Walter Jon Williams (born 1953) is an American Science Fiction writer, generally known for not having a signature style. He has written everything from Cyberpunk (and Post-Cyberpunk) to Comedy of Manners; from Space Opera to Police Procedural. All available evidence suggests that Williams does not like being pigeonholed. (His fondness for games has caused some to try to pigeonhole him as a gamer, but a survey of his work will reveal that this is an incomplete description at best.)
Among his better known works are the early Cyberpunk novel, Hardwired, the Post-Cyberpunk novel Aristoi, the humorous Drake Maijstral series (The Crown Jewels, House of Shards and Rock of Ages), the epic Dread Empire's Fall series (The Praxis, The Sundering, and The Conventions of War), and the Dagmar Shaw thrillers (This is Not a Game, Deep State, and The Fourth Wall). He has also written a novel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, The New Jedi Order: Destiny's Way, and the straight-up historical Privateers and Gentlemen series. He was also a frequent contributor to George R. R. Martin's Wild Cards series.
Not to be confused with the other Walter Williams.
Works with a page on this wiki:
Selected other works:
- Knight Moves (1984)
- The Hardwired series
- Hardwired (1986)
- Solip:System (1989)
- Voice of the Whirlwind (1987)
- Facets (collection, 1990)
- Days of Atonement (1991)
- Metropolitan series
- Metropolitan (1995)
- City on Fire (1997)
- The Rift (1999)
- The New Jedi Order: Destiny's Way (Star Wars novel, 2002)
- The Dagmar Shaw series
- This Is Not a Game (2009)
- Deep State (2011)
- The Fourth Wall (2012)
- The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories (collection, 2010)
Tropes in his other works:
- Alternate Reality Game: The protagonist of This Is Not a Game is a professional ARG writer; the book begins with her being trapped in Indonesia during rioting and enlisting the help of the people who play her ARGs to get her out.
- Arc Words: In This Is Not a Game, the frequent Title Drops are this.
- Brain Uploading: Played for extreme horror in the short story "Daddy's World".
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Hardwired plays a variation of this trope; a person who replaces too much of their brain-matter with implants becomes "white-brained", detached from the world and other people, obsessed with mathematical abstractions, and losing much of their emotions in the process. However, it only happens to those who are inclined towards abstract thinking to begin with - those who use their cybernetic implants to interact with physical objects like vehicles, and expand their abilities in the realms of physical talent like martial arts rarely suffer from these effects.
- Divided States of America: Hardwired has a heavily balkanized territory formerly known as the USA, in which Hovertank jockeys make a fortune flying contraband across fortified state borders.
- Cool Sword: In Implied Spaces, the protagonist's sword, Tecmessa, has the ability to send his enemies to a sealed pocket universe.
- Gender Bender: In Hardwired, the rich elite often transfer their consciousness to a younger body to extend their lives. The book introduces one who used to be an elderly man but got himself transferred to a young, female body to live his sexual fantasies of submission and vulnerability. S/He gets what s/he asked for and more when Sarah, one of the protagonists, seduces and then murders him/her.
- Healing Spring: Implied Spaces features pools that can both heal and resurrect people. The "water" is actually a silvery, computer-linked nanotech soup.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each chapter of This Is Not a Game is titled "This Is Not a(n) _____" or "This is not the ______".
- Information Wants to Be Free: The short story, "The Green Leopard Plague" (available here), features this regarding hunger; the main character uncovers the history of how the invention of photosynthesis in humans to combat hunger was suppressed by regimes who used it as a weapon.
- Killer Game Master: This Is Not a Game characterizes each of four friends by their habits when acting as DMs. The most antisocial one has every NPC betray the players, and often sets them up to betray each other. The main character eventually realizes that he expects everyone to betray everyone else in real life as well, and hence betrays them first.
- Kiss of Death: Hardwired features "The Weasel", a mechanical weapon that shoots out of your mouth.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Namechecked in Implied Spaces: when Grax the Troll's battle cry turns out to be "Grax the Troll!!!!", the protagonist's cat remarks, "Not exactly 'Leeroy Jenkins', but I suppose it will do.".
- Not a Game: The appropriately titled This Is Not a Game, about an Alternate Reality Game producer using her forums and players to get her out of a burning Jakarta, has the forum admins constantly reminding the players that this one is Not a Game.
- Not Quite Dead: In Hardwired, one character, Reno, is killed when his home is the target of a missile attack. He later makes a series of telephone calls to the hero. Turns out that he was a wirehead and was "jacked into the net" when the missiles struck. He spends pretty much the rest of the book as a disembodied mind, wandering around the equivalent of the Internet, looking at everyone's most secret files.
- Oh Crap, There Are Fanfics of Us!: This Is Not A Game (part of the Dagmar Shaw series) is an original-fiction example. The protagonist is stranded in Indonesia when its currency collapses, causing rioting. She enlists the help of a bunch of alternate reality gamers to get her out, not all of whom believe it's really happening. As a gag gift, one of her friends later presents her with a bound copy of the Fan Fiction some of these gamers wrote about her.
- Patch Work Map: Implied Spaces takes place in a world where technology is advanced enough that every rich kid can design his own little world. Most of them try for patchwork maps. The main character is a scholar studying what happens on the borders between the patches when the physical realities of these constructed worlds start to act. These borders are the "implied spaces".
- Pocket Dimension: The future human civilization of Implied Spaces uses pocket dimensions maintained by vast post-human artificial intelligences as living space.
- Portal Pool: In Implied Spaces, Pools of Life are pretty much equivalent to 'save points' in games - you can enter a pool to have a snapshot of your memories stored and/or your body plan altered and/or have yourself deconstructed then reassembled at another location with or without your consent.
- Possession Burnout: In Metropolitan, the Iceman causes this to his hosts.
- Real Money Trade: One character of This Is Not a Game makes most of his income by gold farming and ganking — while at his official phone support job.
- White Collar Crime: Hardwired is rife with this. It's pretty violent, though; one episode of corporate sabotage involves murdering an executive to get access to the company's intranet.