Sunday, May 3, 2020

WWW: Wake (WWW, #1)WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been a while since a book brought me to tears. It's been a while since a book brought me to tears out of joy and optimism.

This one did. It wasn't earth-shattering, but it was absolutely joyous.

Why?

Well, the main reason is that I absolutely love stories of emergent AIs. And when Sawyer applies a lot of very well-researched speculations based on only the technology we have now, building a beautiful picture of waking up from first principles?

I have nothing but respect for this.

And yet, this is hardly the only thing this book is good at. The main story is gorgeous as well. Young Caitlin has grown up blind but thanks to some equally interesting sight-restoring techniques, she discovers she can see the World Wide Web as colorful geometry.

Between her own life and discoveries, some very nice parallels with the overall story-structure with a team of scientists and a half-Bonobo monkey and a quasi-revolutionary hacker on the other side of China's Firewall, we've got a huge, beautiful setup and the first very careful steps of a new consciousness.

I can't stress how well this was accomplished. This isn't a fly-by-night story with the same elements but with a tenth the research, care, or intelligence. This is a direct commentary on our current science and it actually gave me a sense of real wonder. Awe.

It also helps that it accurately describes just about all its foundations in not just a clear way, but in an ACCURATE way. :)

But what did I love most?

Okay. I'm weird. I loved the Shannon Entropy Function. I want someone to run a plot on me, please. :)


Let me sum up something:

This book ought to be well-known. It ought to be discussed and enjoyed and in the common zeitgeist of modern SF. It isn't a throwaway title meant to pass an afternoon away. It's a complex and stand-up commentary on what we could all BE, in all the best ways that SF can function.

Of course, if I might get to the point sooner, I should refer back to my first statement. The book made me cry from joy. It OUGHT to be enough to encourage anyone to read it. :)

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