My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Robert Sawyer’s second installment in his “WWW” trilogy picks up right where “Wake” left off but, thankfully, does not fall prey to middle book syndrome.
If you’ve not read the first installment, there will be SPOILERS ahead for it. Can’t really talk about book two without giving away the end of book one.
“Wake” ended with Caitlin Decker contacting the growing intelligence emerging on the World Wide Web. The second novel explores their growing friendship and the responsibility Caitlin feels to help nurture this new entity into maturity. Caitlin debates whether or not to tell her parents about Webmind and then later helps the intelligence discover a sense of right and wrong. At one point, Webmind watches a live video cast of a suicide, which leads to the discussion. This section of the novel is one of the more compelling and chilling sections of the novel.
Meanwhile, the United States government has noticed the emergence of Webmind and is taking steps to assure it doesn’t become too powerful. Sawyer also weaves in the story of the apes from the first installment and we finally get to see how this separate thread is slowly colliding with the story of Webmind.
As with the first installment, Sawyer continues to open up fascinating, thought provoking areas of science-fiction and their philosophical ramifications. But he never loses track of his characters, keeping them interesting and growing over the course of the story.
And the novel is one that passes by far too quickly, leaving me eager for the final installment next year.