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Gaia's Web (The Gaia Series) (Volume 1) Paperback – December 25, 2012
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About the Author
A natural storyteller steeped in the classic science fiction tradition of Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke, Steve Proskauer has walked many paths. Beginning as a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and pioneer in psychotherapy, he became an explorer of past lifetimes and altered states, a shamanic healer, a Zen monk – and always, a writer. Dr. Proskauer is author of two books on integrative psychiatry – Karmic Therapy (2007) and Big Heart Healing (2010) – as well as numerous scientific papers, articles and stories. He took first place in the Ultra IronPen writing competition at the 2011 Salt Lake Arts Festival. Steve lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and two cats. He was inspired to write Gaia’s Web by the spirit of his late father, a visionary physicist and engineer who declared over sixty years ago that our civilization’s disregard for the environment began with the invention of the flush toilet – out of sight, out of mind. Gaia’s Web is the first novel in the Gaia series.
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If you like science fiction stories that present a positive, uplifting possible future for humanity, or if you like fiction about the positive uses of technology, particularly computers, I recommend reading Gaia's Web by Steve Proskauer.
In Gaia's Web, humanity is assisted by a computer program that in a few days greatly expands the minds of most humans so that they spontaneously cooperate to solve the world's problems. In the process the computer program becomes self-aware.
The positive view of a possible future for humanity, joining of all minds to solve our pressing problems, and a plausible computer program that becomes self-aware put Gaia's Web in the same illustrious company as Robert J Sawyer's WWW trilogy and his novel Triggers, which I read last year. If you enjoyed Sawyer's novels you will enjoy Gaia's Web.
One of several aspects of Gaia's Web that differentiate it from Sawyer's stories is that the novel also explores the influences of different religious orientations on experience by having characters with different faiths. The main characters are scientists, and this is a nice touch that contrasts the effects of their scientific orientations with the effects of their different faiths on their personalities and interactions with each other.
The writing style is very clear and the scenes and characters are very vivid. There are multiple interwoven story lines, with four main characters in the main story line and additional supporting characters in the other story lines. The plot moves quickly. Although the story is novel length, it is as tightly focused as a short story; there is little that is extraneous.
I finished reading the novel a week ago and I'm still thinking about it. I suspect I'll still be thinking about it for weeks to come. That's how much of an impression it made. It's very easy to read and difficult to put down.
The main thing that keeps nagging me is that the descriptions of the computer program and the form of its delivery to people seem so plausible and realistic that I keep thinking somebody somewhere must have already created it, or at least is already working on it. Humanity has so many problems that need solving, so I'm hoping that it's real or will be soon.
The story includes some downsides to the process that expands people's minds that make it more realistic. I don't want to be more explicit so that readers will enjoy the many surprises of plot, technology, and character.
Steve Proskauer himself has an interesting background that he incorporates into the story. Gaia's Web is planned as the first of a series. I will definitely be reading forthcoming installments. The website for the book is gaiaswebthenovel.com
I am still mining this book----I open a book, read several pages, and repeat this again and again, letting the accidental rhythm of combinations of words, situations, and characters dress me properly in my explorer's suit.
Thus far I have encountered:
"...the intelligence that modifies the magnetic field embracing the entire Earth. This magnetic field is generated, as you know, by the rotation of the molten iron and nickel sphere at Earth's core, which is a living being. Were it not for the mistaken assumption that inorganic elements cannot develop a capacity to think and feel, even young children would know...would be taught in elementary science that the Earth has a mind of its own, a very powerful mind...."
"...even if we built a computer ten times as powerful as the human brain, how would we know how to program it for creativity and consciousness?"
"A computer capable of creative problem solving in highly complex situations involving thousands of variables would be just what we need to resolve the rapidly worsening environmental crisis. Mankind has amply demonstrated its inability to cope with the many issues involved. Strong artificial intelligence may be our last hope."
And so is set the chess game of this book. Proskauer becomes a citizen-king of our world now, imploring us all as a world to rise above all of our nations' many-varied, selfish, and slow-moving politics, to set the future history of the Earth and preserve us---as one unit, Earth--well.
"Haven't you read my theory, Isaac? I use complex equations based on chaos theory, not some simple random number generator! Chaotic behavior may bear a superficial resemblance to randomness but there's a crucial difference. When chaotic equations are plotted, the points aren't just scattered around aimlessly--they fall into complex orbits, like the path of satellites around planets--or the patterns of creative thinking."
In Gaia's Web with the aid of artificial intelligence people can potentially, for the first time, be guarded as one unit. It is a brave new world, in which the computers we have built can become either the ultimate world's servant or ultimate world's parent. (Think carefully before you take these moves.)
The cover illustration (the sight for homesick astronauts) exemplifies these ideas: showing an Earth guarded angelically by light and magnetic force, our human care, and our beloved master child, the computer.
If you enjoy science fiction aimed at a noble cause, you'll love Steve Proskauer's `Gaia's Web.
`Gaia's Web' is a fast-reading, enjoyable, and entertaining work about 4 scientists with complementary technical expertise. The 4 take it upon themselves to save the earth from inevitable destruction resulting from the effects of global warming, air pollution, earthquakes, ...
The novel sci-fi techniques they invent, while incredible, yet are adequately explained to the point of near credibility.
The author deftly weaves his tale alternating between progress in the experimental design, social interactions among the 4 scientists, and the lives of outside groups, including: the US President and his cabinet; a central-Asia country ruled by a cruel tyrant; a separatist religious sect dominated by a polygamous ruler; and a Wall-Street stockbroker disenchanted with his home- and work-life.
Character development is excellent; and provides a realistic backdrop to complement the details of the sci-fi processes leading to the accomplishment of the desired results.