Review: WWW: Wonder

Posted: March 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

WWW: Wonder
WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wonder caps off Robert Sawyer’s trilogy about Webmind, a non-human intelligence that emerges spontaneously from the internet.

Sawyer has a list of plaudits longer than an orang utan’s arm, but it’s hard to see why from this novel. Wonder reads like a so-so episode of a slightly above average SF TV show – slickly executed, but with its high SF and intriguing real-world info crassly juxtaposed with supporting character “arcs” that reek of “Geek Power” wish-fulfilment – teen sexual awakenings, the challenges of autism, the power of genial hackers. This is a world where people can be talked out of their deeply held convictions with reasoned argument, and bullies defeated with tech.

When we’re peeking into Webmind’s motivations it’s excellent stuff. Sawyer has a Michael Crichton-esque gift for near-future tech speculation, but the sideshow soap opera has you thinking constantly of Knight Rider, ALF or, worse yet, Metal Mickey.

Furthermore, there’s a thick strand of contradictory North American liberal thought throughout, where personal freedom is paramount, but can only be realised under Webmind’s enlightened despotism. This is at its most noisome when Webmind overthrows the government of China. If we were Webmind, we’d start our revolution closer to home…

Sawyer has a habit of dropping in chirpy sub-clauses into his sentences – like this one! – which add an air of amateurishness to his otherwise solid authorship, while an unlikely five-billion-year-hence coda undoes what little magic’s left. Disappointing.

View all my reviews

  1. tsuhelm says:

    Oh shucks someone stole my idea….

    OK I will share…a French AI becomes MMO addicted, falls out with developer of MMO and begins to update and then redesign MMO…era of the great MMO wars starts…society is rocked when AI forces society to join in… world order crumbles almost instantly…

    AMI – Artificial massive intelligence (French ‘friend’)

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