Crazy Hugo Project: WWW.Wake

Little Kitty wonders if she can attain a sentient full time cat scritcher by recursively referring to the book.

Book four of my Crazy Hugo Project; WWW.Wake (Robert J. Sawyer) was finished yesterday whilst lazing in the comfort of my air conditioned room (after coming back from a comfortable reading stint at the Brew Pub. I’m doing a lot of reading these days to keep on target!). The story is mostly about Caitlin, blind since birth and newly moved to Canada where she is attending a mainstream high school, and her discovery of…something on the web. Early on she is contacted by a Japanese scientists who thinks he can cure her blindness, or at least he has an implant that will correct the abnormal signals her optic nerve gives her brain. It’s up to Caitlin’s brain to reinterpret the new signals once the procedure is done. This her brain does…sort of but instead of everyday vision, Caitlin sees the web. She also sees little web irregularities that seem to have a purposeful order to them such that she suspects she might have discovered some sort of entity lurking in cyberspace.

There are also two other stories woven through the Caitlin/web entity stories: One about China and one about a crossbred chimp who paints. The China story, I’m fairly certain, is strictly a catalyst to introduce the web entity but it ends in media res. The chimp story also ends on a cliffhanger while the main story finishes at an appropriate place but very well could continue in another book. Which…hey! There are three books planned for this series (book two WWW.Watch already out on the shelves). I rather prefer the stand alone nature of Boneshaker, The City & the City and yes…even Palimpsest to Wake‘s…quasi propped up alone quality. In an edgier book this ending would have worked well as a stand alone, although I think the chimp story would have to be resolved because I’m fairly certain he is paralleling that with the Web entity/Caitlin story. Depending on how that went, a stand alone Wake could go really dark or enthusiastically optimistic. But that’s all moot since we have more story in the following Watch.

All in all, I did like the read. This is the first of the novel nominees that has had an ‘old school sci-fi’ feel to it. The setting is either present day with cutting edge technology or super near future but the idea of a web entity bootstrapping itself to sentience is pretty core sci-fi. In my person list of books that I have read, I’d place Wake below The City & the City (and keep Boneshaker at the number one spot) because I think The City & the City, despite the issues I had with it, is a much better written story. Unfortunately, The City & the City has very little Sci-Fi and isn’t exactly fantasy either so in the contention for Hugoness, I’m putting Wake arguably ahead of The City & the City (which is closely ranked at 2.5).

Incidentally, I discovered an occurrence of the word “palimpsest” in Wake, as well as in Palimpsest and “Palimpsest” (novella by Charles Stross) and when we did a word search, it turned up in The City & the City too! I’d never heard of the word before this Crazy Hugo Project (although I knew the definition previously – it’s nice to have something shorter to say than “putting stuff over stuff, like when they used to hide paintings or scrape off manuscripts and reuse the parchment”) and now, palimpsest is everywhere. 2010: Year of the palimpsest!


1. Boneshaker.
2. Wake.
2.5. The City & The City.
4. ?
5. ?
6. Palimpsest

2009: Too busy reading to update.

2008: I’m not sure which is more distressing: Headless Norberts or half a headless Norbert.

2007: I’d like to not have to eat TheMan’s face but 67 Boingo tunes? That’s pushing it.

2006: Nobody guest blogging here at the booniverse.

2005: So we responded like any rational person and told the worker fella that we were sweeping the dirt out of our truck.

2004: Quiet as a mouse here.

2003: I have what I officially dub as “weenie hair”

One Response to “Crazy Hugo Project: WWW.Wake”

  1. TeacherPatti Says:

    I may have to read this… 🙂

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