“WWW: Wonder” by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace, 2011)

Wonder
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In Wonder, award winner Robert J. Sawyer’s thrilling conclusion to his WWW trilogy, after Wake and Watch, he takes the evolved consciousness of the Internet, known as Webmind, to a whole new level.  After almost being destroyed by the US agency WATCH, Webmind is now released to the world by its discoverer, Caitlin Dector, a teenager, who goes on TV to broadcast the existence of this animate consciousness.  Word spreads lightning fast on the Internet, and Webmind is soon communicating with millions of people around the world, simultaneously, learning much and helping those it can.  In a short while it has discovered a possible cure for cancer, but Webmind’s goal is some form of world peace and to bring joy to humanity.  Meanwhile Colonel Peyton Hume, the Pentagon’s top expert on artificial intelligence, thinks Webmind isn’t what it says it is; that its intentions aren’t for the improvement of human kind, but for personal gain; with the power it has it could take over the world, or worse.

In Wonder, Sawyer brings his separate storylines – Caitlin the blind girl, Hobo the ape, and Communist China – all together in a page-turning finish, going beyond the basic story and questioning philosophical ideas and scientific theories and what they mean for humanity and the future.  While Sawyer may be letting his own ideology show itself here, it is no doubt one that is subscribed to by many readers, who will enjoy seeing some of these ideas come to fruition in this possible world.  And isn’t that one of the reasons for the existence of science fiction?

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on March 6, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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Robert J. Sawyer Interview Coming Soon to a BookBanter Near You

Due to scheduling issues, didn’t have time to get the interview with Robert J. Sawyer up on BookBanter today, but will be working on it over the weekend and will have it up by Monday in time for the release of the final book in the WWW trilogy on Tuesday, Wonder.  There will be plenty of notification once it’s up.

Thanks for your patience.

An Interview with Robert J. Sawyer (April, 2011)

An Interview with Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer has won just about every award there is in the genre of science fiction. He is the author of the novel Flashforward, which the TV series was based on, and has just completed his WWW trilogy with Wonder. Robert was first interviewed on BookBanter on July 11, 2009 shortly after the release of Wake. 

Alex C. Telander: It’s been almost two years since our last interview.  What would you say has changed most with you as a person?

Robert J. Sawyer: Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m more relaxed.  Publishing is in an awful state, but I made a lot of money off of the FlashForward TV series, and that’s given me quite a cushion.  So I’m a little more zen than I was about the future.

Alex: Would you say anything has changed in your writing?

Robert: Through my work on the FlashForward TV series, I’ve become much more interested in the thriller genre.  People had called my books thrillers before, and, indeed, WWW: Wake hit number 1 on the Amazon.com thriller bestsellers list, but I’ve been much more attentive to how you structure such things and the conventions of that genre while I’ve been writing my current novel, Triggers.

Alex: With the last book of your WWW trilogy, Wonder, just out, what have you learned most in this long project?

Robert: That taking six years to do a series is really hard when writing about a technological area.  When I started writing this series, no one had heard of the iPhone let alone the iPad, neither the Kindle nor the Wii existed, Facebook had just begun and Twitter didn’t yet exist; the world is changing awfully fast.

Alex: What do you now hope readers get from reading the entire trilogy?

Robert: A positive, upbeat view of the future of humanity in relationship to superintelligent machines.  The emergence of such superintelligence is inevitable, but science fiction has given us nothing but negative visions; I wanted to offer a corrective for that.

Alex: You created such an interesting character in Caitlin Decter. Do you think readers will ever see her again?

Robert: Nope; I’ve now told Caitlin’s story — Wonder is the conclusion.  I firmly believe that certain characters are right for certain books, but that it’s a mistake for writers to try to shoehorn them into future projects just to cash in on the character’s popularity.

Alex: Any movie deals in the works for the WWW trilogy?

Robert: We are listening to interesting offers and pitches from various parties, but haven’t consummated a deal yet.

Alex:What did you learn from working on the Flash Forward TV series?

Robert: That I loved working on TV!

Alex: Do you plan to do more screenwriting in the future?

Robert: Absolutely.  Not only is it great fun, it’s very lucrative; six cents a word is a good rate for short fiction; six dollars a word is what the union minimum works out to for scripwriting.

Alex: Can you talk about what fans can look forward to with your next book?

Robert: It’s a novel about the scientific nature of memory, something that I’ve rarely seen dealt with well in fiction; it’s also, as I said above, a thriller.

Alex: How do story ideas tend to germinate for you?

Robert: From reading science nonfiction:  the breakthroughs that are happening daily in science provide endless fodder.

Alex: You’ve been outspoken about your enjoyment of ebooks and audiobooks.  Do you believe in the future the printed word will cease to exist, and how soon do you think?

Robert: Nothing ceases to exist:  movies didn’t replace live theatre; television didn’t replace radio; of course print will always exist.

Alex: What do you predict to be the most impressive inventions in the next fifty years?

Robert: Radical human life prolongation.  I might not live to be 150, but my young nieces probably will.

Alex:  What is your favorite food to eat?

Robert: Pizza — which is probably the very reason I’m not going to live to be 150.

02/15 On the Bookshelf . . . “Serpent’s Storm” & “WWW: Wonder”

Serpent's Storm Wonder

Ahh, the next two sagas in two series.  We have the next installment of the entertaining Calliope Reaper-Jones series, after Death’s Daughter and Cat’s Claw by Amber Benson.  And the conclusion of the fantastic WWW trilogy from Robert J. Sawyer, after Wake and Watch.

“WWW: Watch” by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace, 2010)

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After the success of Wake, Hugo Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer returns with the second in the WWW trilogy, Watch.  Caitlin Decter is still trying to wrap her mind around her new power; having spent the first sixteen years of her life blind, she is now able to see in one eye.  The world is a beautiful place, with incredible looking things to see, as well as fascinating people, not to mention her interesting friends and family who she can now see, as well as learning how to do so many ordinary things with sight for the first time.

Then there is Webmind, the sentient being that has arisen from the depths of the Internet and is becoming more conscious, aware and brilliant by the second.  Caitlin does everything she can to keep Webmind entertained and fulfilled, employing the help of her parents, as well as the doctor who gave her her sight.  But the secret military group known as WATCH has discovered the existence of Webmind and after conferring with the highest levels of the government, they’ve deemed this presence a threat to national and international security and are going to try to kill it.  Caitlin is left with just one choice: announce the existence of Webmind to the people of the world.

Sawyer continues the great storytelling from Wake, discussing the concepts of game theory, and what a sentient presence on the Internet could really mean for the world in his comfortable, conversational way.  The only failing of this book is that it leaves the reader immediately wanting the conclusion to the trilogy, Wonder.  Fans will have to wait one more year for the thrilling end to this great trilogy.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on May 3 2010 ©Alex C. Telander

04/09 on the Bookshelf . . . “Watch” & “Under Heaven”

Watch Under Heaven

Received two delightful deliveries this morning; two books with two beautiful covers:

The sequel to the fantastic Wake, Watch by Robert J. Sawyer, the second in the trilogy.  I enjoyed Wake very much, and after interviewing Robert J. Sawyer, I’m looking forward to Watch.

It’s been some time since bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay’s last novel, Ysabel, but fortunately on April 27th, Under Heaven, his new novel of medieval China will be published.  And you can hear what he has to say about it in this interview.

Very much looking forward to reviewing both of these.  Tis a good month for publishing!

“By Blood We Live” Edited by John Joseph Adams (Night Shade Books, 2009)

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Vampires and zombies continue to be incredibly popular, and after editing a collection of zombie stories in Living Dead, John Joseph Adams now turns to the tale of the vampire in By Blood We Live.  Featuring stories from Stephen King to Neil Gaiman to Kelley Armstrong to Jane Yolen; after reading this book you’ll either be sick of the blood-sucking fiends or be stocking up on garlic and crosses.

The collection kicks off with Neil Gaiman’s twisted tale of Snow White moving on to the only short story Anne Rice has published, “The Master of Rampling Gate.”  The book features thirty-six vampire stories including writers like Robert J. Sawyer, Garth Nix, and Eric Van Lustbader: writer’s you wouldn’t expect to be in this collection.  It runs the gamut from the terrifying to the romantic to the steamy to the outlandish to the science fiction type.  One of the most disturbing stories is from Harry Turtledove, “Under St. Peter’s,” as a newly elected pope must perform a sacred ritual under the gaze of an unknown order, where they travel deep beneath the Vatican and find a man waiting there, a man who has been there for a very long time, a man we all know very well . . . and he’s hungry for blood.

While overall readers may realize that there are only so many ways to tell a vampire story and that some featured in this collection may seem similar and somewhat mundane, By Blood We Live gives readers a chance to get their fill on these denizens of the night, as well as discovering a number of new authors they may never have planned to read.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on December 21st, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.