Author: Robert J Sawyer
Release Date: May 2010
Reviewed by: Mark Chitty
Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
The Web is alive! The new SF thriller from the author of FLASHFORWARD.
Caitlin Decter could never have anticipated what was coming when she first sensed a strange presence on the internet
Webmind is an emerging consciousness that has befriended blind mathematics genius Caitlin Decter and has grown eager to learn about her world.
But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH - the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States-and they're fully aware of Caitlin's involvement in its awakening.
WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion-and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend.
I read Wake earlier this year and quite enjoyed it, despite that fact that it was mostly a set-up for the larger story of an AI coming into existence on the web. Watch is the second book in the trilogy and I was expecting bigger and better things from it, some of which it delivered, but it still left me a little wanting.
Once again the main focus of the story is that of Caitlin Decter and Webmind, how the two communicate and how Webmind is growing as a being. From the early chapters when WATCH discover something is going on on the web and set about planning to deal with it, to Webmind deciding to go public and reveal itself to the world, Watch is quite an interesting story that manages to once again take a realistic look at what the reaction to such a revelation could be. I particularly liked the way Webmind was discovering human behaviour and learning how to interact with other humans, when to step in to stop events, and how to respect the privacy of everyone whose information it has access to. Removing all spam mail from the internet is another little note that I liked, both for the power it shows Webmind wields, and for the effect it has on humanity's views on it.
Of course, with Webmind growing so much I was expecting something a little more... epic? Given the title of the third novel is Wonder I fully expect my doubts and reservations to be put to rest, but I'm also very intrigued as to how Sawyer will tie everything up in the end.