{4.5/5} “Back on the African savannah, those who mistook every bit of movement in the grass for a hungry lion were more likely to survive than those who dismissed each movement as nothing to worry about. If you always assume that it’s a lion, and nine times out of ten you’re wrong, at least you’re still alive. If you always assume that it’s not a lion, and nine times out of ten you’re right — you end up dead. It was a fascinating and somewhat disturbing notion: that humans had been hardwired through genetics to get certain kinds of mathematical problems wrong — that evolution could actually program people to be incorrect about things.”

Watch by Robert J. Sawyer, published in 2010

Watch is the second book in Sawyer’s WWW trilogy.

The entity on the Web that has developed consciousness has called itself Webmind. Webmind has learned a lot — it started by reading text, then moved onto images, and finally video. But an agency called WATCH in the US has learned about Webmind and they think it should be terminated. We also continue to follow Caitlin as she tries to instruct Webmind how to be good, and as she does normal teenage things like asking a boy out. Meanwhile Hobo the bonobo-chimpanzee has been able to communicate over the internet, using sign language, with an orangutan.

Caitlin is still as charming as ever, and it’s fun to follow her. As for Webmind, over the course of this book he — Caitlin decided he was male — becomes a fascinating character himself.

Sawyer populates his books with thoughtful characters — ones who discuss topics like consciousness and game theory, and watch shows like Star Trek and Planet of the Apes. And his prose is so smooth — I read his books faster than most.

It’s a fabulous book, with an exciting ending. I haven’t read many sequels lately but there was no question about whether I would read this book — the next one will be following soon.

I previously reviewed Sawyer’s novel Wake.

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