Colin Laney, sensitive to patterns of information like no one else on earth, currently resides in a cardboard box in Tokyo. His body shakes with fever dreams, but his mind roams free as always, and he knows something is about to happen. Not in Tokyo; he will not see this thing himself. Something is about to happen in San Francisco.
The mists make it easy to hide, if hiding is what you want, and even at the best of times reality there seems to shift. A gray man moves elegantly through the mists, leaving bodies in his wake, so that a tide of absences alerts Laney to his presence. A boy named Silencio does not speak, but flies through webs of cyber-information in search of the one object that has seized his imagination. And Rei Toi, the Japanese Idoru, continues her study of all things human. She herself is not human, not quite, but she’s working on it. And in the mists of San Francisco, at this rare moment in history, who is to say what is or is not impossible...
21st century Tokyo, after the millennial quake. Neon rain. Light everywhere blowing under any door you might try to close. Where the New Buildings, the largest in the world, erect themselves unaided, their slow rippling movements like the contractions of a sea-creature...
Colin Laney is here looking for work. He is an intuitive fisher for patterns of information, the “signature” an individual creates simply by going about the business of living. But Laney knows how to sift for the dangerous bits. Which makes him useful—to certain people.
Chia McKenzie is here on a rescue mission. She’s fourteen. Her idol is the singer Rez, of the band Lo/Rez. When the Seattle chapter of the Lo/Rez fan club decided that he might be in trouble in Tokyo, they sent Chia to check it out.
Rei Toei is the idoru—the beautiful, entirely virtual media star adored by all Japan. Rez has declared that he will marry her. This is the rumor that has brought Chia to Tokyo. True or not, the idoru and the powerful interests surrounding her are enough to put all their lives in danger...
"The Grail Brotherhood has built the most powerful, sophisticated simulation network imaginable. At the same time, they have manipulated ad injured the minds of thousands of children."
This proclamation from the mysterious Mr. Sellars confirmed what Renie Sulaweyo had feared to be true when she first broke into the Otherland network in a desperate search for the cause of her brother Stephen's deathlike coma.
Now Renie, the Bushman !Xabbu, and their companions find themselves navigating a treacherous and ever-changing course―from a strangely unfinished land, ro a seemingly endless labyrinthine House―pursuing a sociopathic killer who has stolen one of their group.
To Renie's despair she is no closer to uncovering the secrets which could help save Stephen's life, and now it appears that something may be very wrong with the Otherland network itself.
As Paul Jonas, Orlando, Renie and the rest strive to reach Priam's Walls, in the heart of Troy, they know that their quest is running perilously short of time. For the Grail Brotherhood has finally set the date for the Ceremony when they will make their bid for the immortality, and thereby seal the fate of Earth's children forever.
But before Renie and her allies can hope to stop the Brotherhood, they must first solve the mysteries of Otherland itself, and confront its darkest secret―an enitity known only at the Other.
Surrounded by secrecy, it is home to the wildest dreams and darkest nightmares. Incredible amounts of money have been lavished on it. The best minds of two generations have labored to build it. And somehow, bit by bit, it is claiming the Earth's most valuable resource--its children.
Otherland. In many ways it is humankind's most stunning achievement: a private, multidimensional universe built over two generations by the greatest minds of the twenty-first century. But this most exclusive of places is also one of the world's best kept secrets, created and controlled by an organization made up of the world's most powerful and ruthless individuals, a private cartel known—to those who know of their existence at all—as The Grail Brotherhood.
Though their purpose in creating Otherland is still a mystery, it may not remain so for long. For they have exacted a terrible price from humanity in the process, and even their highly organized global conspiracy cannot hide the nature of their crimes forever.
And now a small band of adventurers has penetrated the veil of secrecy that prevents the uninitiated from entering Otherland. But having broken into the amazing worlds within worlds that make up this universe, they are trapped, unable to escape back to their own flesh-and-blood bodies in the real world.
And as dangers and circumstances split their party into small, widely scattered groups, their only hope of reuniting lies in returning again and again to the River that flows—in one form or another—through all the worlds.
But the odds seem to be completely against them as they—and the one outsider with whom they might join forces—become hopelessly lost in realms where an Ice Age tribe's fears can only be quenched in blood...where insects are as large and deadly as dinosaurs...where they are caught in the war between a man made of straw and one made of tin...where cartoon ads take on a life of their own...where humans strive to survive in the aftermath of an alien invasion...and where one among their party is actually The Grail Brotherhood's most terrifying weapon—a sociopathic killer who has never failed and whose current mission is to make certain that not even one member of this little invasion force lives long enough to reveal the truth about Otherland to the people of Earth...
2035: Susan Calvin is beginning her residency at a Manhattan teaching hospital, where a select group of patients is receiving the latest in diagnostic advancements: tiny nanobots, injected into the spinal fluid, that can unlock and map the human mind.
Soon, Susan begins to notice an ominous chain of events surrounding the patients. When she tries to alert her superiors, she is ignored by those who want to keep the project far from any scrutiny for the sake of their own agenda. But what no one knows is that the very technology to which they have given life is now under the control of those who seek to spread only death...
When she was young, Susan lost her mother in a terrible car wreck that also badly injured her father. She now believes the accident was orchestrated by government officials who wanted her parents dead. Susan has always known there was a faction of the U.S. government that wanted to hijack her father’s work for military use. Now it seems that faction is back.
As she struggles to overcome her pain and confusion, as well as deal with her studies, Susan finds herself hunted by violent antitech vigilantes who would revert mankind to the Dark Ages—and at the same time she’s being watched very closely by extremists who want high-tech genocide. Somehow she must find a way to stop them both.
Now, he's on the run with his two best friends, and a group of rebels. The mega-corp will spare no expense to silence him. With what he knows, he could set off a chain of events that will have dramatic repercussions for the entire world.
But somehow, in this chaotic mess, nascent romance struggles to grow and survive.
Will he run and hide behind the pomp and wealth of his former life, or will he boldly go forward and forge his own destiny? Will he survive? Will his friends?