“Wonder” concludes Robert Sawyer’s trilogy about the emergence of a net-based artificial intelligence called WebMind.
“Wake”, “Watch” and “Wonder” are really three volumes of single book. The action of the book takes place over a few weeks and moves continuously from one volume to the next.
Like the preceding volumes “Wonder” is charming, heart-warming and crammed with inside jokes and references to both Science Fiction and life in Canada, where most of the novel is set.
There is enough of a plot here to keep you turning the pages but the author’s intent is not to thrill but, as the title suggests, to make you wonder: about whether human society becomes more moral over time, about the nature of consciousness and sentience, about the instinct for violence and the impulse for altruism, about people’s perceived need for a God, about atheism as a wide-spread belief but which those people who need a God can perceive as a form of Asperger’s and most of all about choosing peace and freedom over violence and domination.
If these things light up your imagination you will enjoy this book. If you’re looking for a high body count and high-tech conflict, pick up something else.
On the whole the book is successful. There are just enough surprises to keep the plot interesting. Young Caitlin Decter develops into a woman any of us could love and who embodies our best hopes for the current generation. The humour works and the contemporary references are deft and accurate.
From time to time, the speeches given by WebMind are a little long, but then, he is very young and perhaps we can forgive him for that.
For me, the optimism required to accept WebMind’s solution for mankind went a step too far. It would be nice but… perhaps I’m just too old and jaded to be open to those possibilities.
I would also have preferred not to have the epilogue. The rest of the story is in a tight timeline that we can all relate to. The epilogue takes place a billion years later. That’s too big a number for my imagination to cope with.
I recommend all three books to Sci Fi fans everywhere. I suggest you buy all three and read them without a break. I guarantee you will laugh, cry and even wonder a little. Who can ask for more than that?