And I mean that. I waited, book by book, to finish his last SF trilogy, a what-if concept that explored both the human and the humane — via the unhuman: What if we opened a doorway onto an alternate 21st-century Earth where the dominant race was the Neanderthal?
His latest trilogy poses another, more idée du jour: What if the aggregated accumulation of knowledge within the World Wide Web created a conscious intelligence?
The WWW is the father; the child is Webmind, the first artificial intelligence; and the unknowing mother is a sixteen year old blind girl with an experimental visual device — a device that opens a window, for both she and Webmind, onto the real, wide world.
The trilogy consists of WWW: Wake, WWW: Watch, and the latest, WWW:Wonder. It’s a story of growth — sight and insight — for both child and mind. As Webmind wakes to see the world it lives in, so does Caitlin Decter. They see. They discover love, relationships, knowledge, deceit, politics . . . and, most importantly, how to survive and still be true to yourself, and be true and good to the wide world.
Our popular culture has been subjected for too long with the stereotypes of mad scientists, deadly robots, omnipotent computers and technological dystopias. Sure, they’re fun — but, personally, I think it’s time to turn the page and start exploring where we should go, instead of concentrating on the fears of exploration and science. Sawyer’s WWW trilogy is a beautiful exploration of the meaning of truth and knowledge in a contemporary world where distrust and hatred are the norm.
I haven’t even mentioned the character that steals the trilogy: Hobo, an ape who has learned sign language, and is Webmind’s simian avatar in human society.
Coming to know Hobo is worth the price of the books. He’s more human — and more interesting and charming — than most of the human characters, which also makes me wonder: is this Sawyer’s unconscious nod to Cornelius and Zira of Planet of the Apes?
Buy the books here.