Sci-fi/Fantasy geek :)
I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, so this book (and the entire series actually) was a pure joy to read. It wasn't all sunshine and roses, but there were enough of each to stock a small nursery. There is a sense of hope in this book that is missing from many (if not most) sci-fi writing. Yes, I usually prefer more gritty reading, but it is nice sometimes to sit outside in the warn sunshine in a loose-fitting shirt and shorts, sip a lemonade, and read with a smile on your face.
The writing is smart and technically plausible (which for a tech person like me is always enjoyable). I even got to use some of this book to explain "network packets" to a client of mine :) The pace moves well and has a good enough mixture of action and prose, which is important for those of us with a short attention span.
The characters are planted in shallow soil, but not entirely transparent, and interesting at least. I actually learned a bit (and thought quite a bit more) about what it might be like to be a blind person, especially a blind person using a computer. I also remembered what it was like to be a teenager again, probably the reason I am still drawn to so-called YA books. But, I think if you can't enjoy an occasional lighter read, then maybe you need to lighten up just a bit.
The narration is second-to-none! How can you complain about a full cast of talent like this? You can't! I'd love to have more audio books done this way as it lends much more credibility to the entire affair (listening to some male narrators squeak out a female voice reminds you that you are listening to someone read a book instead of losing yourself in the story).
I have an Audible 2-book per month membership and actually went out of my way to purchase the 3rd book in this series before the end of the month, a rare occurrence for me. That should tell you all you need to know!
Best-novel Hugo and Nebula Award-winning science-fiction writer. Audie Award winner for CALCULATING GOD. Author of FLASHFORWARD and 20 more.
On the premise of WAKE and the science behind it:
(1) see the article in the May 2, 2009, New Scientist entitled "Could the net become self-aware?" (also online at their website), which quotes among others Ben Goertzel, who is in the acknowledgments of WAKE;
(2) one might also find edifying the nonfiction book "The Web's Awake: An Introduction to the Field of Web Science and the Concept of Web Life" by Philip D. Tetlow, from IEEE Press;
(3) check out the acknowledgments in the printed version of WAKE for the list of experts who consulted on and/or reviewed my manuscript, including top people from Google, Sun Microsystems, and IBM (acknowledgments also online on my website);
(4) check out the June 2009 issue of the "Communications of the ACM" (publication of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest educational and scientific computing society), in which I have a commissioned piece on the science behind WAKE;
(5) visit my website soon for the podcast of the invited talk entitled "Webmind: When the Web Wakes Up" I gave about the science behind WAKE on May 6, 2009, at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania;
(6) have a look at my editorial on robotics/AI in the November 16, 2007, issue of SCIENCE, the world's leading science journal; and
(7) be cognizant of the fact that prior to book publication, WAKE was serialized in ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT, the top-selling English-language SF magazine, and the world's leading hard-SF publication, a place where stories not firmly grounded in accurate science simply don't get published. -- Robert J. Sawyer
Intelligent, well thought out story. Leaves you thinking. The narration and production are superb. Greatly anticipating the sequel.
Way to go Audible!
I thought the premise of the story was fascinating but the book ended up being one long introduction without much of a plot. Near the end of the book, I understood why the separate stories in China and with the apes were brought up, but it was such a long road to get to minor points in the book. All in all, this book felt like one very long, tedious introduction. Although the performances were good, it did not save the story. I would guess (hope) that the next two books have more of a plot and storyline, but I'm just not willing to spend my money or time on them.
I have to say that Robert J. Sawyer is my favorite author ever since I have found his very first book "Calculating God" on audible. This book is the best I have had the pleasure to listen to by far. The technical aspect of it can be a bit overwhelming but the complex charachters and the story is amazing. I can not wait for the next one!
I normally do not read stories where the main character is a 16 year old girl. It's to hard for a 45 year old man to connect. I was delightfully surprised at how well the main character was written and found myself pulled into her struggle to acquire sight. Even though I know it is just fantasy, I can believe that someday someone may find what she did and wouldn't that be a surpirse for the rest of us.
All I can say is good job! What a Story!
I loved it! It was one of the best reads (or listens) in quite some time! This is an intelligent, engaging story and I could not put it down. If you like smart stories that make you think...this one's for you.
I love to read and since 2011 I have been mostly listening to audiobooks because oftentimes there is nothing like a good narrator.
SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW! WARNING! I'm writing this for parents who want to get this for their pre-teen and teen children.
The story of WebMind was great. The characters were well thought out but in some cases sterotypical. The kid who tries to take advantage of Kaitlyn and then bullies Matt is one such case.
That said, the story revolving around WebMind is fantastic and extraordinary. I also enjoyed Hobo the chimp/benobo although his making a choice not to be violent was too far fetched for me, at least in this story.
Now on to the elephant in the room. Regardless of what a perfect world is or how the characters think it should be; parents encouraging their 16 year old daughter to first sext her bare breasts to her new boyfriend and then just days after first kissing a boy (not just this boy, any boy) they let their daughter her have sex with him, is not the mindset I want to instill in the world I live in.
The mother finding the sexting bare breast picture on her daughter's phone and sees the sext she sent to her boyfriend but when she shows the father, he is not only not upset, but he tells her there is nothing wrong with it. That is crazy in my book, sorry for the pun. Sure, they didn't tell her directly "Hey Kaitlyn, sexting is fine and by the way, having sex is great and we think you should have it now too" but their actions (and lack of action) spell it out very clearly. They knew full well that their daughter who was born blind and had just gained sight, had her very first kiss and sent naked pictures of herself to said boy. They also knew that just days after gaining sight, etc. she was going to have sex. They accepted it as a forgone conclusion.
I think the sexting and Kaitlyn losing her virginity added nothing to the overall story other than an irresponsible influence on many pre-teen and teen children who will read this book. I don't think books should be censored or banned. I read many, many books per year, sometimes two or more per week and I run across many situations like this but this one is different in that it is a book specifically geared for young girls. I don't know how to handle it other than by writing this review.
The above is why I dropped 2 full stars from the overall and 3 from the story, If those two situations were handled differently I would have given this book a full 5 star review. It was that good. It is not something I normally read but someone recommended the first book and I was pulled in. :)
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
A blind teemager has her vision restored, a monkey learns to paint portraits, the Chinese president does some nefarious megalomaniacal Chinese president stuff, and the internet comes to life in time to send the formerly blind girl birthday wishes in Robert Sawyer's Wake, the first installment in his WWW trilogy.
What Sawyer does best here, as he does in his other books, is to choose a theme (or two), research it pretty well, and present a technically satisfying fictional portrait of that theme (or two). In WWW, the main theme is consciousness -- how it may have developed in humans during earlier stages of evolution, how it could morph within an intelligent modern day human when her primary senses are altered, how it might develop in non-human entities such as lower primates and (artificially) in machines.
Where Sawyer stumbles is in plot and character development. The operative weaknesses are a) it all unfolds too slowly, no doubt a function of originally being published in serialized form, as well as being stretched out into a trilogy, and b) it is all too familiar, too stock, despite taking so much extra time to work it all out. The confluence of those two factors is that there is too much time spent explaining the technicalities behind the plot and themes (although, as I said previously, those technicalities become the saving grace).
I realize that seems contradictory -- what I like best about the book is, so I claim, fluff that detracts from plot and character development. To get five stars and a rave review from me, Sawyer would have had to come up with a better story and more complex characters while retaining the great background material. Perhaps that happens later in the trilogy. I'm not sure yet whether I will take the time to find that out for myself.