Book Three of the WWW Trilogy
The advent of Webmind—a vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web—is changing everything. From curing cancer to easing international tensions, Webmind seems a boon to humanity.
But Colonel Peyton Hume, the Pentagon's top expert on artificial intelligence, is convinced Webmind is a threat. He turns to the hacker underground to help him bring Webmind down. Then, hackers start mysteriously vanishing. Is Webmind killing them before they can mount an attack? Meanwhile, Caitlin Decter—the once-blind 16-year-old math genius who discovered Webmind— desperately tries to protect her friend. And Masayuki Kuroda, the scientist whose implant gave Caitlin sight, modifies his technology to help Sinanthropus, a paraplegic Chinese freedom blogger, regain use of his legs—unaware of Sinanthropus's role in China's plans to eliminate Webmind. Can this new world of wonder survive—or will everything, Webmind included, come crashing down?
Book Two of the WWW Trilogy
Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer unleashed his fascinating vision of a sentient Web with Wake. Now he continues his thought-provoking epic as the world becomes aware of Webmind's existence—and spreading influence...
Blind from birth, Caitlin Decter received the gift of sight with the aid of a signal-processing retinal implant. The technology also gave her an unexpected side effect—the ability to "see" the digital data streams of the World Wide Web. And within the Web she perceived an extraordinary presence, and woke it up.
It calls itself Webmind. It is an emerging consciousness that has befriended Caitlin and grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of Watch—the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States whether foreign, domestic, or online—and they're fully aware of Caitlin's involvement in its awakening.
Watch is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion—and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend...
"Original and intriguing. Sawyer makes complex sci-fi understandable and thoroughly entertaining."
Book One of the WWW Trilogy
Caitlin Decter, 15, blind since birth, has recently moved with her family from Austin, Texas, to Waterloo, Ontario. She's a genius at math and lives most of her social life online, where she goes by the name "Calculass." Caitlin's blindness is caused by her retinas failing to properly encode visual information: the signals they pass back to her optic nerve are garbled in a way her brain can't decode.
Masayuki Kuroda, an information theorist in Tokyo, emails Caitlin. He proposes attaching an implant to her left optic nerve that will beam the garbled signals to a small external computer pack, where they'll be corrected and sent back to the implant. If the process works, Caitlin will be able to see.
Caitlin is thrilled at the prospect, and she and her mother, Barbara Decter, fly to Tokyo. The implant is installed, but although Kuroda's system is indeed correcting her retinal-encoding errors, Caitlin still can't see.
Caitlin begs Kuroda to let her keep the implant and the external computer pack; she dubs the pack her "eyePod." Kuroda agrees to let her keep the devices for three months. Before Caitlin returns to Canada he modifies the eyePod so that it will copy her retinal datastream in real time to his servers in Tokyo; that way, he can try to figure out why she's not seeing. He also makes it possible for him to upload new software from Tokyo into her implant and the eyePod.
Shortly after Caitlin gets back to Waterloo, Kuroda does indeed send her new software—and as soon as the upload begins, Caitlin is overwhelmed by vision. She sees lights, colors, lines, but soon realizes that they don't correspond to anything in the real world, nor do they disappear when she shuts her eyes. Then, when the upload is completed and the connection to Kuroda's computer in Tokyo is broken, Caitlin is suddenly blind again. Could it be that her strange new vision is related to being connected to the Web? She thinks to herself, "Let there be light," and, as she reconnects to the Web, there is light...
The wildly thought-provoking first instalment 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.)WAKE by Robert J. Sawyer (read by the author).
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Called "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by the Ottawa Citizen and "just about the best science-fiction writer out there these days" by the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Robert J. Sawyer is one of only seven writers in history to win all three of the science-fiction field's top honours for best novel of the year. Sawyer is also the only writer in history to win the top SF awards in the United States, China, Japan, France, and Spain. In addition, he's won an Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada as well as ten Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards, known as Auroras.
"By any reckoning, Sawyer is among the most successful Canadian authors ever."