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Watch (WWW Trilogy, Book 2) [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert J. Sawyer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 29 2011

Blind from birth, Caitlin Decter received the gift of sight with the aid of a signal-processing retinal implant. The technology also gave her an unexpected side effect—the ability to “see” the digital data streams of the World Wide Web. And within the Web she perceived an extraordinary presence, and woke it up.

It calls itself Webmind. It is an emerging consciousness that has befriended Caitlin and grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of Watch—the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States whether foreign, domestic, or online—and they're fully aware of Caitlin's involvement in its awakening.

Watch is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion—and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend…


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Watch (WWW Trilogy, Book 2) + Wonder + Wake
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Review

“[Sawyer is] a brilliant thinker pondering some of the most fundamental questions we face today … a complex and fascinating book … Sawyer maintains the same high-level interplay of ideas and action that characterizes all his work, and even readers who haven’t read the first volume will be satisfied. I can’t imagine how he’s going to complete the trilogy, but I do know it will involve a wildly creative combination of cutting-edge science from multiple disciplines.” - Michael Basilières, National Post

“Sawyer shows his genius in combining cutting-edge scientific theories and technological developments with real human characters…. Sawyer is a master at research, and uses his novels to inform and educate as well as to entertain. His works are both revelatory and thought-provoking…. Watch is as fine a novel as we have come to expect from Sawyer, with a blend of human values and technological foresight.” - The Globe and Mail

“Watch is the second of three volumes in brilliant Canadian science-fiction novelist Robert J. Sawyer’s trilogy…. [I]t’s engaging…. He can write about the most sophisticated science while giving readers the room to understand what’s happening and follow the plot.” - Winnipeg Free Press

“This page-turning thriller by the author of Flashforward and the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy is a top-notch choice for sf fans.” - Library Journal

“Watch is a damn fine story. Sawyer spins and weaves a world so comfortable and close, you forget that it’s fiction. The humorous dialogue, the gleeful pop culture references and the Canadian cultural touchpoints expose Sawyer as a writer who loves to have fun with ideas and to eagerly share them with his readers. Watch is set in today’s Canada where, yes damn it, cool things can happen.” - FFWD

“Over the course of the two novels thus far, Sawyer has presented an interesting perspective of artificial intelligence and, perhaps, a 21st Century revisionist view of a cyberpunk story. The novel has the fresh feel of something that could happen in the very near future.” - SFF World

“There’s something about Robert J. Sawyer’s novels that strike a pleasing science fictional chord. They encompass all the things I like about science fiction, like cool ‘What if?’ extrapolations, portrayal of technology that leads to thought-provoking ideas, strong characters and engrossing plots. Watch, the second novel in his WWW trilogy after Wake, is no exception.… Watch is a helluva fun read and an excellent science fiction book.” - SF Signal

“One of the best things about Robert J. Sawyer is the way he references pop sci-fi culture; every book contains at least one reference to Star Trek. But in this novel, second in a trilogy about the singularity—the artificial-intelligence consciousness that is predicted to arise from the Internet—he gets to reference his own sci-fi TV creation, the ABC program FlashForward. It’s fun, but even better is the intelligent and compassionate approach this series is taking to the nature of consciousness.” - Sacramento News & Reviews

“There’s no middle book syndrome here; Robert J. Sawyer packs as much thought and development into this volume as he did into the first, turning out a compelling, thought-provoking entry in one of his best series to date. He’s one of those few writers who can be equally at home dealing with characters’ personal lives and tackling the hard science in an accessible way…. It’s optimistic, intelligent, and I can’t wait for the third in the series.” - SF Site

“Some thriller writers get you worried about the future. Sawyer makes the present perilous.” - Linwood Barclay, bestselling author of Too Close to Home

About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer was born in Ottawa and lives in Mississauga with his wife, poet Carolyn Clink. He has won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel. The ABC TV series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Feb. 2 2012
Format:Hardcover
The WWW series was interesting. What first caught my eye was the cover of Wake. Something told me I just wanted that book. I hadn't read a book in nearly ten year, but Wake was so interesting, I had to keep reading. Watch was better than Wake, but you had to read Wake in order to understand what's going on. The final book, Wonder, probably should have been left out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
It often seems that there is nothing new in the world of Sci-Fi. Certainly the basic plot elements in the' www:' series (Wake, Watch...#3 in 2011) have been around forever. But Sawyer simply does it BETTER than just about any Grand Master in the annals of SF. The classic Artificial Intelligence scenario is brought firmly into the 21st century with Sawyer's profound grasp of the latest technology, philosophy,physiology,sociology, mathematics, ethics, and a host of other aspects of human knowledge, wisdom and nonsense. I have one minor quibble (the only one in all his works): having a 16 year old girl with very limited life experience explain complex ethical issues to a vast AI seems a bit odd, even if her IQ is 200. but it is VERY minor. As always, his character's seem real enough to touch (holodeck anyone?) and he brings his own brilliant plot twists to the classic themes. Hopefully Sawyer will be around long enough that we can keep his brain alive until at least 3000.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story moves along ... June 6 2010
Format:Hardcover
Watch is the second book in the WWW trilogy and really sets the pace for the third book. Robert J. Sawyer answered some questions from the first book, introduced new ones and moves the whole story into a more intense plot. I look forward with great anticipation to the third book, Wonder, due out next spring.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  73 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WWW: Watch: Solid Second Novel in the Webmind Saga April 18 2010
By C. Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
WWW: Watch is the second novel of a trilogy about an artificial intelligence, or consciousness that emerges from the World Wide Web.

In the previous novel , WWW: Wake, Catlin Decter, a brilliant 15 year old blind girl is given sight through experimental technology in the form of an implant that interprets visual signals correctly and allows her to see (in her left eye at least). Through this device she discovers a presence in the Web that starts to gain greater and greater cognitive abilities, which grows as the second novel progresses. She dubs it Webmind.

In Watch, we watch as Webmind not only develops cognitive abilities exponentially, but through the help of Catlin begins to develop its sense of ethics and, without being too maudlin, an understanding of "the meaning of life." This novel is primarily about this development, along with government agencies trying to figure out how to shut Webmind down, fearing it will become so powerful it will destroy mankind.

While I have greatly enjoyed these novels so far, and the second one is even better than the first, which is unusual for a middle novel of a trilogy, sometimes I find the interactions between the characters to be a bit unbelievable. They seem scripted more for a Grade B movie than the way people really interact with each other. And when the characters are mouthpieces for the author to pontificate a point of view on consciousness, ethics and other scientific theories, the interactions just don't ring true, even though the characters are supposed to be geniuses at math and physics.

And I wonder a bit about the lost thread about the Chinese hacker that appears in Wake. I wonder if Sawyer had abandoned that tread, or if it will somehow reappear in the next novel.

This is a good and interesting trilogy so far and very much worth reading.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars World Wide Exploration of Morality May 10 2010
By Andrew Zimmerman Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The best thing about Robert J. Sawyer's books are that they are truly about something. This book isn't just some excuse to have the internet gain self-awareness ... instead, it's a deep analysis of what makes people (be they geek, bully, computer, or chimpanzee-bonobo hybrid) choose an ethical course over the alternative.

WWW: WATCH is a middle book in the trilogy. In WWW: WAKE (the first book), blind teenager Caitlin Decter gained sight and discovered the existence of a developing consciousness in the World Wide Web. This Webmind, as she calls it, begins communicating with her ... and that's where the second book picks up. Caitlin has to come to terms with suddenly seeing a world that she's only known through touch while also dealling with the fallout from Webmind. Fortunately, she has help from her friends and family.

Less fortunate is the fact that the American government perceives Webmind as a potential threat, especially when it gains the ability to almost effortlessly bypass password security. The government decides that it needs to be terminated, a task that is far easier said than done.

This isn't an unreasonable decision, because it is clear that Webmind (at least initially) lacks any sort of morality at all ... but this, it turns out, is a good thing, because that means it gets to choose how to behave, instead of being guided by instincts which may sway it toward bad behavior. And, as the book makes clear, we all, as conscious beings, have the ability to make this choice. The subjects of morality and ethics, in contexts as varied as teenage relationships, suicide prevention, and personal privacy are explored from the perspectives of game theory, evolution, and religion.

And if you're not interested in any of that brainy stuff about human nature, the story itself stands out as a great read in its own right. I, for one, will definitely make the choice to read the third installment when it comes out ... and look forward to it!
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Disappointing After the First Book! April 24 2010
By Michael A. Newman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Let me preface this review by saying that Sawyer is my favorite scifi writer today and that I found the first book in this trilogy to be excellent. However, much to my dismay this book was difficult to get through. Caitlin has recently gained site through an implant behind one of her eyes. Her new friend, the Webmind is starting to evolve. Meanwhile a group of government scientists have detected the Webmind and want to destroy it before it becomes too powerful to be destroyed.

Caitlin eventually lets her parents know about the Webmind and they are convinced that it is someone on the Internet pulling a prank until Caitlin's father tests it out. Eventually they are convinced and are fascinated with the Webmind like it is an additional child.

Overlayed on this tale is the story about Hobo, the intelligent chimp/bonabo crossbreed. Hobo starts to get violent towards the woman who is responsible for him and the scientists have to decide what to do with him.

Meanwhile, through Dr. Kuroda, the Webmind is able to view more than text files on the internet and branches out to sound and video files. Eventually, the Webmind witnesses a teen suicide through the net. Caitlin becomes furious at it because it didn't intervene.

There comes a point where Sawyer hints that the Webmind will be to Caitlin like the computer implant that he introduced in the Hominid series.

Some of the drawbacks to this book are that you really needed to read the first book to understand what is going on and that the book drags. The deep feelings that the reader developed for Caitlin in the first book seem to be lacking here.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hokey & Downright silly at tiimes Oct. 30 2010
By Avid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've read almost every book by Sawyer and have loved many. This one, though, reads like a 70's bad film with smart AI's who (for some reason) suddenly attain consciousness and begin to act like kids. I mean, how logical is it that a new lifeform will communicate to a viewer who then tells him to go and learn English. A web AI would have at his/her/its beck and call all the knowledge of the web. It would not need sensory outputs since it could simply read about the inner workings of the senses.

The conversations struck me as incredibly hokey (the stilted English, the dumb questions, the whole thing reeking of phoniness). Perhaps this was to be another Singularity novel but of course, it's not, since its creation never evolves beyond the "Help Desk" phase. It never hits that it can/has absorbed the world's knowledge. There is one further problem. If consciousness is obtained on the Web (and revealed to a teen who tells mom & dad before all run off to dinner) how can it speak simultaneously to millions of users? A machine that processes sequentially can appear to address everyone simultaneously but a "mind" whose development is depending on its decisions cannot afford to make decisions that might affect its "brain". Maybe this is one for a beach read after several mojitas. My Grade: C-
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Sawyer - my new favorite sci-fi author June 13 2010
By John Gallagher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I finished Wake, Sawyer's first book in this series, there was no question that I would be reading Watch as soon as I could get my hands on it. As fascinated as I had been with the premise of the first book (the emergence of consciousness on the World Wide Web) the second was even more chocked full of really esoteric but readily accessible and interesting real world science and technology. One of the things I appreciate about Sawyer's fiction is that there is an awful lot of real math and science for every science fiction conceit for which he asks you to suspend belief. He is definitely a big concept guy and in Watch he brings together ideas as widely ranging as game theory, evolution, ethics and the survival of our species in a page-turning tale that is dramatically driven with sympathetic characters and opposing forces without having to demonize any of the principal actors. Beyond that, it culminates in a plausible inspirational vision for cultivating humanity's highest potentials. After this I may actually read Teilhard de Chardin.

John Gallagher, Ph.D.
Indianapolis, IN
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