Caitlin was born blind, and when, newly arrived in tenth grade, she is offered a chance at an experimental procedure to give her sight, she leaps at it, despite previous disappointments. When she returns from the Tokyo hospital in which she underwent the procedure, it seems a failure. Soon enough, though, she discovers that, instead of reality, she is perceiving the Web. What’s particularly interesting is the background noise. Something strange is floating around behind the nodes of normal Webspace; a closer look reveals that, whatever it is, it’s not just meaningless noise. Caitlin’s story alternates with those of Hobo, a chimp whose claim to fame is being one of the first two apes to video-chat online; an entity of mysterious provenance; and a Chinese dissident blogger who is quite curious about why everything from outside China is blocked. Sawyer’s take on theories about the origin of consciousness, generated within the framework of an engaging story, is fascinating, and his approach to machine consciousness and the Internet is surprisingly fresh.