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I don't think I will ever much enjoy a Sawyer novel, but this one irritated me less than most of his books. The prose was not particularly awful, and the plot mostly makes sense; the story of the blind girl gaining sight for the first time resonates almost neatly with the story of a conscious intelligence developing in the internet.

It is, of course, a flawed book. Caitlin writes a livejournal which sounds nothing like any teenager's livejournal I have read. The AI character, absorbing all the knowledge of the www, is unfazed by linguistic differences or by the difficulty of telling truth from fiction, and deduces middle Canadian morality from Project Gutenberg (and I hate cute disembodied artificial intelligences almost as much as I hate cute robots). There are two subplots, one about China and one about intelligent apes, which go nowhere (they may be setting up for the two coming volumes of the trilogy, but I must judge this volume on its own).

Most damning, Caitlin, whose life has been utterly constrained by her own disability, does not even notice her father's somewhat different disability until two-thirds of the way through the book; which seems utterly out of character for the sort of person we are told she is.

So, not surprisingly, this is at the bottom of my Hugo list so far, with two more to go.
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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 25th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
I don't think I will ever much enjoy a Sawyer novel, but this one irritated me less than most of his books.

Can't see you getting a gig as a Robert K. Sawyer blurb writer any time soon. I'm sure you'll be heartbroken at that...

Now, John Scalzi, I could actually see asking his publisher to put something like that as the last blurb on the back of his next book, if only in a post-ironic way.
May. 25th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
It's surprisingly good as an audiobook. I haven't finished it yet, and I'm with you on being annoyed by bunches of it, but the readers are doing a great job. I can tell that I'm tolerating it more on their behalf than because of anything in the actual story.
May. 26th, 2010 07:59 am (UTC)
I enjoyed hearing about the Zipf Plot, however.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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