|The Fourth Wall is the third
instalment in Walter Jon Williams series about artificial-reality-game designer
Dagmar Shaw. Except this time the novel is told from the point of view of Sean Makin, a
nearly washed up former child actor who has been reduced to appearing on such televisual
highlights as Celebrity Pitfighter and whose last film has been stuck in litigation
for three years.
The front cover of the book sports a quote asserting that the book is
"darkly funny and brilliantly cynical" and I must agree. The Fourth
Wall tells the story of a down on his luck actor and comes across note
perfect in the level of desperation that infuses such a person and the self-awareness of
the amount of self-degradation and moral compromise that is involved in getting acting
work followed by the euphoric high that comes with landing a starring role in a big
budget production number: a number that is Dagmar Shaws latest artificial reality
game spin off.
The Fourth Wall is also a murder mystery as several key people
die during the filming and there are multiple attempts on Seans life too.
Seans world view develops a paranoiac edge that adds to the black humour of the
book; after all he was indirectly responsible for the first death in a sequence that now
points to him as the next victim.
I found The Fourth Wall to be fast and amusing read that held
my attention from start to finish. The science fictional aspects of the story are hidden
in the detail, this novel could easily be set in the here and now.