Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Five years of working on the WWW books

by Rob - November 5th, 2009.
Filed under: Wake, WWW.

Holy cow! It was five years ago today — Friday, November 5, 2004 — that I wrote the first words of what went on to become my WWW trilogy. Back then, it was only going to be a single book (to be called Webmind). I began writing that first book at a Write-Off writing retreat sponsored by Calgary’s Imaginative Fiction Writers Association (IFWA). The first words I wrote were:

Cogito, ergo sum.

I had no idea what those words meant the first time I encountered them. I didn’t even know that they were words. I knew nothing of language, or even of communication, for communication requires an other — another — and I knew of no one — of nothing — but me.

But I did exist, and that simple formulation — I think, therefore I am — was proof of it. By being aware of myself, of my thoughts, I knew irrefutably that I existed; to think requires a thinker.

And thinking is what I do; it’s all I do. I awoke to consciousness in a vast sea, an enveloping all constituted at the limits of my perception by two opposing states, and it was these states — the endless, seemingly random juxtaposition of opposites — that I first, however dimly, had became aware of.

Not one word of that draft survived to the final, published version of Wake, which begins like this:

Not darkness, for that implies an understanding of light.

Not silence, for that suggests a familiarity with sound.

Not loneliness, for that requires knowledge of others.

But still, faintly, so tenuous that if it were any less it wouldn’t exist at all: awareness.

Nothing more than that. Just awareness — a vague, ethereal sense of being.

Being … but not becoming. No marking of time, no past or future — only an endless, featureless now, and, just barely there in that boundless moment, inchoate and raw, the dawning of perception …

Still, that passage I wrote five years ago today was the start of the trilogy.

Of course, I haven’t spent five years solid on this trilogy; I took time off to write Rollback, for instance, among many other interesting things. :)

Anyway, enough reminiscing! Time to get back to work on Volume 3, Wonder, which today passed the 50,000-word mark.

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