Book Review – WWW: Wake (RK)

WWW: Wake (WWW, #1)WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

So, I probably shouldn’t read books about tech stuff. They usually make me laugh, about the wrong things. Then I complain that things aren’t possible and my wife gives me the blank face that means I’m saying words that don’t translate in to english the way I think they do.

The main character, a teenage girl that has a name that must not have been important. Calculass (her online handle). Her part is actually well done. Blind girl, wishes she could see, but doesn’t let that stop her from totally owning the internet and livejournal and stuff. She’s also apparently good at math, though that doesn’t really come up anywhere other than to say she’s good at it.

A miracle happens, and somehow they implant her eye with a signal processor that fixes the scrambled nonsense her eye is sending to her brain and formats it properly. This is totally a miracle, because there is no calibration, or testing, or configuration. They don’t even know what the scrambled signal from her eye looks like, because all they have to do is fly her to Japan and plug her in and it’s magically working. It is also so powerful that it overrides the bad signal from her other eye. Here I was thinking she’d have to close one eye to not get weirdly confused, but no need! Also depth perception? She doesn’t seem to have any problems.

Imagine this scenario. An alien is visiting the planet (eye). It doesn’t speak any language on earth, and it’s critically important that someone be on hand to translate things for it (signal processor), so that the people the alien is meeting (brain) can understand what’s going on. Instead of learning the language, you just get a random translator that speaks portugese and hope he can figure it out. Likelihood of success? Well according to this book that’s all it takes.

Well it doesn’t work properly at first, but they don’t really change anything on the signal processing department. What they do instead makes even less sense. Apparently when there is an active link between her implant bluetooth>wifi>internet – then she can see the internet! Well, she can see balls of light with lines attached to them, because that’s how her brain interprets links and sites. How she can see everyone that is connected to everything is never really explained. That data isn’t publically avaliable for consumption.

With this marvelous discovery, what do they do? They set up a wifi connection, and then start shoving live data about every point on the internet in to her translator device thing, over wifi. Cause, you know, the internet is small, and it can be captured and processed and displayed in real time in 1 second chunks showing the full status of everything on the internet at that very second. It can also be sent over a wifi connection, processed by a reciever the size of an ipod that is doing signal processing, and then sending out the raw data stream back to another server at the same time.

Then they start talking about rogue packets getting lost and bouncing around the whole internet forever as background noise. Like no router in the world is smart enough to drop packets with corrupted hop counts. Checksums are not used the way you think they are Robert Sawyer!


Anyway – technological nonsense aside. The story was ok, the characters were ok, the artifical intelligence that is going to take over the world and one day subjugate mankind was ok. Do I want to read the sequel? Not so much.

Favourite quote –

Something about naming the “eyePod” which is pretty funny. But I can’t find a free text version to quote from.

View all my goodreads reviews