Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Fourth Wall The Fourth Wall
by Walter Jon Williams

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

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 Shaw’s 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 Sean’s life too. Sean’s 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.

SFFANZ is a non-profit organisation and registered charity
designed to bring together fans of the fantastic in New Zealand

Contact us by email at: