Wake is another future classic from Robert and the start of a news series for him, in which the principle protagonist learns to see the web and learns of the consiousness stirring within.
As with Flash Forward its beautifully sculpted. The characters a triumph especially with the care and consideration of the protagonista which I really love with an overall story arc that just flows from the page into the readers imagination. Add to this an attention to detail and research that really will make you grasp without the utilisation of an info dump and I think that Robert will be a name to flag as perhaps one of the future names to judge the genre by.
Imaginative, Creative and hopefully one that will inspire readers to reach for thier dreams in much the same way Clarke or Asimov have for previous generations.
on 13 May 2010
Unfortunately, this is Robert Sawyer's book that I like least. The reason why I like his other books is that he takes an idea or event, and then describes its consequences for society and individuals. The idea or event is generally reasonably plausible, and the consequences are quite logical. This makes his books not some wild fantasy, but quite believable. "Wake" has a much narrower scope. It is mainly about one teenage girl, who discovers a new intelligence via the internet. The consequences of this for society don't play a role in the book, and there is very little of what it means for others than Caitlin Decter. I find that a pity. I also find the character of Caitlin Decter not very interesting. Compared to the main characters in his other books, she is much less interesting. Maybe this is because she is a teenager and has much less personal history, but that is neither here nor there.
on 23 February 2012
Once I read 'Wake', the first book in the trilogy, I 'had' to read the other two because the implications of the story are so intriguing that I wanted to know what was next. Intriguing pretty much like a blockbuster can be with lots of action and shallow characters though.
If you're a geek and don't care too much about poetry, you'll like it.
There are some very good points about the internet, and its evolution toward a sentient being is something anyone interested in sci-fi, h+, tech trends etc, is inevitably attracted to.
If you love good literature and in books you look for poetry, then it'll disappoint you.
The characters are shallow, and few details are given about them. Even when they're given, they tend to stick to eye colours and superficial stuff like that. The book is a never-ending sequence of actions, as you would see in an action movie. In fact, it feels more like a script than a book. It's very visual, and leaves nothing to the other senses. No character ever seems to have time for pondering and introspection, since everyone is trapped in this lunatic cage of constant action. There is no poetic image in over 1,000 pages. It feels like it's being written by a scientist with no artistic gift.
This is a successful book, and its author is a successful author. Why?
on 25 April 2011
There's an interesting premise in this novel by Robert Sawyer that seeks to explore the nature of self-awareness and its origins. The story centres on a young girl Caitlan. Blind since birth, she's given a chance to see thanks to Japanese research scientist Dr Kuroda, but she gets more than she bargains for when the 'EyePod' (as she names the device) allows her to see cyberspace (the world wide web), and there she comes to perceive a nascent awareness.
Something is becoming aware of the outside world, of Caitlan, and through that it is becoming aware of itself. No, don't think of the Internet becoming aware; it's not that but this entity exists on the web all the same. Throw in an experiment with primates of different species beong taught to communicate over the species barrier with sign language, Internet censorship in China, and we have a number of strands that begin to weave together an exploration of consciousness.
It sounds fascinating, but the truth is the novel left me strangely unmoved, despite it covering a theme I expected would fire up my interest. The book is part of a series, so doubtless th real meat and bones of the story are yet to come, but I can't say this novel has inspired me to read further and find out.
on 2 April 2013
I liked the concept of this book. The idea of a entity coming into existence on the internet is an interesting idea.
The only down side I found were that there are plot lines that seemed unfinished, so either the author got bored with the characters he was writing about or they will feature in the rest of the trilogy. Either way, I think the next book is worth the read as I have been left intrigued.
on 21 January 2011
In typical Sawyer fashion, a scientific development is examined by putting a handful of sympathetic characters through a life-changing experience--in this case we follow the fortunes of Caitlin in the present time. A brilliant young mathematician who has managed to find her way around the web using a series of unique strategies, she is believable and well-drawn, as are her family and the Japanese doctor treating her. Sawyer's scene setting is pitch perfect and I enjoyed the touches of humour regarding the relationship between America and Canada. The sub-plot depicting the plight of Hobo, a bonobo/chimpanzee cross is equally engrossing and addresses the subject of growing self-awareness from an intriguing angle - which is one of Sawyer's strengths.
However, if you're sensing a `but', you'd be right. The book opens in the viewpoint of the worldwide web and for me, this particular `character' failed to convince me until right at the very end when the writing and delivery was finally plausible. I have no problem with the idea of the Net becoming self-aware, indeed, I think that Sawyer does a masterful job in stacking up a tenable set of circumstances that jolt it into consciousness. What bothers me is the depiction of the Net `character'. In my opinion, the writing, with the choice of vocabulary, phrasing and thought process just did not sufficiently reflect the reality of what `It' is. I'm aware that it was a fiendishly difficult task to pull off and, ironically, if Sawyer had been less able at setting up such a realistic scenario, then this weakness would not be so glaringly obvious. Apart from this one reservation, the book is an intriguing exploration into what causes self-awareness--and I'm quite sure that during the other two books in the trilogy, 'Watch' and 'Wonder', Sawyer will continue to offer thought provoking insights into the consequences of a sentient being running the world wide web.
on 16 August 2010
This is the first book of Sawyer's I have read and...bear with me...the first time I've felt compelled to pen a review. As a premise the spontaneous awakening of AI on the web sounded interesting and I expected to be swept along with a convincing and enthralling account of how it may come about. I was sorely disappointed. Sawyer's treatment of the mechanism of the awakening is brief and simplistic, a thin and brittle layer of gloss that is as unconvincing as it is shallow.
Sadly that is not the only problem with the tale which progresses in a monstrously linear fashion. Two side stories are never fully developed and fail to connect at all with the main thread leaving one with a sense of puzzlement and disappointment.
My overall impression though was that this is a book for young teenagers and Sawyers unpleasant habit of signposting areas of mathematics to go away and study reinforced that.
on 9 June 2011
Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a matematics genius-and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something-some other-lurking in the background. And it's getting more and more intelligent with each passing day. The first of a spellbinding future history trilogy that charts what will happen when the world's first first, and superior, artificial-intelligence is born in the web.
While I enjoyed this book to some extent there were a few problems in it for me. Firstly I do not have a mathematical bone in my body, so there was an awful lot of explanation that just zipped over the top of my head.
Fortunately it is still possible to appreciate the story without being a math genius.
But the second problem was the story itself.
The premise that the world wide web can become self aware and start to interact with an individual is an interesting one, but there was no excitement in the book, the protagonist is one sided and flat. And just as the story was getting off the ground , so to speak, it ended, paving the way for the next book in the series. Now, don't get me wrong I enjopy a good cliffhanger as much as the next person, but there was no no cliffhanger, the book just seemed to ......stop .
I will read the next book in the series, but I feel no overwhelming urge to dash out and find it to read immediately, and for me that is generally the sign of a good book.
on 1 September 2014
A sympathetic view of the awakening of sight in a previously blind girl, mixed with detailed descriptions of aspects of 'webology', done in such a way that the narrative unfolds logically and evoking emotion. I am looking to see where the next in the series goes.
on 31 December 2010
The premise of this story - a blind girl gets a Device to make her see, and ends up being able to see the structure of the world wide web - was a real turn-off for me. It's ludicrous, is one of the worst-explained parts of the story, and given my profession it's a great big flashing warning that we have here an author who's going to write wrongly about something I am an expert in. However, I already know from several of his previous works that Sawyer writes good stories, so I decided to risk it and buy the book second-hand for a pittance.
I'm glad that I did. Thankfully, while he does get the technology wrong on so many levels, the story is indeed a good one, and we also have believable characters and sound dialogue. That papers over the technological cracks that would otherwise have spoilt it for me. There is another weakness though - the ending leaves far too much dangling. Of course, there's a sequel, so no doubt things will get tidied up there, but I so much prefer series where each individual episode at least tries to work on its own.
Recommended, apart from to sad sacks who insist on rigourous hyper-correctness in their fiction.