Guest Review: WWW:Wake


by: ExtraPenguin

Reasons for Inclusion: Blind protagonist. Her Japanese doctor is a viewpoint character for a few scenes. Subplot set in China


(5/5 stars)

It was an intriguing book, and more about discovery than about domination, and emotionally hopeful in a way that hearkened back to Classic SF. The protagonist, Caitlin Decter, is a 15-year-old blind girl who’s just moved to Canada, and receives a chance for an operation that may let her see. When the implant doesn’t work at first, she is given the Jagster datastream piped into it, and thus can “see” the Internet.

I liked the way Caitlin’s blindness informed the book – not merely the whole “she can’t see and here are her accessibility technologies” bit, but her knowledge of Helen Keller colors her interactions and attitudes towards lifeforms.

The book talks a bit on the statistical methods that are relevant for the data analysis done, as well as on sentience and minds, which is the focus. Julian Jaynes’ The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind is built upon, as are Helen Keller’s life’s works.

All in all, it’s a refreshingly optimistic book, with a hopeful, awe-inspiring end.

Review: The Nameless City


Reasons for Inclusion: Chinese inspired setting, multiple races and cultures, class issues discussed, imperialism/oppression is a major theme.

My Review:

(5/5 stars)

 Outside a city that has been conquered over and over again, leaving it with too many names to count, a son of the current occupying forces learns to fight. On a trip into the city, he meets a street girl, one of the people who have lived in the city over the course of countless regimes. Rat reluctantly agrees to teach him the ways of the city. And slowly, both of them learn that the situation is far more complicated than either had thought.

This was absolutely amazing. The art was outstanding, capturing the setting, characters, and action in beautiful detail. I’m definitely going to buy this when it comes out, and I know a lot of other people who will love it too.  

I loved the politics. Kai and Rat start off with the black-and-white views to be expected of children: Kai sees his people, the Dao, as military geniuses who protect the city from chaos, and Rat sees them as wicked oppressors. But Kai is uncomfortable with the hateful words he hears from some of the Dao, and Rat sees that Kai respects her people and doesn’t deserve to be hated.  

This isn’t the sort of situation that can be fixed with a violent rebellion, not with dozens of other nations vying for control. 

There’s a scene I felt was particularly interesting, where a rebel interrupts a festival to call for violent protest, and is attacked by soldiers. It’s clear that not only are the soldiers wrong to attack him, but that his strategy, well-meaning as it is, isn’t really the right way either.

So it’s left to Kai and Rat, with the help of their mentors, to find a way to bring peace to the city and expose the plots that would turn it to violence. 

Reading this, I was reminding faintly of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Nameless City had the same political complexity, diversity in cultures, and fun, active characters. I’m looking forward to the rest of the trilogy! 

(Review copy from Netgalley)