THE FOURTH WALL by Walter Jon Williams


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Another tale about AR (augmented reality) games designer Dagmar Shaw (Deep State, 2011, etc).

Present-tense narrator Sean Makin, a highly successful child actor whose parents stole all his money, is now reduced to near-penury, alcoholism and appearances on Celebrity Pitfighter, a reality-TV show wherein washed-up actors like Sean duke it out. Until he meets Dagmar Shaw. Dagmar, six months pregnant, has a project in the works, Escape to Earth, part movie, part serial, part game, in which Roheen, an anthropologist from another dimension, is stranded on Earth by evil beings and, in a globe-spanning series of adventures, enlists smart, youthful allies to help him try and get home. Sean is perfect for the part because his condition, pedomorphosis, has given him a huge baby-like head and freakishly long arms and legs. Sean grabs the opportunity, promises not to drink and even welcomes Joey da Nova, Dagmar's has-been director, with whom Sean once worked well (and about whom he holds a guilty secret). Everything's perfect for Sean—until somebody tries to kill him. Worse, members of the production team are being murdered. Sean begins to wonder about Dagmar, whose secretiveness seems extreme even for Hollywood, and her backer, a shadowy Indian businessman who made billions from information technology, and if he can stay alive long enough to figure out what else is going on. Despite his guilty secrets, Sean's an enormously appealing protagonist, while the tightly woven, expertly pitched narrative brims with Southern California ambience and in-depth knowledge of movies, games, surveillance and information. So it comes as only a small disappointment that the resolution of the murder mystery is a bust.

Williams and Dagmar fans will rejoice, and it should attract the near-futurists and techno-thriller crowd as well.


Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-13339-5
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2012


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