May Books 18) WWW: Wake, by Robert J. Sawyer

I don’t think I will ever much enjoy a Sawyer novel, but this one irritated me less than most of his books. The prose was not particularly awful, and the plot mostly makes sense; the story of the blind girl gaining sight for the first time resonates almost neatly with the story of a conscious intelligence developing in the internet.

It is, of course, a flawed book. Caitlin writes a livejournal which sounds nothing like any teenager’s livejournal I have read. The AI character, absorbing all the knowledge of the www, is unfazed by linguistic differences or by the difficulty of telling truth from fiction, and deduces middle Canadian morality from Project Gutenberg (and I hate cute disembodied artificial intelligences almost as much as I hate cute robots). There are two subplots, one about China and one about intelligent apes, which go nowhere (they may be setting up for the two coming volumes of the trilogy, but I must judge this volume on its own).

Most damning, Caitlin, whose life has been utterly constrained by her own disability, does not even notice her father’s somewhat different disability until two-thirds of the way through the book; which seems utterly out of character for the sort of person we are told she is.

So, not surprisingly, this is at the bottom of my Hugo list so far, with two more to go.
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One thought on “May Books 18) WWW: Wake, by Robert J. Sawyer

  1. This is one of my favourite categories in the Hugos, and as I know most of the nominees personally, and have read quite a bit by the others, I expect my voting will be largely based on personal bias.

    Judging on the pieces in the Hugo packet alone is probably the fairest thing to do, but will tend to favour writers like Claire who put out a limited amount of well polished articles, and penalise Chris, who puts out a vast amount of fan writing with little or no editing. I feel that when Chris’s volume of work is considered as a whole, it becomes clear what a fantastic fan writer he is, even though the individual pieces could do with more editing.

    I would be very happy for any of the nominees to win it as they are all very deserving.

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