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Wonder Special Edition Ebook: Book Three In The WWW Trilogy

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It includes an essay and a short story by the author. Wonder: 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 conv It includes an essay and a short story by the author. Wonder: 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?


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It includes an essay and a short story by the author. Wonder: 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 conv It includes an essay and a short story by the author. Wonder: 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?

30 review for Wonder Special Edition Ebook: Book Three In The WWW Trilogy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jake Forbes

    What I loved about Wake, the first book in the WWW trilogy, was the way Sawyer lifted the reader up, along with the characters, through the process of emerging digital consciousness. The second volume is a real nail-biter as we anxiously wait to see how the world will respond to the birth of an AI that by its very nature monitors everything we do online. For the last year, I've been looking forward to reading the conclusion. As compulsively readable as the first two books, Wonder ends the WWW tr What I loved about Wake, the first book in the WWW trilogy, was the way Sawyer lifted the reader up, along with the characters, through the process of emerging digital consciousness. The second volume is a real nail-biter as we anxiously wait to see how the world will respond to the birth of an AI that by its very nature monitors everything we do online. For the last year, I've been looking forward to reading the conclusion. As compulsively readable as the first two books, Wonder ends the WWW trilogy on a optimistic but frustratingly shallow note. As Webmind notes, there is a dearth of sci-fi that regards AIs in an optimistic light, and I really appreciate Sawyer's take here. That said, Sawyer is awfully liberal with projecting the values of the WIRED demographic onto society at large (and how ballsy he is, scripting a full John Stewart interview while using composites or anonymity elsewhere!). Also, wheres the previous two books dealt more with objective science & tech, Wonder's primary focus is ethics; while I might agree with much of what Sawyer's saying, the pedagogy is a little heavy-handed, especially when filtered through Hobo. Taken as a whole, the WWW trilogy is a wonderful read and Webmind a marvelous addition to the catelog of great sci-fi characters, even if he left me feeling disappointed.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I devoured the last two installments in Robert J. Sawyer's "WWW" trilogy and was anxious for the third installment to hit the shelves. I was fascinated to see how Sawyer would bring together some of the threads we saw in book one and to find out the final fate of the Webmind. So, I guess you could say I had some pretty high expectations for "WWW: Wonder." And I guess you could say that the book didn't exactly live up to them. It's still a good story and the ideas raised in the book are fascinatin I devoured the last two installments in Robert J. Sawyer's "WWW" trilogy and was anxious for the third installment to hit the shelves. I was fascinated to see how Sawyer would bring together some of the threads we saw in book one and to find out the final fate of the Webmind. So, I guess you could say I had some pretty high expectations for "WWW: Wonder." And I guess you could say that the book didn't exactly live up to them. It's still a good story and the ideas raised in the book are fascinating ones. The concept of how humanity would react if an artificial intelligence developed that was interested in bringing out the best in humanity instead of trying to exterminate us all is compelling and fascinating. Watching as Webmind tries to use his new seemingly limitless intelligence to connect things together to find cures for cancer and to try to bring out better instincts in humanity is interesting. And seeing the reaction of certain groups to the evolution of Webmind and making steps to try and stop the AI in its tracks before it becomes too powerful helps drive much of the second half of the story. But for all of that, I can't help but come away from the novel feeling a bit let down and disappointed by how it all ends. Sawyer does manage to weave the plotline of the Great Firewall of China, Bobo the Monkey and Webmind together in the story's final chapters. But there are times when Sawyer is too obvious in his political views and it comes across on the page. Thinly veiled criticism of recent administrations occur often in the novel as do complete and utter support of other political factions, parties and administrations. I get that the characters (and to some extend Sawyer) are passionate in their beliefs and feelings on these issues, but if I wanted political diatribe, I'd flip on a cable news outlet. Those moments took me too far out of the book to really become as immersed in the story and characters as I was by the first two. Looking back, there were those moments there as well but they didn't pull me out of the book in the way those moments do here. It's a shame really because it keeps what could have been a great trilogy of novels and makes them just merely pretty darn good. The novels are worth reading and I'm not sorry for the investment of time I put into them. As I said before Sawyer has some fascinating ideas in this trilogy and this book. It's just a shame that the series had to come to an end with a disappointing third installment.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    While Saywer has long been one of my favourite sci-fi authors, I have had a few disappointments with a few of his works in the past. The WWW trilogy's first two books renewed my confidence in RJS and had me eagerly awaiting WWW:Wonder. The final installment though was not quite what I came to expect after reading the first two novels. The story was definitely entertaining, and continued on logically from where WATCH left off. The characters were all back in some meaningful way, and up until about While Saywer has long been one of my favourite sci-fi authors, I have had a few disappointments with a few of his works in the past. The WWW trilogy's first two books renewed my confidence in RJS and had me eagerly awaiting WWW:Wonder. The final installment though was not quite what I came to expect after reading the first two novels. The story was definitely entertaining, and continued on logically from where WATCH left off. The characters were all back in some meaningful way, and up until about 3/4 of the way through the novel I was really enjoying it. Then I found there to be a downward turn in the plot. Great science fiction relies on the basis that what is happening is at least plausible. It takes current technology and extrapolates it into something new and believable. Webmind is a good example of taking something we currently have, the internet, and taking it to the next level. (It isn't a far stretch of the imagination to assume that the web and A.I. may at somepoint converge), but I feel that Sawyer went a bit too far at the end. *Potential Spoilers ahead* Forget the world changing effects Webmind had on a particular country, which I found was not believable in the slightest, but the commentary of Webmind in the future was extraneous. The story had a satisfactory climax, even in the premise was a bit unbelievable. But to fast forward billions of years was rediculous. Am I, the reader, really to accept the fact that the internet still exists that far into the future? And that webmind is still relevant and functional. Seems too unrealistic to me. Overall the WWW trilogy was good reading. Personal score is 8/10.

  4. 4 out of 5

    أشرف فقيه

    برغم من انها مكتوبة بلغة سهلة وتبدو -في ظاهرها- موجهة للناشئة، ألا أن هذه الثلاثية هي من أروع وأعمق ما قرأت. ليست عمل خيال علمي بقدر ماهي مقاربة فلسفية للسؤال الكبير: ما هي الروح؟ ما معنى الوجود؟ وإذا كان "الوعي" هو الجواب الأبسط والأكثر مباشرة، فإن روبرت سوير يغوص بِنَا لأعماق هذا الوعي، في صورته الاصطناعية الصرفة، وفي وقت يتنازعنا فيها الخوف من السيطرة المتنامية للخوارزم الذكي الواعي الذي يسير تفاصيل حياتنا الالكترونية. الانترنت باتت اكبر مستودع تراكمي للوعي، وللخبرات. الا يحق لنا ان ننتظر بصبر برغم من انها مكتوبة بلغة سهلة وتبدو -في ظاهرها- موجهة للناشئة، ألا أن هذه الثلاثية هي من أروع وأعمق ما قرأت. ليست عمل خيال علمي بقدر ماهي مقاربة فلسفية للسؤال الكبير: ما هي الروح؟ ما معنى الوجود؟ وإذا كان "الوعي" هو الجواب الأبسط والأكثر مباشرة، فإن روبرت سوير يغوص بِنَا لأعماق هذا الوعي، في صورته الاصطناعية الصرفة، وفي وقت يتنازعنا فيها الخوف من السيطرة المتنامية للخوارزم الذكي الواعي الذي يسير تفاصيل حياتنا الالكترونية. الانترنت باتت اكبر مستودع تراكمي للوعي، وللخبرات. الا يحق لنا ان ننتظر بصبر نافد ظهور كينونة واعية مستقلة الإدراك على هذه الانترنت في أية لحظة؟ الرد التقليدي لهكذا تصور يقتضي القلق من كيان شبكي سيأخذه منطقه المحكم لمعاداة البشر.. على أساس أنهم أقل كفاءة وذكاء وأشد إضراراً بالحياة. لأنهم تتنازعهم عواطف وفطرات مدمرة ولأن سنة التطور الطبيعية تقتضي أن يزيحنا الذكاء الآلي من على قمة هرم السلطة. هذه الرواية تلعب على تلك الأوتار وسواها.. وتصوغ بشكل باهر حبكة مفادها أن الخير والشر، الحب والكره والتضحية والإيثار والأنانية قيم تحكم عوالم الإنسان والحيوان.. وغيرها من الكينونات التي قد تظهر على مسرح الحياة.. بكل أشكالها المدهشة في تنوعها.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    'Wonder' is the third and final volume in the series. It faithfully continues the formula of following an emergent AI through the eyes of a previously blind High School girl, converting high concept SF into something sweet and human, even somewhat juvenile. As usual, the author seasons it thoroughly with little science nuggets. This installment is by far the most suspenseful, as the 'life' of our beloved AI is threatened on several fronts, and there are many clues that it is far darker than it se 'Wonder' is the third and final volume in the series. It faithfully continues the formula of following an emergent AI through the eyes of a previously blind High School girl, converting high concept SF into something sweet and human, even somewhat juvenile. As usual, the author seasons it thoroughly with little science nuggets. This installment is by far the most suspenseful, as the 'life' of our beloved AI is threatened on several fronts, and there are many clues that it is far darker than it seemed. I was moved to tears by the ending, which was extravagantly sweet. This installment had even better thoughts on game theory, but became even more silly about the high school girl. There was a very silly scene where her dorky boyfriend had to push her down the street in the office chair, to give her the feeling of speed, so that she could go faster in the visual representation of the web, so that she could break through the "Great Firewall of China, a severing of connections between the rest of the world in China. I continue to protest the premise of where the AI gets its resources, and his thoughts on what could cause a self-consciousness to arise. Granted, he has many credentials in the area, but it's still hypothetical till it happens, and I am convinced that there must be a self-centred drive. When the machine must calculate what helps it reach its goals, that's when it must contemplate the notion of 'self' and begin to improve the powers of that self to reach its goals. I predict that will be consciousness or something very much like it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John Carter McKnight

    Robert J. Sawyer embodies the reasons why many of us were drawn to science fiction, way back when: as the title of the book expresses, "wonder." In this sweet, sympathetic conclusion to his emergent-AI trilogy, Sawyer gives us a book-length "it gets better" video, from school bullying to governmental tyranny to fear of change and each other. Caitlyn Decter continues to grow up, perhaps the most sweetly real teenage character in SF history (I totally fantasy-cast her as the young woman who plays A Robert J. Sawyer embodies the reasons why many of us were drawn to science fiction, way back when: as the title of the book expresses, "wonder." In this sweet, sympathetic conclusion to his emergent-AI trilogy, Sawyer gives us a book-length "it gets better" video, from school bullying to governmental tyranny to fear of change and each other. Caitlyn Decter continues to grow up, perhaps the most sweetly real teenage character in SF history (I totally fantasy-cast her as the young woman who plays Alexis on Castle: they've got the same tentative-but-steady maturity and math geekiness). Some of the ideological set-pieces are the most fun scenes of the book: a global coming-out of a closeted minority, a schoolyard fight, a couple swift debates between Webmind and Caitlyn's mom, over human moral progress. Some of the story's edge is blunted by Sawyer's sweetness (one political calling-on-the-carpet scene seemed unrealistically short on wrath), but for classic Roddenberry-esque faith in human goodness, you can't beat Wonder.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael Christopher

    Sawyer builds on the web that he wove during the second book in the trilogy as governments and individuals struggle to cope with the reality of the internet having come to life. The pacing of the novel is on par with WATCH, but with the complex back-story is already in place the novel is able to leap from place to place and so it feels like a more nimble read. As Sawyer's characters explore the new world that dawns with the AI now omnipresent, the story explores the ramifications of our behaviou Sawyer builds on the web that he wove during the second book in the trilogy as governments and individuals struggle to cope with the reality of the internet having come to life. The pacing of the novel is on par with WATCH, but with the complex back-story is already in place the novel is able to leap from place to place and so it feels like a more nimble read. As Sawyer's characters explore the new world that dawns with the AI now omnipresent, the story explores the ramifications of our behaviour: dry scientific theories are brought to life as analogies are drawn between them and the bloody reality of humanity, all-too-likely hostile reactions are juxtaposed against the possible benefits of such an AI, humanity's constant choice between violent self-interest and peaceful community relationships is starkly laid out, and yet none of the discussions or events seem forced or contrived. True to form, the complex web of Sawyer's story converges on a thrilling climax that rattles the reader immediately before and epic ending that will not be easily forgotten.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Robert J. Sawyer brings his WWW trilogy to a satisfying and very definite conclusion in this volume—yes, folks, amazing as it may sound, the man's actually written a trilogy that consists of just three books, no mean feat these days. I'm assuming you're at least somewhat familiar with the previous installments in Sawyer's series about a nascent world-spanning artificial intelligence that evolves out of World Wide Web network traffic. If not, go back and pick up the first two before even consideri Robert J. Sawyer brings his WWW trilogy to a satisfying and very definite conclusion in this volume—yes, folks, amazing as it may sound, the man's actually written a trilogy that consists of just three books, no mean feat these days. I'm assuming you're at least somewhat familiar with the previous installments in Sawyer's series about a nascent world-spanning artificial intelligence that evolves out of World Wide Web network traffic. If not, go back and pick up the first two before even considering this one—this is by no means a standalone novel, and it does depend heavily upon familiarity with its predecessors. The WWW series is also not the first word on the subject of sympathetic machine intelligences... I'd also recommend (if you have not already done so) reading seminal works like Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, with its protagonist Mike HOLMES; David Gerrold's When H.A.R.L.I.E. Was One (either the original or the "2.0" version Gerrold updated later); or—if you can find it—Thomas J. Ryan's The Adolescence of P-1, which gets explicitly acknowledged in WWW:Wonder. In this installment, the Webmind (as he has styled himself) (and the pronoun is Webmind's choice as well, by the way—Webmind has decided that his gender is male, and who are we to gainsay him?) has awakened and matured, and has already managed to survive at least one serious attempt to end his existence, all with the assistance of his human mentor Caitlin Decter (one of the most complex and interesting fictional teenagers I've ever run across)... but Webmind's long-term survival is by no means assured. The (unnamed, but rather Obama-ish) U.S. President's top advisors are counseling a preemptive strike "while we still can," against the threat of an omniscient electronic dictator, however benign. And all of Webmind's protestations—accurate though they may be—about his dependence upon humanity's continued existence, about his gratitude towards the entities that brought him into being, and about his rational moral stance in general, make no difference to people whose profession is paranoia. So even though it might seem that all of the conflicts Webmind might have were taken care of in the first two books, that turns out not to be the case. Sawyer knows how to write a taut thriller (to recycle a phrase), and he succeeds in making both Webmind and his humans sympathetic and interesting. There's one scene set at a high-school dance that particularly thrilled me, in which Sawyer manages to come up with a realistic (well, within the context of the story) way to have the underdog triumph, and with a neat turn of phrase to boot. Although Sawyer's prose is never really lyrical, and he's occasionally blatantly didactic, I found myself eagerly turning pages to find out What Happened Next. He manages to keep his penchant for infodumps to a minimum in this volume, while still including some interesting speculations about humanity's physical and social evolution along the way. I won't say this book is superior to WWW:Watch—that was the one that really impressed me with its improvement over its predecessor... but WWW:Wonder does deliver the goods, at Internet speed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    3.5 stars. Very readable, if overly preachy, as usually. I do like the central message, which is that a win-win outcome is possible in the information age, if we just believe it is. But there are a few rants that are as annoying as ever (Caitlin's Dad's lecture about why sexting is ok is just absurd) and the teen romance is unnecessarily rushed and uncomfortable, despite a few sweet moments. Wrapping up Hobo's involvement seemed really promising for a while, then petered out. And the big huge su 3.5 stars. Very readable, if overly preachy, as usually. I do like the central message, which is that a win-win outcome is possible in the information age, if we just believe it is. But there are a few rants that are as annoying as ever (Caitlin's Dad's lecture about why sexting is ok is just absurd) and the teen romance is unnecessarily rushed and uncomfortable, despite a few sweet moments. Wrapping up Hobo's involvement seemed really promising for a while, then petered out. And the big huge surprise was, um... a fun but totally unrealistic idea. I don't know, I just feel like it got away from him. He was trying to make a big point and he tried to make it so big that he lost the reality of it. But it's nice to see a story with a positive spin, debates about morality, and serious themes carried out in generally entertaining ways, that's my favorite kind of sci-fi. There is a lot of meat here, just not as much as the author thinks there is, and the story that carries it isn't quite as strong as it could or should be either. It's good, better than average, but not in my great pile. And I always get rubbed wrong by the author's bio, and reading it immediately following the story has probably made this review a bit more negative than it may otherwise have been. Something about the way he lists his many, many awards just strikes me as really arrogant. I don't know why, he's earned the honors. Read it for yourself, see what you think. But I've ended up feeling that way ever time I've read one of his books, so there is something in how that bio is worded, or in how darn long the thing is...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brian Layman

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. While I enjoyed the first two novels, this novel wasn't so much the story of Web Mind, but the usurping of the storyline for the purpose of making political statement. Using the term "usurping" is perhaps unfair as the point of the story may have, from the start, been to express pride in Canada's achievements and expound upon the moral superiority of Sawyer's convictions. What was only an undertone in the previous two books, and to a lesser degree FlashForward, was at a completely different leve While I enjoyed the first two novels, this novel wasn't so much the story of Web Mind, but the usurping of the storyline for the purpose of making political statement. Using the term "usurping" is perhaps unfair as the point of the story may have, from the start, been to express pride in Canada's achievements and expound upon the moral superiority of Sawyer's convictions. What was only an undertone in the previous two books, and to a lesser degree FlashForward, was at a completely different level in this book. It broke the consistency of the series in my mind. The author was so blatant in this as to label, as jerks, everyone who would have advised against the underage sex scene. Never mind that the two sixteen year old virgins had met for the first time only two months earlier and were in the midst of an extremely emotional situation. In my mind, tolerance should mean that you can accept people of differing opinion without unilaterally dismissing them with a label, thereby gaining the superiority to describe them as intolerant. But then I am being distracted from the point of this review which was to give the book 1.5 stars.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Irene Grumman

    The web has achieved consciousness. Through a young woman's internet-enabled device, the web communicates, first to the protagonist, then to the world. The story held my interest through the effects on the heroine and her family. Robert J. Sawyer bases this, as most of his novels, on his own experience as a teacher of science, and his voracious research. His sci-fi draws on biology rather than engineering, and has won Hugo and Nebula awards over the years. Now I have to read the first two in the The web has achieved consciousness. Through a young woman's internet-enabled device, the web communicates, first to the protagonist, then to the world. The story held my interest through the effects on the heroine and her family. Robert J. Sawyer bases this, as most of his novels, on his own experience as a teacher of science, and his voracious research. His sci-fi draws on biology rather than engineering, and has won Hugo and Nebula awards over the years. Now I have to read the first two in the series. (I often pick my reading from the New Books section of my local library.)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Evie

    ***Originally posted to: Bookish Blog Wonder is the final book in Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW Trilogy about Webmind, the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the World Wide Web. It was a fitting and perfectly satisfying ending to the series. Fans will be very pleased with how well Sawyer ties up all the loose ends, making it clear that this was a well thought out and thoroughly researched story. After discovering the existence of Webmind, the US government tried but failed to exterminat ***Originally posted to: Bookish Blog Wonder is the final book in Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW Trilogy about Webmind, the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the World Wide Web. It was a fitting and perfectly satisfying ending to the series. Fans will be very pleased with how well Sawyer ties up all the loose ends, making it clear that this was a well thought out and thoroughly researched story. After discovering the existence of Webmind, the US government tried but failed to exterminate him. Now, that Webmind made it very clear that he is devoted to assisting the humanity and helping it thrive rather than sabotaging or harming it, most people came to trust him and they often seek his advice or even virtual companionship. There are, however, those who consider him to be a threat and they won’t rest until they succeed in “killing” the fast learning AI. But is Webmind really a threat? Is it safe to trust him? What will happen next? As with Watch, you can pick up a copy of Wonder and start reading without having to read the previous books in the series and you will have no problem following the plot. It’s written in a way that allows each book in the trilogy to stand on its own. Sawyer smoothly introduces all the important events from the previous books, without detracting from the flow of the story. But of course, reading the series as a whole is strongly recommended. There are plenty of subtleties and nuances to savor which you really don’t want to miss. The dialogues are very natural and often humorous. The storyline is spiked with a whole lot of fascinating scientific information and curiosities that enrich the plot and are served in an easy-to-digest way. Curious what others thought about Wonder, I read quite a few reviews and was surprised to see that many people found this final installment to be not as good as the previous ones, or even disappointing. Frankly, I don’t really understand what their opinions are based on. I was very pleased with the way the story unraveled. I liked the way the plot threads expanded and intertwined with each other. Every piece of the puzzle fell into the right place, creating a complete and unforgettable picture. What pleased me the most, though, was the way Sawyer ended this epic tale about the evolved consciousness of the Internet. I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger, although it had a similar astonishing effect on me. It left me speechless and I found myself pondering the possible outcomes of something similar to Webmind emerging in our world. This book made me think and, well, wonder… And isn’t this exactly what a good story is supposed to do? I loved all the characters in this story, especially Webmind. They’re all vivid and three-dimensional. I found it very easy to get emotionally attached to them, which made following their stories even more enjoyable. I’m so thankful to Sawyer that he didn’t go for creating a dystopian vision of the future in which Webmind turns out to be the worst thing ever happened to mankind. We’ve all seen Matrix, Terminator and Space Odyssey, as well as a hundred other movies/books in which the artificial intelligence eventually turns against the humans and decides to exterminate us. We don’t really need yet another retelling of the same old story, right? And so I’m really glad that this book is so unique and fresh in its take on this subject. Sawyer pained a potentially wonderful future and I often found myself wishing I could live in that era to witness that kind of technological progress. Overall, this was a great read. I had wonderful time devouring all three books in the WWW Trilogy and can’t wait to check out more of Robert’s works. He’s a marvelous writer, well deserving of all the awards he won. I said it before and I will say it again: this is easily one of the best SF series ever!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim Chaplin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. After reading the first two books in the trilogy I wasn’t sure how the story of Webmind and Caitlin Decker who discovered him would finish. I was worried that I might be disappointed by the outcome. Webmind is an artificial intelligence that evolved from the internet. Caitlin Decker is a young girl who was once blind until she was given sight by a device that she calls an EYE pad. The device was originally meant to fix problem with her sight that she had had from birth, giving her vision back in After reading the first two books in the trilogy I wasn’t sure how the story of Webmind and Caitlin Decker who discovered him would finish. I was worried that I might be disappointed by the outcome. Webmind is an artificial intelligence that evolved from the internet. Caitlin Decker is a young girl who was once blind until she was given sight by a device that she calls an EYE pad. The device was originally meant to fix problem with her sight that she had had from birth, giving her vision back in one eye but Caitlin discovers that she can actually see the internet itself. These books ask the question of what would happen if there was a form of artificial intelligence running the internet? The US government security services do their best to shut it down after failing once before to close it down. Colonel Peyton Hume cannot see that Webmind is a force for good and uses all means necessary to eliminate it. China has already raised a firewall once before to cover up the outbreak of a virus and the killings of those infected to control the spread of the virus. They are seeking to make the firewall permanent again but they have a hacker in their midst who has already opened up holes in the firewall. These series of books have some interesting ideas. There are many examples of the benefits of crowd sourcing: people coming together to write open source software, seek help in building new devices from off the shelf electrical parts and scientists sharing ideas. This book seeks to take it further by the idea of people making decisions instead of government. However, sometimes I think that Sawyer is rather too positive about the benefits of technology. Social networks have been growing stronger but can we rely on groups of people making decisions on important subjects that affect us all? E-democracy has been used to seek individual’s opinions in focus groups before but it doesn’t meant that everyone’s voice is heard as their representatives may just be interpreting the results to achieve their own ends. The recent Egyptian revolt in 2010 used social media to challenge the government and has been a positive force for change. On the other hand only those who have access to this technology can participate. Equally popular polls could end in controversial decisions such as capital punishment being re-instituted after years of informed debate and legal precedent outlawing it in most western democracies. What would also happen if an artificial intelligence could find a cure for Cancer and other complex issues through the co-operation of scientists, doctors and experts? This could be a positive thing but I could also see there being a backlash by the multinationals that manufacture and control the supply of drugs and products in a capitalist free market. Software companies would equally be upset if an artificial intelligences started putting 'verified by Webmind' on safe searches instead of their own security software. Robert Sawyer continues to speak about technology subjects across the world and has consulted for companies like Google and Motorola. He has managed to keep my attention over this series of books through the interesting characters he has created and I hope he continues to write more thought provoking future science fiction stories.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    It's readable, there's a strong sense of drive, and Sawyer is a technically proficient writer with some great (even audacious) ideas. But a lot about this book rubbed me the wrong way. The first problem is that not a lot happens, and when it does, it's usually ignored or downplayed or underdeveloped. There's never any sense of danger--if something needs to happen to our characters, it just does. There's no struggle or adversity. There are no stakes. There are a lot of red herrings that suggest a It's readable, there's a strong sense of drive, and Sawyer is a technically proficient writer with some great (even audacious) ideas. But a lot about this book rubbed me the wrong way. The first problem is that not a lot happens, and when it does, it's usually ignored or downplayed or underdeveloped. There's never any sense of danger--if something needs to happen to our characters, it just does. There's no struggle or adversity. There are no stakes. There are a lot of red herrings that suggest a hint of drama or intrigue, but they all just fizzle. Worse, this is the third part in a trilogy. 900 pages total, with about 3-400 pages' worth of actual plot. The cynic in me smells a money-grab, but let's not listen to him. Then there are personal nitpicks. Sawyer is so enamoured of his creation (Webmind) that he doesn't stop to check if his reader is along for the ride. I grew increasingly wary of Webmind as the book went on--his character doesn't change, so that's not a spoiler--but Sawyer spends no time making Webmind feel trustworthy or even that intelligent. Webmind decides (after watching Star Trek II in a previous book) that strict act utilitarianism is a flawless moral philosophy (!). He then goes on to agree that our sense of morality is becoming more "accurate" or sensible over time (!!). Plus Webmind arrives at these conclusions without providing any evidence whatsoever (or even calling it 'utilitarianism'). It's clear Sawyer can't conceive of other, non-Spock-derived approaches to ethics, and didn't bother researching any of the many that exist in the real world. I wouldn't belabour this point, but the majority of the book hinges on this decision, which happens off-screen and with no rational explanation, to support an obviously fraught moral philosophy. If Webmind is so smart, why didn't he forge a new school of philosophy? Or at least adopt the infinitely more preferable negative utilitarianism? Another problem is Caitlin, who used to be the main character. Especially coming off Tomorrow, When The War Began, which featured complex, realistic, breathing teenagers, Caitlin seems like an old white dude's stereotypical impression of a teenager. She says w00t and 'made out of awesome' and has no emotions or moods whatsoever, but plenty of dad jokes. I know teenagers in real life and none of them are like this. This all just breaks my heart because I used to love Sawyer's books. Either I'm outgrowing him, or he's writing the same damn book over and over and I'm getting tired of reading it. Anyway, beyond that, the usual Sawyer problems abound--glib, one-dimensional characters that serve strict utilitarian purposes (ha); as mentioned above, everything happens too easily, with no threat or menace; Sawyer's optimism is too optimistic about optimism itself (i.e. he thinks the path to world peace is pretty easy, when it's not); and his sense of humour makes me cringe as much as his botched philosophy (think a more-erudite, heavily-70s-referencing Big Bang Theory i.e. bad jokes that are made even worse by how outdated they are). There are worse books out there, but I sure as hell can't be bothered finding them.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    Four stars for enjoyable, but don't forget that this is, as others have said, SF Lite. Despite all the modern stuff, there's a Heinlein-juvenile feeling throughout. Written for smart teens? If so, I think it's done well. Don't read this except as the third of three. Plenty of interesting ideas. As is often the case with Sawyer, there are perhaps too many characters who seem to be there so the author can make a point about what they represent. There's a lot of explaining, but a fair bit of it was Four stars for enjoyable, but don't forget that this is, as others have said, SF Lite. Despite all the modern stuff, there's a Heinlein-juvenile feeling throughout. Written for smart teens? If so, I think it's done well. Don't read this except as the third of three. Plenty of interesting ideas. As is often the case with Sawyer, there are perhaps too many characters who seem to be there so the author can make a point about what they represent. There's a lot of explaining, but a fair bit of it was necessary, and again, if you've read Sawyer before you'll expect it. Sawyer's a liberal, and if you're not down with that go read someone else, you won't like him. The multiple plotlines gave the book some dimension, and we didn't have to stretch too far to believe in how they came together. The epilogue (SPOILER ALERT) was disappointing. We are asked to believe that although humans are long gone, the power generators and routers are still humming away and the AIs are still using packet switching to communicate. I'd rather read some good old-fashioned handwaving such as that the AIs decided to collapse the solar system into neutronium to provide power for the clouds of pure intelligence that they have become.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Claire Wheeler

    I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy - I read all three books in four days, so I'm only reviewing this one. "Wake" pulled me in easily with its easygoing prose (Saunders is as readable as King) and its friendly attitude (I kept thinking of Heinlein). It's not literary by any stretch, but it has two things going for it: clever plotting enacted by relatable characters, and enlightening discourse on a wide range of scientific ideas. I was particularly intrigued by Saunders' reflections on the impact of I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy - I read all three books in four days, so I'm only reviewing this one. "Wake" pulled me in easily with its easygoing prose (Saunders is as readable as King) and its friendly attitude (I kept thinking of Heinlein). It's not literary by any stretch, but it has two things going for it: clever plotting enacted by relatable characters, and enlightening discourse on a wide range of scientific ideas. I was particularly intrigued by Saunders' reflections on the impact of evolutionary pressure on the emergence of consciousness and character. This, to me, as a physician and psychologist, is one of the most important questions before us as human beings. It was a deeply gratifying surprise to read these ideas in the context of a brisk, engaging and fun set of novels. Check it out!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chantal Boudreau

    The last in the trilogy, this book brought up the idea of just how much government interference is too much, especially when considering public safety and well-being. Both Caitlin and Webmind strike out against forces that would restrict them, seeking allies, finding their strengths, and exploring their sense of selves, all the while maintaining their symbiotic friendship. While it treaded into some politically sensitive areas more than once, I appreciated the reasonably objective approach Mr. S The last in the trilogy, this book brought up the idea of just how much government interference is too much, especially when considering public safety and well-being. Both Caitlin and Webmind strike out against forces that would restrict them, seeking allies, finding their strengths, and exploring their sense of selves, all the while maintaining their symbiotic friendship. While it treaded into some politically sensitive areas more than once, I appreciated the reasonably objective approach Mr. Sawyer used, and his characterization and complex storyline kept the story fresh and interesting. While I thought a couple of the plot elements were a little over the top as the tale concluded, I felt this was a satisfying ending to the trilogy. Another winner from Mr. Sawyer.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah (Workaday Reads)

    I'm so glad I picked this up and finished the series. I read the first two books a few years ago now, and was surprised at how easy it was to get back into the story. This book picks up immediately after the second one ends, so it's probably easier to read them all back to back, but the series was memorable enough that I caught up quickly. Similar to the earlier books, this one combines education and entertainment very well. This style of writing is the author's specialty, and it always seems to I'm so glad I picked this up and finished the series. I read the first two books a few years ago now, and was surprised at how easy it was to get back into the story. This book picks up immediately after the second one ends, so it's probably easier to read them all back to back, but the series was memorable enough that I caught up quickly. Similar to the earlier books, this one combines education and entertainment very well. This style of writing is the author's specialty, and it always seems to work beautifully. Come for the story, stay for the learning.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gregg Kellogg

    Gripping to the end, although the epilogue was a bit of a let down. For anyone who's been involved with the Web, particularly working on its core technology, this is a must read. The author effectively shows why an AGI needs us, if it is imbued with similar values and motivations, and pr sends a less dystopian futures than others have.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Harald Koch

    The concept remained interesting. But Mr. Sawyer keeps trying to be clever, and it didn't work very well. On top of that, he keeps getting bogged down in annoying technical details that are totally irrelevant, and they just become distracting. A poor finish.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ginn

    Solid ending to a fun tale. Lots of thought-provoking passages, some techie witticisms, and loads of Canada. Apparently this novel was written a few km north of where I sit right now, which is kind of neat.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adwoa Akhu

    This trilogy gives us a positive look at sentient technology while exploring many important concepts, such as prejudice and spirituality. The story is engaging, compelling, and thought-provoking. Well worth the read. I loved all three books!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Ok, I liked this, wondered where it could possibly go with only 30 pages left, but it wound itself up with a very satisfactory ending. If only Webmind would "come to life" so to speak here on earth!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Engler

    Fantastic alternate view an the Big Brother theme - with a benevolent world-arching entity. Loved it and the entire series.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pablos

    Robert J. Sawyer to jeden z moich ulubionych pisarzy SF. Jednak nie potrafię udawać ślepoty, i doskonale zdaję sobie sprawę, że końcówki jego książek (lub całych serii) bywają… specyficznie radosne, pełne nadziei, a w zasadzie to po prostu nierealne. Nie inaczej jest w przypadku długo wyczekiwanego zakończenia trylogii WWW, które ostatecznie zdecydowałem się kupić także w naszym ojczystym języku, mimo pewnych kontrowersji towarzyszących wydaniu tej powieści (ograniczona ilość, cena). Istota nazyw Robert J. Sawyer to jeden z moich ulubionych pisarzy SF. Jednak nie potrafię udawać ślepoty, i doskonale zdaję sobie sprawę, że końcówki jego książek (lub całych serii) bywają… specyficznie radosne, pełne nadziei, a w zasadzie to po prostu nierealne. Nie inaczej jest w przypadku długo wyczekiwanego zakończenia trylogii WWW, które ostatecznie zdecydowałem się kupić także w naszym ojczystym języku, mimo pewnych kontrowersji towarzyszących wydaniu tej powieści (ograniczona ilość, cena). Istota nazywająca siebie Webmindem, czyli powstała w światowej sieci prawdziwa Sztuczna Inteligencja nie dała się pokonać i trwa. Aby uzmysłowić ludziom, że nie stanowi zagrożenia przygotowuje szereg zadziwiających projektów, które mnie osobiście wydawały się jednak zbyt przesadzone. Oto pojawia się twór, który mając do dyspozycji dane stworzone przez ludzi potrafi je zanalizować lepiej, i ot tak, po prostu, oferuje rozwiązania graniczące z cudem? Ale to tylko mój pierwszy problem z fabułą, drugim bowiem jest traktowanie przez autora ludzi jako istot z gruntu dobrych i rozsądnych. O ile można się zgodzić z takim postawieniem sprawy w przypadku tak zwanych „zwykłych ludzi”, ukazanie światowych agencji bezpieczeństwa jako skłonnych do kompromisu, rozważnych, trzeźwo myślących ludzi o analitycznych umysłach to absolutna przesada. W całym cyklu jest tylko jedna osoba aktywnie próbująca zwalczyć SI, i to razi, tak nie funkcjonuje świat. Sawyer chce pokazać nam dobro w nas samych, ale mógł się bardziej postarać, bo to, co prezentuje jest co najmniej naiwne, a momentami wręcz infantylne. Facet wydaje się być bezkrytyczny. Rozumiem powód, jasne, ale literatura oprócz ogromnej dawki idealizmu i nadziei powinna oferować też dobrą akcję, a „Wolność” momentami wygląda tak, jakby Arnold pod postacią T-800, ze strzelbą wymierzoną w moją czaszkę powiedział: „nie stanowię żadnego zagrożenia”, a ja odpowiadam z uśmiechem: „no przecież, trzymasz w ręce parasol”. Na całe szczęście pod historią o przetrwaniu Webmindu zostało poruszonych nieco istotnych tematów, w tym ten o przemocy w sieci. Autor pozwolił sobie zanalizować potrzebę anonimowości w sieci nie atakując jej, i utrzymując, że w pewnych momentach jest niezbędna, że bez anonimowości sieć nie będzie już tym, za co ją kochamy. Zaprezentował jednak także mocne argumenty dla rezygnacji z „bezimienności” na rzecz podpisywania się pełnym imieniem i nazwiskiem, a nawet próbuje czarować pomysłem na weryfikację tożsamości, a wszystko w celu słusznym. Chyba warto sobie ten temat przemyśleć, bowiem pokolenie ludzi oglądających narodziny internetu jest dość odporne, ale ludzie młodzi, z internetem dorastający, reagują zupełnie inaczej, i potrzebuje czegoś, co ich obroni przed całym złem, jakie można tu spotkać. To druga, po „Mindscan” książka Roberta J. Sawyera, do której mam tyle zarzutów. Co nie zmienia faktu, że obiektywnie jest bardzo dobra i szczerze całą trylogię polecam. Nie da się ukryć, że oferuje zupełnie inne przedstawienie Sztucznej Inteligencji niż to dotychczas znane z popkultury. I może warto takie podejście poznać, i samemu przemyśleć, bo czas powstania SI jest coraz bliższy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kaylee

    I have read two whole series by Robert J. Sawyer; the Neanderthal Parallax, and WWW (Wake Watch Wonder). I am leaving the same review for all 6 books, because although the stories are different, the product is always the same: Sawyer's novels are fun, but they are also very preachy. He always starts with a very interesting premise, it's easy to get sucked in, and at first you're too busy enjoying the ride to notice the moralizing very much. But as the series progress, the preachiness gets more an I have read two whole series by Robert J. Sawyer; the Neanderthal Parallax, and WWW (Wake Watch Wonder). I am leaving the same review for all 6 books, because although the stories are different, the product is always the same: Sawyer's novels are fun, but they are also very preachy. He always starts with a very interesting premise, it's easy to get sucked in, and at first you're too busy enjoying the ride to notice the moralizing very much. But as the series progress, the preachiness gets more and more noticeable, and reading becomes less and less enjoyable. I still finished both series because by that point I was invested in wanting to find out how things will turn out, but by book three it had become very tiresome. Although both of these series started out very interesting, I would NOT recommend them, given that they are just a vehicle for the author to push his beliefs and prejudices onto his readers. It especially bugged me because, 1. he is a zealous believer in there being only "one right way", which means that anyone with a differing opinion is automatically shouted down as being "wrong", and 2. the moralizing is VERY blatant, and thus, very annoying. **My two-star rating is for the series as a whole. In actuality, I'd probably give the first book 4 stars, the second book 2.5 stars, and the third book 1.5 stars. But, as with Pringles, once you start, you can't stop until you've finished the whole series. Therefore, I am rating the series as a whole, so that those who are interested in the series know what to expect.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    A triumphal coming of age for Webmind marks the end of the WWW trilogy. I fell in love with Caitlin when I read the first book in the series, nearly 10 years ago, just after the death of my blind mother. The teenager's innocence and wonder at discovering sight for the first time, so often reflected in Webmind's innocence and wonder at discovering a whole new universe, brought me joy and peace. Over the years, a myriad of other books have crept to the top of my TBR pile but always intended to get A triumphal coming of age for Webmind marks the end of the WWW trilogy. I fell in love with Caitlin when I read the first book in the series, nearly 10 years ago, just after the death of my blind mother. The teenager's innocence and wonder at discovering sight for the first time, so often reflected in Webmind's innocence and wonder at discovering a whole new universe, brought me joy and peace. Over the years, a myriad of other books have crept to the top of my TBR pile but always intended to get back to the story. A few years ago, I read the second book and then, over the past few weeks, the final. Sawyer can sometimes be a bit pedantic and preachy as is Webmind at his worst, but they seem to share, at their core, a hopefulness and firm belief that the world can and will be a better place. In a world that is often anything but hopeful, that faith in the innate goodness of man, that, as book mom, Dr. Barbara Decter explains, "there is indeed a moral arrow through time" and it is firmly pointed in the direction of a better us. Wonder is a warm and sometimes funny look at life, coming of age, moral dilemmas, successes and failures and the world we live in. It's not always pretty, and it's often very uncertain, but it's an uplifting read that refreshed my faith in humanity, technology and the world we live in.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mike Smith

    This is the third and final novel in the WWW series, about an emergent artificial intelligence (AI) on the World Wide Web. Webmind, the AI, must protect itself from attempts by the American government to destroy it and attempts by the Chinese government to electronically isolate China from the world and thus slice Webmind in two. Meanwhile, 16-year-old, formerly blind math genius Caitlin, who helped Webmind come into existence, must deal with boys, government agents, and her newfound sight. The s This is the third and final novel in the WWW series, about an emergent artificial intelligence (AI) on the World Wide Web. Webmind, the AI, must protect itself from attempts by the American government to destroy it and attempts by the Chinese government to electronically isolate China from the world and thus slice Webmind in two. Meanwhile, 16-year-old, formerly blind math genius Caitlin, who helped Webmind come into existence, must deal with boys, government agents, and her newfound sight. The story moves briskly and is clearly written. Sawyer covers a variety of topics, including the nature of intelligence, morality, spirituality, and political freedom. Unlike many SF stories about AI, Sawyer's take presents Webmind as a benevolent philosopher-king-style entity who wants to increase net human happiness. It is, perhaps, not sufficiently nuanced to be realistic, particularly in today's world. This is a feel-good novel that suggests that technology will help us solve many of our problems. I found the ending quite moving, but I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. Wonder will make you think a little, feel a little, and hope that we'll figure this all out and avoid a technological apocalypse.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barnesm

    Robert J. Sawyer's WWW Trilogy (Wake, Watch & Wonder) is a fantastic book on the A.I genre. It basically tells the story of a blind girl, Caitlin Decter, who undergoes a surgical procedure to regain sight, but additionally develops an ability to look at the structure of the Internet visually. Then, she discovers an emergent self-aware electronic entity, the A.I Webmind. The series then flips between Webmind's (gradually evolving) inner monologues, and a third-person perspective focusing on C Robert J. Sawyer's WWW Trilogy (Wake, Watch & Wonder) is a fantastic book on the A.I genre. It basically tells the story of a blind girl, Caitlin Decter, who undergoes a surgical procedure to regain sight, but additionally develops an ability to look at the structure of the Internet visually. Then, she discovers an emergent self-aware electronic entity, the A.I Webmind. The series then flips between Webmind's (gradually evolving) inner monologues, and a third-person perspective focusing on Caitlin and her family. The novels are superb, and although some parts sound far-fetched (such as Webmind developing a cure for cancer, by processing data already available on the web, etc.), it's worth reading, in my opinion.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Overall I thought this was a very good trilogy with some interesting ideas in it. Wether or not an AI can help mankind achieve peace and advance I think is one of those ideas that is debatable. It's interesting to imagine, but as much as I'd like to see it happen, I don't see it happening. There are lots of reasons for this, some even talked about in these books. The big one is if such an AI did evolve, people would become fearful an try to kill it. In these books they were not successful, but i Overall I thought this was a very good trilogy with some interesting ideas in it. Wether or not an AI can help mankind achieve peace and advance I think is one of those ideas that is debatable. It's interesting to imagine, but as much as I'd like to see it happen, I don't see it happening. There are lots of reasons for this, some even talked about in these books. The big one is if such an AI did evolve, people would become fearful an try to kill it. In these books they were not successful, but it was a close thing. I can imagine if easily going the other way. But see what you think about it.

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