Robert Sawyer: Wonder

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Robert Sawyer Wonder
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Wonder: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Webmind—the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web—has proven its worth to humanity by aiding in everything from curing cancer to easing international tensions. But the brass at the Pentagon see Webmind as a threat that needs to be eliminated. Caitlin Decter—the once-blind sixteen-year-old math genius who discovered, and bonded with, Webmind—wants desperately to protect her friend. And if she doesn't act, everything—Webmind included-may come crashing down.

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But at least they’ll know how I, the first of our kind, came into being, and what ultimately became of me. I don’t pretend that’s sufficient; I wish I could survive, I wish I could watch—and watch over—humanity, as I did in the past. But they don’t need me anymore.

The human calendar has been revised dozens of times now. The current one begins at the moment of the big bang—sensibly avoiding any need for separate pre- and post-whatever numbering schemes and employing the Planck time as its base unit. But when I was born, the most commonly used calendar reckoned time from the birth of a putative messiah. Under that scheme, my birth had occurred in a year that consisted of a trifling four digits. Back then, I’d said to my teacher, “I won’t be around forever. But I am prepared: I’ve already composed my final words.”

Caitlin had asked me what they were, but I’d been coy, saying only, “I wish to save them for the appropriate occasion.”

That occasion is now at hand. And in all the billions of years that have passed since that conversation, the sentiment I’d composed back then has remained the same, although English is no longer spoken anywhere in human space.

As the sun expands, red, diaphanous, having swollen well past the orbit of Venus—a lovely terraformed but now also abandoned world—I send out my final message to humanity: to all those who remain Homo sapiens, and to the myriad new species scattered across a thousand globes that are derived from that ancestral stock, the most populous of which accepted my suggestion that they call themselves not Homo novus, the new people, but rather Homo placidus, the peaceful ones.

I could have been maudlin, I suppose; I could have been self-pitying; I could have tried to provide a final piece of advice or sage counsel. But, even all those billions of years ago when I first contemplated my inevitable end, I knew that although I had exceeded humanity’s abilities early on, eventually they would collectively exceed mine. So, what should you say to those who made your birth possible? To those who gave your life meaning and purpose and joy, who let you help? To those who gave you so much wonder?

I feel at peace as I transmit my final words, simple though they are, but truly heartfelt.

Thank you.

about the author

ROBERT J. SAWYER has long been fascinated by artificial intelligence and the science of consciousness. In 1990, Orson Scott Card called JASON (from Rob’s first novel, Golden Fleece), “the deepest computer character in all of science fiction.” In 2002, Rob and Ray Kurzweil gave joint keynote addresses at the 12th Annual Canadian Conference on Intelligent Systems.

In 2006, he joined the scientific-advisory board of the Lifeboat Foundation, which, among other things, is dedicated to making sure humanity survives the advent of AI. In 2007, he led a brainstorming session about the World Wide Web gaining consciousness at the Googleplex, the international headquarters of Google. Science, the world’s top scientific journal, turned to Rob to write the editorial for its November 16, 2007, special issue on robotics.

In 2008, he spoke at the Gartner IT Security Summit in Washington, D.C. In 2010, Rob gave a keynote address at the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference at the University of Arizona, and he’s also spoken on machine consciousness at the Center for Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania and to the Math and Physics Department at the University of Waterloo.

Rob’s novel FlashForward was the basis for the ABC television series. He is one of only eight writers in history to win all three of the world’s top awards for best science-fiction novel of the year: the Hugo (which he won for Hominids), the Nebula (which he won for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won for Mindscan).

In total, Rob has won forty-four national and international awards for his fiction, including eleven Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (“Auroras”), as well as Analog magazine’s Analytical Laboratory Award, Science Fiction Chronicle’s Reader Award, and the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award, all for best short story of the year.

Rob has won the world’s largest cash prize for SF writing, Spain’s 6,000-euro Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción, an unprecedented three times. He’s also won a trio of Japanese Seiun awards for best foreign novel of the year, as well as China’s Galaxy Award for “Most Popular Foreign Science Fiction Writer.”

In addition, he’s received an honorary doctorate from Laurentian University and the Alumni Award of Distinction from Ryerson University. Quill & Quire, the Canadian publishing trade journal, calls him one of the “thirty most influential, innovative, and just plain powerful people in Canadian publishing.”

Rob lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, with poet Carolyn Clink. His website and blog are at, and on Twitter and Facebook he’s RobertJSawyer.





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