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WWW: Wake (WWW Trilogy) Hardcover – April 7, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The wildly thought-provoking first installment of Sawyer's WWW trilogy, serialized in Analog in 2008 and 2009, explores the origins and emergence of consciousness. Blind teen Caitlin Decter gets an experimental signal-processing implant that inexplicably opens up her vision to the wondrous infrastructure of the World Wide Web. Inside the Web is a newborn webmind, a globe-spanning self-contained consciousness that is just becoming aware of the outside world. Secondary plot threads about a highly intelligent hybrid primate and Chinese bloggers battling a repressive government extend the motif of expanding awareness. The thematic diversity—and profundity—makes this one of Sawyer's strongest works to date. Numerous dangling plot threads are an unnecessary pointer to the forthcoming books; readers will keep coming back for the ideas. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Caitlin was born blind, and when, newly arrived in tenth grade, she is offered a chance at an experimental procedure to give her sight, she leaps at it, despite previous disappointments. When she returns from the Tokyo hospital in which she underwent the procedure, it seems a failure. Soon enough, though, she discovers that, instead of reality, she is perceiving the Web. What’s particularly interesting is the background noise. Something strange is floating around behind the nodes of normal Webspace; a closer look reveals that, whatever it is, it’s not just meaningless noise. Caitlin’s story alternates with those of Hobo, a chimp whose claim to fame is being one of the first two apes to video-chat online; an entity of mysterious provenance; and a Chinese dissident blogger who is quite curious about why everything from outside China is blocked. Sawyer’s take on theories about the origin of consciousness, generated within the framework of an engaging story, is fascinating, and his approach to machine consciousness and the Internet is surprisingly fresh. --Regina Schroeder
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Top customer reviews
First, some of the characters-- Caitlin as the blind math-IT-blogging genius, simply comes off as arrogant and petulant. An argument could be made that she is a teen and that is the way it is, I just did not take it that way. And maybe I am just too old to understand "Calculass". I just think there is so much more that could have provided depth to blindness besides the love of Helen Keller. Then we have the autistic father that adds nothing to the story. The vacuous Dr. Masayuki Kuroda seems unlikely to have created anything like the eye-pod that is the star of the story.
Second, maybe Sawyer was trying to stay out of the normal sci-fi thriller framework or maybe not. That framework is composed of multiple story lines converging into one with a climactic conclusion, often with a tease or cliffhanger into the next segment. Sure, all the different stories are there, but they are hardly tied together in this segment. So what do Chinese data walls and painting communicative monkeys have to do with the emergence of a web intelligence and a blind girl? Not much in this story. Maybe next time? And for those that seemed to think there was some kind of cliff hanger at the end...really? That was not a cliff hanger.
Third, the overall segments of emergence of the web intelligence were just silly in comparison to other stories of this genre. It seemed superficial, and you may find yourself reading quicker through these portions.
If there was one concept in the book that was intriguing, and somewhat unfamiliar to this reader, was the idea of bicameralism. When sci-fi encourages you to look outside the book for additional information, that is a win for everyone.
I found myself reading faster through the second half just to provide some level of courtesy to the author that I read the whole story and could comment on it. More importantly, if the objective of story telling is to endear the reader to want more (a win-win for reader and author), Wake did not do it. In fact, I am less likely to explore the probable diverse and entertaining works of Robert J. Sawyer based on Wake.
This review will probably get some "not helpful" votes because those who provide 5 stars to this story will disagree with the opinion rather than understanding the perspective. So be it, but please consider the following stories as better representations of the same genre that Sawyer is exploring.
Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears
The storytelling only flops when the author pretends to be the consciousness of the Web. It's goofy but perhaps does conform to how some people imagine consciousness to arise. I don't find the sudden approach compelling, much less a sudden sophistication.
My biggest challenge with the story is perhaps my own expertise. I'm an experienced software developer, including a web developer, and I know the ins-and-outs of how the web works. The author is largely consistent with the actual workings of the web, but the explanations don't hold my interest. For me, the serious failing is the manner in which the protagonist perceives the web. That's pure fantasy to me. I really was hoping for something more inspired.
They should put a warning label on these things for adults..
Most recent customer reviews
can't give it 5 stars.Read more