25 May 2011

Writing on Reading: The WWW Trilogy

Robert J. Sawyer's WWW trilogy, consisting of WWW:Wake, WWW:Watch, and WWW:Wonder, is his best work to date (and that's saying something). Of course, Sawyer is best known for his novel FlashForward which was the basis for the ABC TV series.

About WWW:Wake, Sawyer says, Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math — and blind. ...When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation. ...Once the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something — some other — lurking in the background. And it's getting smarter ...

As you can see, the plotting here is very compelling. Sawyer also does an amazing job with characterization. In addition to the lovable protagonist Caitlin, there's a cast of empathetic and unique characters including the A.I. Webmind, Caitlin's autistic father Malcolm Decter, a chimpanzee bonobo hybrid Hobo, and many others.

Besides, excellent plotting and characterization, Sawyer fills the trilogy with fascinating "big ideas", such as the nature of consciousness, a 'flight versus sight' paradigm shift in human culture, the moral arrow through time and many others. To make a long review short: I strongly recommend this trilogy.

I'm also excited to announce I recently interviewed Mr. Sawyer for the May 31, 2011 issue of ElectricSpec and he was fascinating. Stay tuned for more information!

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