James's Reviews > WWW: Watch

WWW by Robert J. Sawyer
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's review
Dec 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi
Read in December, 2010

This latest Sawyer novel is part two of a trilogy continuing the tale of a blind girl, who through a new technology that helped her see, also helped her see an emerging artificial intelligence (AI).

Sawyer does a great job at keeping the novel well-paced, and throwing a clever nugget or two at those who are familiar with science fiction films and novels. The only "con" is that reading the first novel is a must to reading the second. It would be really hard to follow otherwise.

"Watch" is a governmental agency that has put it upon itself to wipe out the Webmind (the AI), regardless of no proof that the Webmind means harm to humankind. In fact, Webmind finds that humans are fascinating creatures and realizes that if humans are wiped out, eventually he would be too!

The story not only involves a fascinating evolution for Webmind, but also for the communication problems of Hobo, a bonobo/chimp hybrid, who is having some problems with dealing with humans himself. The sign language that Webmind uses on Hobo to help him out is a lot of fun to read.

Another fun thing to read is Caitlin developing as a teenager -- there's a bit of a love triangle between the 'jerk' Trevor and her infatuation with math nerd Matthew. Sawyer thankfully does not allow the novel to get too maudlin or soap opera.

Sci-Fi Allusions:

Mention by one character of the TV series 'Flash Forward' which is amusing since Sawyer himself wrote the novel that the TV series is based.

Star Trek the "Motionless Picture" is mentioned. Webmind quoted heavily from Spock and Kirk which was hilarious.

2001: A Space Odyssey, War Games and other films that dealt with artificial intelligence, although Webmind prefers the AI movies that put the AI in a positive light!

Bottom Line:

What a fun novel, easy to read and you are really rooting for Caitlin and wanting the government agents out to get Webmind to lose. The characters in the governmental agency are not well-developed however, and Sawyer drops the whole Communist freedom fighter introduced in the first book. Finally, the revelation of one of the characters being gay does not add to the plot at all and comes across as having to add a gay character as a token character.

Even so, highly recommended.
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