Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Wake Wake
by Robert J. Sawyer

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

Wake, by Robert J Sawyer, is the first volume in a trilogy about internet sentience and human sentience and their mutual discovery. Wake is also the author’s twentieth or so novel.

For me Wake was a parson’s egg of a novel – good in parts, but not satisfying as a whole. The story centres round the birth, within the internet of a non-organic sentience and its relationship with human sentience in the form of Caitlin Decter, a teenage girl learning to see by way of a cutting edge neural implant.

The story is developed by way of chapters dealing with Caitlin and her struggles to see, and vignettes that background the birth of the internet sentience and what shaped its development. For reasons I was unable to fathom, I cared more about the people populating the vignettes than I did about the main storyline. Unfortunately, these scenes went only so far and then stopped. I found Caitlin’s world tedious and flat, whereas there was an excitement and movement in the vignettes missing from Caitlin’s world – and the internet sentience’s perspective was even less entertaining.

I found the lack of engagement with the main story rather a pity as this was a story I wanted to enjoy, especially as the next volume, Watch, is now available. However, on reflection I have yet to read a novel about the birth of internet sentience that I have enjoyed so for me this represents the high point of that particular sub-genre so far: good but not great.

I also should point out that Wake was a 2010 Hugo award finalist, which means a lot of other readers held a view contrary to mine and rated this book as worthy of the serious science fiction fans' highest accolade; so mine may be a minority opinion.

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