking to combat. Williams's high-tech utopia effectively draws on the hot ideas in current science and technology to ask provocative questions about the goals of human society. Space opera with brains and panache—tough, fast-moving, and very well written. Read full book review >
DAYS OF ATONEMENT by Walter Jon Williams
Released: March 18, 1991

From the author of the splendid Voice of the Whirlwind (1987) and the less pleasing Angel Station (1989), a mainstream- ish tale of a traditional New Mexico police chief propelled headlong into a future he can barely understand. Loren Hawn, police chief of the art-deco town of Atocha- dedicated, religious, often brutal toward criminals-faces trouble as the town's major employer, the copper mine, abruptly closes; the out-of-town workers at ATL, a secretive physics research establishment, don't mingle with the locals. Then a bullet- riddled car crashes on the steps of police HQ; out staggers a local rancher only to expire bloodily in Loren's arms. Problem: the same rancher died in Loren's arms 20 years ago after a car crash. Circumstantial evidence links the dead man to ATL, but Loren's inquiries are sabotaged by ATL's security chief, William Patience and his henchmen, and the explanation behind the appearance of the twice-dead man, Loren's faith in his church, in the patronage/payoff system that sustains the town, and in his own colleagues and allies crumbles. Much of this-the complex yet logical puzzles, the small-town New Mexico ambience, the gritty realism-is rousing, vintage Williams. What won't appeal to the kinder, gentler sections of the audience are the local of feminine interest, the callous monomania displayed by most of the cast, and the gratuitously overblown violence of the windup. Read full book review >