Genre: Science Fiction Publication.Date March 30th 2010 Pages: 330 Published By: Penguin Canada Website WWW Website Wake - Goodreads My review copy: paperback provided by the publisher (*thank you*~) Where to get: Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Amazon
Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math-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...(goodreads.com)
"How do you find a Canadian in a crowded room? Start stepping on people’s feet and wait for someone to apologize to you"
"The sky above the island was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel—which is to say it was a bright, cheery blue."
"Not darkness, for that implies an understanding of light. Not silence, for that suggests a familiarity with sound. Not loneliness, for that requires knowledge of others. But still, faintly, so tenuous that if it were any less it wouldn’t exist at all: awareness. Nothing more than that. Just awareness—a vague, ethereal sense of being. Being . . . but not becoming. No marking of time, no past or future—only an endless, featureless now, and, just barely there in that boundless moment, inchoate and raw, the dawning of perception . . ."
Fascinating, engrossing and thought-provoking, Wake is the first installment in the fantastic WWW Trilogy series by Robert J. Sawyer. This profound and thematically diverse novel explores some of the extremely important issues, like the origins and emergence of consciousness, information technology and artificial intelligence. It’s a brilliant, fast-paced and emotionally engaging story full of suspense, humor and Canadian trivia that will blow your mind!
The book follows at least three different story lines that, at least in the first volume, don’t seem to be related to each other in any particular way.
First, we have Caitlin Decter, a smart and likable 16-year-old girl with a healthy dose of sass. Caitlin was blind from birth. Her retinas encode what they are seeing in a way that doesn’t make sense to her brain, and so even though her eyes are perfectly healthy, the encoding errors prevent her from seeing. She never even once saw how the world really looks like, never had a chance to experience the vast variety of colors and shapes, never saw her parents and friends. Caitlin spent 16 years of her life in totally impenetrable darkness, so when a Japanese scientist, Masayuki Kuroda, offered her an experimental implant and possibly a chance to see for the first time, she gladly accepted it.
Together with her mother Caitlin flies to Japan and undergoes a surgical procedure. A signal-processing device is placed directly behind her left retina. Its purpose is to correct the encoding errors. However, instead of normal vision, the implant allows her to “see” the Web with thousands of links and connections intertwined with each other in beautiful landscape of colors. As she explores the new found cyberspace world, she discovers an intelligent being, a consciousness on the web that not only thinks on its own, but is capable of learning and communicating. Caitlin, together with her new friend – Webmind – are about to change the world forever.
The second storyline follows Shoshana Glick, a 27-year-old grad student working at the research facility in southern California, and an ape named Hobo, who is a mix of two breeds – a chimpanzee and hobo bonobo. He’s a very special ape and not only because of his genetics, he’s also smart and self aware, and can communicate with humans using sign language. Hobo stays at the Marcuse Institute, among people he considers to be his friends, but his future is still bleak. There’s a custody battle going on between two groups of scientists – one that wants to nurture and study him, and the other that wants to castrate him, to ensure he can’t further dilute the bloodline of the species.
Meanwhile, an outbreak of the bird flu occurs in China and the Chinese government takes some drastic yet questionable measures to contain the situation. A whole village gets wiped out by a bomb, and the communication with the outside world gets cut off completely to avoid the spread of the news.
This, as we learn later, is the incident that leads to the emergence of Webmind, the world’s first digital intelligence.
This book is marvelous. It caught my interest from the very beginning with the author’s unique and wonderfully refreshing take on understanding artificial intelligence and emergence of consciousness. I fell in love with Sawyer’s fantabulous writing style. This is a Science Fiction book, but it doesn’t read as one. I’d say it’s a Science Fiction for people who don’t necessary like SF genre, but for those who enjoy a solid plot full of big ideas and real people. The story flow is deliciously smooth. Despite covering a wide range of topics – from math, medicine, technology and intelligence to what it means to be aware, conscious and inspired – it doesn’t come across as overwhelming or too informative. Instead, what we get is a fantastic background for compelling stories of hope, fear, trust and acceptance.
There’s not a single thing I didn’t like about Wake. It was stimulating and emotionally engaging. The diversity in characters was phenomenal. We get a broad palette of protagonists. There’s not only the difference in age and nationality, but also profound and clear differences in culture, health, intelligence, sexuality and world view. The complexity of this novel is deeply impressive.
The first installment in the WWW Trilogy ends with a mind-boggling cliff hanger and I’m sure you won’t even blink before picking up volume two, Watch.This is officially my numero uno SF book EVER!
This review is posted as a part of WWW Trilogy Week @Bookish
Come back tomorrow to read my review of Watch!
And don't forget to come back on 16th to enter the huge giveaway of the whole WWW Trilogy!!!
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About the AuthorEvie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and chatting with fellow book-worms.