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WWW:Wake (Robert J Sawyer, WWW Trilogy #1)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
WWW:Wake is a contemporary hard sci-fi coming of age story. Apparently it is the first in a trilogy, but I was rather surprised to learn this, since this book stands so well on its own. This is one of the best hard sci-fi books I have read. I’ve read quite a lot of sci-fi dealing with the emergence of machine intelligence, but this is first one I found at all believable or well thought out. The human side isn’t neglected, either, as it often is in hard sci-fi; the author also does well here. The characters are vivid and unique, deep without a great deal of exposition. The author does a great job of condensing an intrinsically complicated story until it is both manageable and quick moving. With the exception of one brief scene (fairly PG, but non-consensual, groping) which might disturb some readers who are sensitive to such things, I would unhesitatingly recommend WWW:Wake to anyone with even a passing interest in sci-fi; I doubt you will be disappointed by this book.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Spin (Robert Charles Wilson)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Spin attempts to combine a fairly intriguing and original hard sci-fi concept with a deep personal story.  The sci-fi elements really don’t take up that much room; you could probably write them all out in about 10 pages, so the bulk of the book is comprised of the story of one man’s events during this sci-fi event.  Unfortunately, while the sci-fi elements are compelling, the human side of things is maudlin and boring.  The characters are as deep as I have ever seen in a book, with detailed backstories and personal dramas, but at their core they are fundamentally very, very uninteresting and uncompelling characters.  I enjoyed finishing this book, and once the whole sci-fi aspect had been revealed I found myself having fun thinking about it, but the actual experience of reading the book was tedious and unpleasant.  As a genre, hard sci-fi can and should do better at marrying intriguing concepts with compelling stories, so I do not recommend this book.
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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy