Otherland, the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game from Drago Entertainment, loosely based on Tad Williams‘ critically-acclaimed four-volume cyber series Otherland, is scheduled for early release on Steam on September 10th.
The highly-anticipated multi-player game, set in a virtual reality world where anything is possible, was originally announced in October 2008, then went through seven years of development hell. Drago promises gamers will be able to “embark on exciting adventures in a virtual multiverse of worlds ranging from fantasy to sci-fi and beyond.”
Below is Part Three of OstenArd.com’s interview with speculative fiction writer Tad Williams, author of the “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, “Otherland”, “Shadowmarch” and “Bobby Dollar” books, and who recently announced the completion of the first draft of The Witchwood Crown, the first volume of a series of sequel novels to his classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” trilogy, called “The Last King of Osten Ard“. The Witchwood Crown is tentatively slated for a Spring 2016 release. Part One of the interview is here. Part Two is here.
The below questions were asked by readers on the Tad Williams Message Board and OstenArd.com contributors. In this part of the interview, we asked Williams how his main characters from Osten Ard compare to Bobby Dollar, if he has any plans to ever return to other worlds he built, and if he ever regrets his decision to wander back into the thick of things in Osten Ard.
Cover of the Russian edition of The Dirty Streets of Heaven, the first “Bobby Dollar” book.
OstenArd.com: Tad, your most recent main character, Bobby Dollar, seems pretty cynical sometimes, but his actions are unfailingly that of an optimist. “Of course I’m going to go to Hell to save my new girlfriend (who’s not really my girlfriend)!” Simon’s journey was from a youthful idealism (or even, some might say, cluelessness) to adulthood with a good measure of earned wisdom. How has Simon’s worldview changed with the passage of time? Would you describe him as an idealist or optimist? Does he have anything in common with Bobby Dollar’s cynicism, now that he’s been around the block a few times?
Tad Williams: Simon is still much more of an optimist than Bobby, but part of that comes from him resolutely refusing to dwell on the worst things in life. That doesn’t mean he ignores them, but he is more determined not to let them dictate his everyday life than, say, Miriamele is. I think I myself am a wounded romantic by nature, an optimist with a cynical sense of humor, rather than a cynic per se. Simon is, I hope, an older version of his younger self, thus more pragmatic, less surprised when things don’t go well, and more aware of how hard it is to change the world. In some ways, he’s probably less of a romantic than Bobby.
Tad Williams states that Simon Snowlock is less of a cynic than his wife, Miriamele. Possible plot point?
OA.com: When you reread “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” in preparation, was there anything, about the plot or the worldbuilding or the characters, that made you think, “I wish I could rewrite this”? Or on the other hand, something that you’d maybe forgotten about and that surprised you in a positive way?
Tad: I thought, “I wish I hadn’t made this so damn long.”
No, I always have ambivalent responses when look at my own work. Most of my flinch moments come from what I see as prose issues — too many commas, too flowery when not necessary, etc. — rather than story choices. I think I’ve always had a pretty good grasp of story and character, so the main things I see that I wish I could change are almost always technical things about the writing itself.
On the other hand, I’m always pleasantly surprised when my older work isn’t as lame as I sometimes fear it might be.
Cover of River of Blue Fire, second volume of “Otherland”.
OA.com: You’ve said that you are interested in writing some more Orlando (from “Otherland”) stories. Do you think this desire might turn into a book or even a new series? Is there any particular Otherland sim you would like to revisit and flesh out more?
Tad: It’s not so much any one simulation as that I’d like to 1) make more simulations, 2) explore how the Otherland network is changing as it becomes more “alive” and self-aware, or at least self-regulating, and 3) I think Orlando’s situation is interesting in and of itself, as detailed in “Happiest Dead Boy”. Plus, I’m interested in the idea that some of the artificial life-forms (or semi-life-forms) in the network might want to bring Dread back, for weird pseudo-religious ideas of their own.
OA.com: You resisted returning to Osten Ard for a long time; now that you’re back, do you ever find yourself thinking, “What the heck am I doing here?”
Tad: Every goddamn day. Especially when I’m trying to remember history and stuff from the first volumes, which is all the time, instead of just being able to make things up from scratch. But as mentioned, it’s also a really fun challenge. Not to sound like a complete sap, but that’s a big part of what I love about writing, too. I know I won’t please everyone, but it will be fun to see if I can at least please a few people.
OA.com: Readers are re-reading “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” far and wide in anticipation of the new books. And their responses seem uniformly positive. Do you think “veteran” readers of MS&T will enjoy the new books just as much? Why or why not?
Tad: If anything, I have to work hard to make sure these books are as much fun for new readers as for the old readers, because there is so much old history, and so many old characters and plotlines to plug into. I think the veteran readers will have no problem with these because there is a LOT of continuity despite the decades passed.
Editor’s note: the interview with Tad Williams will conclude with Part Four.
This is the story of my love for Tad Williams. And of why I will buy every book he releases, forever, and tell people why they should read his books, and generally act like a Tad Williams televangelist. And of why being human is the best possible thing you can be as an author.
Waaay, way back, in the 90s, I worked in bookstore. (Shocker, I know.) It was an odd sort of place, an Italian-owned chain called Rizzoli’s. We mostly sold expensive coffee table books of art and architecture, and did a surprisingly brisk trade in the Italian newspapers Corriera della Sera and La Repubblica too. Fiction was relegated to a back corner of the store. Genre fiction? Forget about it. I was an assistant manager for a while, running the Music Department, huddled in a small balcony area in the back of the store. I sold a lot of classical and jazz and European pop music. There was no American rock or pop in stock. We weren’t that kind of place. The store was located on the fourth floor of the Water Tower Place, a high end shopping mall on Michigan Avenue [more…]
Amazon.com is well known for stocking hard-to-find items from around the world. Their listing for one of Sci Fi/Fantasy author Tad Williams’ books, however, brings new meaning to the word ‘unique’. Check out Amazon’s sales page for Bin Otherland Empty, a book the retail giant says was released on February 7, 2005. The book languished in obscurity until recently, and even many die-hard fans of the genre say they were unaware of the book’s existence. Classified as a hardcover, Bin Otherland Empty sports a unique front cover:
What to some people may look like a vacuum cleaner hose attachment is the cover of what will certainly be Williams’ next best-selling novel. In fact, demand for copies of Bin Otherland Empty has already exceeded the publisher’s expectations, and copies of the book are now selling for over $350.00 each on Amazon:
Reviews for Bin Otherland Empty on Amazon.com unanimously declare the book one of Williams’ best, and the volume has received five-star ratings from readers. One reviewer writes: “I’m giving the book five stars […] because I like the fact that the author is willing to try new things. I really respect an author who’s willing to stretch his limits, exploring hard-to-reach areas, and start with a clean slate.” Another calls the book, “The ESSENTIAL companion to the Otherland quartet”.
Tragically, the book went unnoticed for many years, neglected by fans and critics alike. Tad Williams himself recently stated on his Facebook page, “Nobody understood what I was trying to do with this one and I never got much feedback. I might as well have been writing in a vacuum.” Now, however, there are fresh eyes and new readers enjoying Bin Otherland Empty, and Amazon has already sold out on the copies they’d had in stock.