SFWRITER.COM > Novels > Watch > Review Excerpts
Robert J. Sawyer's Watch
"Sawyer leads the reader through questions of the nature of consciousness, identity, privacy, morality, and empathy across the gulfs that separate intelligent beings from one another. The book is an easy read, chock-full of ideas that will stay with you long after you finish the last page. This is science fiction at its best." Don Sakers in Analog
"After the success of Wake, Hugo Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer returns with the second in the WWW trilogy, Watch. Sawyer continues the great storytelling from Wake, discussing the concepts of game theory, and what a sentient presence on the Internet could really mean for the world in his comfortable, conversational way. [Four stars out of four.]" Alex C. Telander on The Book Banter Blog
"Sawyer covers an astonishing breadth of concepts ... a welcome breath of fresh air ... Sawyer has given us a wonderful primer for our potential future." BookPage
"If Hollywood has taught us anything, it's that artificial intelligence is a bad thing ... very, very bad. Internationally lauded Canadian writer Robert J. Sawyer, author of the WWW trilogy Wake, Watch and Wonder seems to be a lone voice in opposition to the recurring theme that mankind will be in deep shit if AI happens. The idea that the Internet produces a conscious and humane-thinking entity makes a more interesting story than what you have seen a thousand times, from the paranoia of The Matrix movies to the fever dreams of the Terminator films. Meeting an all-knowing, friendly AI is a concept that sucks a lot less than the end of the world.
"Watch is a damn fine story. It defies the traditional rule of publishing weaker books as a series progresses. 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 touch points, 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.
"The reason why Sawyer's stories are so much fun is his unerring talent for creating living characters and Webmind is a truly compelling creation. Sawyer presents a compelling case for the idea that emergent AI shouldn't be viewed as a threat, but as a huge benefit to the human race." Hugh Graham in FFWD, aka Fast Forward Weekly (Calgary, Alberta)
"Robert J. Sawyer is the rarest sort of figure in contemporary
Canadian writing: a Canadian genre author deeply loyal to both his
genre and his Canadian identity.
"Watch is as fine a novel as we have come to expect from Sawyer, with a blend of human values and technological foresight.
"As readers have come to expect, Sawyer shows his genius in combining cutting-edge scientific theories and technological developments with real human characters. [Watch] explores heavy conceptual topics such as religion and politics, and yet at the same time has an accessible tone as it follows Caitlin's very human story as she struggles to understand and best help Webmind, while going about her regular teenaged life, including finding her first boyfriend.
"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." The Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper
"This is a great middle book due to the powerful characterizations, especially Webmind who provides first entity perspective. Caitlin is a superb teenager trying to keep her friend safe while her parents have always been protective of her. In fact protectiveness of others is the overarching theme as even the [government organization] WATCH contains individuals trying to keep the public safe. Readers will fully appreciate Robert J. Sawyer's brilliant WWW tale." Harriet Klausner on Genre Go Round Reviews
"This page-turning thriller by the author of Flashforward and the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy is a top-notch choice for sf fans." Jackie Cassada in Library Journal
"WWW: Watch is both thought-provoking and entertaining. Sawyer introduces a lot of heady concepts, through both his main storyline and his assorted, equally fascinating subplots. His take on the nature of artificial intelligence (not to mention non-human intelligence in general) is provocative and believable, both in how he portrays it and how he portrays the variety of human reactions it inevitably evokes.
"Robert J. Sawyer's Webmind series is indeed excellent. Great concepts, great characters, great writing this book (and this series) has them all in abundance." Allen Adams in The Maine Edge (Bangor, Maine)
"A riveting action story. Recommended." Midwest Review of Books
"Sawyer has Caitlin wrestle with many mature and complex concepts. She's a philosopher at heart [and] has been exposed to physics and mathematics by her parents, who have multiple degrees. Caitlin's youth combined with so much intellect and curiosity make her a very effective protagonist. Her development plays counterpoint to the emerging intelligence that is growing up with her.
"It's very rare for a second book in a series to surpass the first. Sawyer has done it with WWW: Watch. I enjoyed WWW: Wake as well, but things really come together in this second book. The pages of WWW: Watch are filled with suspense of a different kind as Webmind's friends race to stay ahead of the intelligence agencies who want to bring him down. I can't wait for the conclusion, WWW: Wonder." Ann Wilkes on MostlyFiction Book Reviews
"[Sawyer is] a brilliant thinker pondering some of the most fundamental questions we face today.
"Sawyer maintains the same high level interplay of ideas and action that characterizes all his work.
"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, which is why I'm looking forward to it." Michel Basilières in National Post
"Brilliant, clever, and emotionally engaging Watch is definitely a book worth picking up." [A Night Owl Reviews "Top Pick."] Night Owl Reviews
"Robert Sawyer's artificially intelligent character, called Webmind, and its teenage creator wrestle with ethics in this complex and fascinating novel." Ottawa Citizen
"Book two of Sawyer's trilogy continues the thought-provoking exploration of an emerging consciousness in the World Wide Web. It's an original and intriguing concept with three-dimensional, culturally diverse characters. Parts of the narrative are told from the perspective of the artificial intelligence itself. Sawyer makes complex sci-fi understandable and thoroughly entertaining." Gail Pruszkowski in Romantic Times BOOK Reviews (4½ Stars their highest rating)
"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. Sawyer's previous works on the subject have made clear that he believes it is consciousness that makes us human; his novels often cite very real research on the subject. But is it our physical being that makes us empathetic, humane and loving as well as cruel, selfish and mean? Not necessarily. In WWW: Watch, Webmind offers a third option: the tabula rasa mind that chooses humanity." Kel Munger in Sacramento News & Review
"When people call science fiction a literature of ideas, they mean Robert J. Sawyer. His works don't just introduce the idea and get out of the way so a plot can be hung on it; they hinge on the idea, exploring it from every angle, through the medium of characters who are perfectly willing to discuss its ramifications at great length, while we watch. It's heady stuff. But Sawyer provides plenty of food for the heart as well. Count this reader onboard for the conclusion." Adam-Troy Castro in Sci Fi magazine (published by Syfy Channel)
"Like Wake, the first in the series, Watch is a fascinating novel. Its blend of the fantastic, the technological, the literary and the logical flows effortlessly through the power of Sawyer's words. We're not trying to be too hyperbolic by any means, but it's hard not to get swept away in his distinctive hand, and by the ideas that he presents in the body of the text. Sawyer's extrapolation is thrilling. This is a great science fiction novel, a melding of Frankenstein, high technology and our own perspectives as people, brought into the context of the modern world with the skill and panache of an exemplary practitioner of the form." SciFi Now [a "Must Read Now!" pick]
"The story contained within these covers is good and satisfying, so I don't feel I've been left hanging. Sawyer's books all seem to be very easy, fast reads: he doesn't let flowery prose get in the way of telling a good story. Rather, he tells it simply and coherently, keeping the reader involved right up to the end. Watch may not be predicting the future, but it certainly is presenting potential scenarios that bear much thought and planning before they play out before us." Ian Randal Strock at SF Scope
"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. Sure, there's a lot of infodumping between characters, and some of it ranges all over the place he hits upon game theory, morality, religion, George Orwell, Star Trek, autism, Japanese military history, and so much more but these discussions rarely feel out of place. I suppose it's because Sawyer's careful to populate his books with intelligent, articulate characters who can talk about those sorts of things like some of us would discuss sports, but under the circumstances, it works.
"WWW: Watch is probably as accurate and sophisticated an exploration of emergent consciousness on the Web as we're ever to find until the real thing happens. Grounded in the pop culture and online trends of the moment, it feels authentic. It's optimistic, intelligent, and I can't wait for the third in the series." Michael M. Jones at SF Site
"A follow-up novel that surpasses the original. Strong characters; engrossing plot. What's interesting is not only all of the different components that Sawyer juggles simultaneously, but also that he is able to do so without dropping any one of them. A helluva fun read and an excellent science fiction book." John DeNardo at SF Signal
"As usual, Sawyer's prose is engaging, fast and easy reading. This author writes hard science without making the science hard. His depiction of a high school girl coming of age is spot on, and he excels in making Webmind a human character, all the time reminding us that the Internet intellect is not human. Readers can always expect that Robert Sawyer will mix great storytelling with exercises in ethics and morality. This trilogy is no exception." Mark Graham at Tor.com
"Watch is the second of three volumes in brilliant Canadian science-fiction novelist Robert J. Sawyer's trilogy about an emerging artificial intelligence loose on the Internet. Sawyer is a terrific writer. 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
More Good Reading