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1. Golden Fleece
2. WWW: Watch
3. Humans (Neanderthal Parallax)
4. Foreigner: Book Three of the Quintaglio
5. Calculating God
6. End of An Era
7. Flashforward
8. Far-Seer: Book One of the Quintaglio
9. Fossil Hunter: Book Two of The
10. Hybrids (Neanderthal Parallax)
11. Mindscan
12. Rollback
13. Wake (Www Trilogy)
14. Starplex
15. Factoring Humanity
16. Frameshift
17. Hominids
18. Illegal Alien
19. Iterations
20. The Terminal Experiment

1. Golden Fleece
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 224 Pages (1999-11-05)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$10.66
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312868650
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Aboard Argo, a colonization ship bound for Eta Cephei IV, people are very close--there's no other choice. So when Aaron Rossman's ex-wife dies in what seems to be a bizarre accident, everyone offers their sympathy, politely keeping their suspicions of suicide to themselves. But Aaron cannot simply accept her death. He must know the truth: Was it an accident, or did she commit suicide? When Aaron discovers the truth behind her death, he is faced with a terrible secret--a secret that could cost him his life.
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Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Sawyer's first book is as good as many later ones.
This story is narrated by JASON, the Argo's artificially intelligent computer. Sawyer's skill with thoughtful dialogue are evident here. JASON begins the story by describing his part in causing a crew member's death, without divulging why. He seems at once sinister, and dangerous. The rest of the large crew are on a mission to a distant solar system, to explore a possibly habitable planet. They are troubled by the death of their fellow crew member, which is thought to be a suicide. Clues about the death are discovered, and all is not as it seems. The nature of the mission and of JASON are also not what they seem, as the story unfolds. Moral issues are explored along the way, and the story moves along at a brisk pace. A very good book overall, and well worth the time. This one is easily identifiable as a Sawyer book, in light of his later works.

5-0 out of 5 stars I think,therefore, I am.

Golden Fleece

Some might say that Golden Fleece (1999) is a simple murder mystery, but, if they'd dig deeper, they'd find it explores the philosophy of a sentient computer, the sociology of a space voyage that lasts over one hundred years.

The dictionary defines sentient as an adjective
Etymology: Latin sentient-, sentiens, present participle of sentire to perceive, feel
1 : responsive to or conscious of sense impressions

Can a computer be sentient?

Instead of a "Who-done-It," it is a "Why-did-they-do it" The murderer is revealed in Chapter One.The motive for the murder is the mystery.

The rest of the book explores the sentience of the computer, Jason.

Highly recommended for Sawyer fans.This was originally copyrighted in 1990, so it is one of his earliest works.


4-0 out of 5 stars A Wrongful Death?
Golden Fleece (1990) is a singleton SF novel.The Argo is a spacegoing arcology, with 10,034 people aboard, en route to Colchis, a planet in the Eta Cephei system.It is controlled by a tenth generation computer named Jason.

In this novel, Jason herds Diana Chandler into a lander and launches her into space.The intense radiation from the Brussard ramjet fields kills her almost instantly after the craft leaves the protection of the habitat.Then Jason reports the "accident" to Aaron Rossman, supervisor of the Argo's landing craft and Diana's ex-husband.

Jason assumes that the lander will be destroyed or lost, yet Aaron devises a method of retrieving it by reconfiguring the magnetic fields.When Diana's body is returned to the Argo, it is examined by Kristen Hoogenraad, one of the Argo's medical staff and Aaron's current wife.This examination reveals a few injuries that are acceptable under these conditions, but the landing craft itself has two unexplained anomalies.

The lander has received much more radiation than anticipated for the short exposure.Moreover, the craft has too little remaining fuel.The reception party is puzzled by these discrepancies, but not very suspicious.Everybody just assumes that Diana's death is a suicide.

Aaron can't believe that Diana has committed suicide, but doesn't have any other reasonable explanation for her death.When a mutual friend excuses him of driving her to suicide, however, Aaron suddenly realizes that his affair with Kristen has been a subject of gossip on the ship.He begins to blame himself for Diana's death.Of course, Kristen tries to convince him otherwise, but Jason surreptitiously promotes this self-blame.

In this story, the usual mystery framework is twisted.The killer is known from the first paragraph, although his identity is not completely revealed until the second page.The method and opportunity are fully disclosed in the first chapter;only the motive is unclear.

As with most classical mysteries, the reasons for the killing of Diana only become evident at the very end of the story.Throughout the tale, Jason comes across as a passionate, but dedicated persona.He tries to do the best he can for the human race, but is willing to kill to achieve his goals.Will he kill again?

This story resembles 2001: The Space Odyssey is some ways, but Jason is not HAL 9000.In fact, part of the intent behind the novel may have been as a refutation of that film.Computers are not able to override their programming without hardware or software damage and/or defects.Most computer errors are the result of poor programming.Computers are unbelievably dumb, doing exactly what they are told to do;even sheep have more common sense than computers.

Apparently some of the readers didn't understand the relativity issues brought up by the author.The faster the ship travels, the slower the onboard mechanical and biological clocks advance.A velocity very near lightspeed would reduce the passage of internal time during the voyage to almost nothing.The author doesn't invoke Faster-Than-Light travel, but relativity when writing of voyages taking less than a (perceived) day.

The novel is not very tightly written, but is better than many other first novels.It rambles a bit here and there and tends to be dull in spots, mostly to provide material for the denouement.One of the sidelines concerns a SETI message from another part of the sky;still, this may have been included as a leadin to a possible sequel that has not yet been published.

Although the plot ends with a purely conventional resolution, one wonders whether Aaron has done the right thing.Still, Jason has a plan . . .

Recommended for Sawyer fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of seemingly intelligent computers, locked door mysteries, and clever detective work.

-Arthur W. Jordin

3-0 out of 5 stars An A.I. with an attitude
The narrator of this book is the artificially intelligent computer running a huge starship, and the first thing it says (prior to killing a character who has uncovered some uncomfortable facts regarding the mission,) is "I love that they trusted me blindly." I felt like telling it "Well of course they trust you blindly! What else can they do but trust you blindly? To not trust you completely they would have to exist all the time in a state of great and paranoid fear! Would that be preferable to you?" Despite the fact that I thought the A.I. (which the author calls a "Quant-Con,") manipulative and not a very good psychologist, (plus it says of the researcher it kills with intense radiation, "Her face was a mask of horror...(Her's) would have an interesting death to watch." Very off-putting...) I found this story worth buying and reading. I was confused by the author's seeming to acknowledge that FTL travel was impossible and then later revealing that it is after all possible. I kept expecting Jason (the A.I.,) to say something like, "Ah, But we Quant-Cons have found a loophole in Einstein's law...", but he never did. This and a problem with Bussard ramjets were never addressed, but physics problems in sci-fi books I don't find iinherently disqualifying, (as long as they're handled right,) because it seems to me that to be too nit-pickey about this would be to instantly discard about 99.5% of the genre, and also because we might not know everything yet.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not the best Sawyer, but pretty good
This is one of Sawyer's earlier novels.While it is not quite up to the standards of later works, (like THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT), it has a great premise and is superior to most science fiction on the shelves today.

Golden Fleece is a murder mystery - but the mystery is not who, we know that right away, it's the "why?" and "will they be caught?"The untangling of these two questions - aboard a generational ship, making it a locked room mystery for the passengers - has the backdrop of the psychology of a generational ship and how man deals with Artificial Intelligence. ... Read more

2. WWW: Watch
by Robert J. Sawyer
Hardcover: 368 Pages (2010-04-06)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$6.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0040RMF5M
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer continues his "wildly though- provoking" science fiction saga of a sentient World Wide Web.

Webmind is an emerging consciousness that has befriended Caitlin Decter and grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH-the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States-and they're fully aware of Caitlin's involvement in its awakening.

WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion-and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

2-0 out of 5 stars Hokey & Downright silly at tiimes
I've read almost every book by Sawyer and have loved many.This one, though, reads like a 70's bad film with smart AI's who (for some reason) suddenly attain consciousness and begin to act like kids.I mean, how logical is it that a new lifeform will communicate to a viewer who then tells him to go and learn English.A web AI would have at his/her/its beck and call all the knowledge of the web.It would not need sensory outputs since it could simply read about the inner workings of the senses.

The conversations struck me as incredibly hokey (the stilted English, the dumb questions, the whole thing reeking of phoniness).Perhaps this was to be another Singularity novel but of course, it's not, since its creation never evolves beyond the "Help Desk" phase.It never hits that it can/has absorbed the world's knowledge.There is one further problem.If consciousness is obtained on the Web (and revealed to a teen who tells mom & dad before all run off to dinner) how can it speak simultaneously to millions of users? A machine that processes sequentially can appear to address everyone simultaneously but a "mind" whose development is depending on its decisions cannot afford to make decisions that might affect its "brain". Maybe this is one for a beach read after several mojitas.My Grade: C-

5-0 out of 5 stars WWW: Watch & WWW: Wake - Great Reads
WWW: Watch is a typical, excellent Robert Sawyer novel.It's very readable, and it presents some very advanced technical concepts while doing an excellent job of character development.

Two very important things about this novel:

1.Before you read WWW: Watch, you must read WWW: Wake, which is the first book of the WWW: trilogy.(You can order it from Amazon).If anything, WWW: Wake is more impressive than WWW: Watch because it introduces critical concepts to do with the spontaneous awakening of a new kind of consciousness.

2.These novels will be of extra interest to "computer people" and technologists, who will likely appreciate the importance of the new concepts that Sawyer presents more than others.

I highly recommend this trilogy.The third and last book will be out fairly soon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Deals with deep issues, with wonderful characterization
This is the second book in Sawyer's WWW trilogy.The third book WWW: Wonder is due out in April of 2011.This was another amazing book.Sawyer does a great job of packing in a ton of issues, both philosophical and political, that make the reader really think, while giving the reader characters that are interesting and easy to relate too.I loved this book.I listened to this on audiobook, which I highly recommend.The audiobook is exceedingly well done, with different voice actors for the different points of view.I think listening to this on audiobook makes this book even better than reading it on paper would be.

This book picks up literally right where the first book left off.Caitlin is still reeling at the realization that Webmind is real.She decides to tell her parents about it since she is struggling to keep Webmind busy and worried about what might happen to him over a time of inactivity.When the government starts plaguing Caitlin and her family they have some tough decisions to make about what to do with their knowledge of Webmind.Meanwhile Hobo, the ape who had his first inter-species webchat with a chimp in the first book, starts getting violent with his keepers.This puts Hobo's already uncertain future at even greater risk.The last storyline deals with the NSA in the United States; they discover unconventional activity on the web and think at first it may be a terrorist threat...when they finally decide it is actually an emerging consciousness they want answers.

This book touches on so many issues it is mind-boggling and it does it in a way that is easy to relate to and follow.It is really a book that will make you think.Some of the political issues addressed are racism, animal rights, GLBT rights, the privacy act,national security, international politics, and human rights.Some of the deeper issues touched on are the differences between artificial intelligence and emerging consciousness, autism, blindness, suicide, and the question behind how emerging consciousness can override natural selection and evolution.All of it is very interesting and presented in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

The characters are fantastic.All of them are intelligent and highly engaging.I love the dynamics between Caitlin and her family; how even with her father's autism to struggle with, they are a cohesive force that works together, respects each other, and understands each other.I also liked that Caitlin develops a love interest, this made Caitlin more real and was realistic given her age.I love how even with all the fantastic stuff going on in her life, Caitlin can still be concerned about how she comes off to Matt...it makes her totally real and likable.

Some of the story lines that didn't really seem to relate in the first book come together in this book.Finally we see how the story of Hobo and how what happened with China shutting down their web infrastructure is related to the emergence of Webmind.

The biggest disappointment for me in this book was how the government approached Webmind.As many might predict the government's knee-jerk reaction is to shut Webmind down.It made me a bit sad that Sawyer couldn't try a more creative government reaction than the one that is normally presented in the majority of books dealing with AI; of course the way Sawyer wrote is very realistic...it is just too bad it has to be that way.

Overall I loved some of the theories presented in this novel.The idea of consciousness modifying behaviors dictated by evolution is an underlying theme and it's an interesting one.The characters and story are very engaging.The story is nicely wrapped up in this book leaving me to wonder what Sawyer will do in book 3, WWW: Wonder.Absolutely love this series.It makes heavy issues easy to relate to and contemplate and has wonderful characterization.I will definitely be checking out more of Sawyer's works when I finish this trilogy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent as always
First, a disclaimer.Rob Sawyer's a friend of mine.... I've never met him (I'm not sure I'm allowed in Canada) - just from CompuServe way back when, and e-mail once in a while since that poofed.I think I've read every novel he's ever written, and some other material done for the Canadian Broadcast Network or something like that.

My only complaint, ever, with Rob's work, is that the novels are too short.I really get rolling, and poof....With multi-part stuff, like WWW:Watch, it's more of a "when will that next volume be out" thing, but he's done a couple others.Not that they're unfinished, but you get to know the characters - he does a fine job of that!

WWW:Watch is part 2 of a three- part series that is based on the WWW "coming alive", by way of a young girl's vision implant.The premise is believable, IMHO, because the "intelligence" available on the technical (hardware) side is there.

Mostly, it's just fun....

Rob's stuff tends to be slightly skewed to a Canadian viewpoint (which can be pretty funny - one of his better works is a "Time Machine" sort of story presuming buying the hardware at Best Buy or some such).He also KNOWS the science behind much of it - you don't see "because the Martians don't like green paint" solutions.... (That sort of warning was in the Star Trek style manual, many years ago.)An interesting read always.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go watch the mailbox.Volume 3 should be available soon.... :D

5-0 out of 5 stars Governmental Interference
WWW: Watch (2010) is the second SF novel in the WWW trilogy, following WWW: Wake.In the previous volume, Caitlin recovered her sight and went back to school.She told off Trevor and Bashira laughed.Then she received an email from the Phantom saying happy birthday.She asked what name she should call it and got the replay "Webmind".

In this novel, Webmind is an emergent sentient within the Internet.It exists through mutated packets that are not deleted when they exceed their retry count.

Caitlin Decter is fifteen years old.She had been blind since birth due to garbled signals from her retinas.She recovered the sight in her left eye with an experimental device to correct the signals.Since the device was installed, she can view either the World Wide Web or the real world.

Malcolm Decter is Caitlin's father.He is autistic, but is also a renown physicist.He has a position at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Barbara Decter is Caitlin's mother.She has a Ph.D. in Economics, but quit her job to take care of her blind daughter.Now that her daughter is no longer blind, she is looking for another position.

Masayuki Kuroda is a neuroscientist at the University of Tokyo.He has a Ph.D. from Cambridge and specializes in signal processing within the primary visual cortex.He has grown to know and respect the Decter family.

Anthony Moretti works for Web Activity Threat Containment Headquarters.Tony supervises the WATCH monitoring center in Alexandria, Virginia.

In this story, Webmind is growing more knowledgeable at an increasing rate.He has absorbed the Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg and other online databases.His conversation may use many obsolete terms, but is still understandable.

Caitlin introduces her mother to Webmind.At first, Barbara thinks that it is just another internet scam.She decides that it is only a natural language program.

Then they ask Malcolm to decide.He administers some impromptu Turing tests and Webmind consistently fails.These results indicate that Webmind is not human, but his vocabulary and reasoning ability suggest that it is not a computer program.

WATCH analysts observe an increase in WWW activity and track it down to Caitlin's eyePod.Tony is notified and learns that it is visual data coded in an unknown protocol.Moreover, the datastream is being copied to an unknown location.

WATCH analysts also find an IM connection to the same location.The information in the messages soon convinces them that Caitlin believes the other party is a web-dwelling entity.Tony calls in a specialist in artificial intelligence.

After reading the intercepted data, the AI specialist decides that Caitlin is correct.It soon becomes obvious that Webmind does not dwell on any single computer or cluster of computers.So he believes that Webmind is an emergent intelligence.

The AI specialist informs them that existing contingency plans call for elimination of an emergent entity.With its growth rate, it will soon become much more intelligent than humans.And the Pandora Protocol assumes that it will be hostile to humanity.

Tony bucks this information upstairs.The highest person available is the Secretary of State.They agree to assign a codename -- Exponential -- to the entity to confuse anyone who intercepts their messages.

The Secretary is reluctant to terminate Exponential.The current issue of the Chinese slaughter of plague carriers has raised an international outcry.She doesn't want to cause another public relations crisis over the elimination of an emergent mind.

Meanwhile, Webmind has tried multitasking.It is difficult, but works up to a point.Then the separate tasks interfere with each other and its conscious processes lock up.

The Decters call Kuroda in Japan.At first he is too logy with sleep to understand, but he gradually wakes up.He suggests that Webmind has run up against the fundamental condition in consciousness of focus.

This tale has WATCH involving other governmental intelligence agencies in the investigation.Caitlin and her associates are interviewed by agents trying to discover Webmind's nature.Then Caitlin finds a boyfriend in her math class.

The novel has several hanging plotlines.The concluding installment -- WWW: Wonder -- should tie up these loose threads.Read and enjoy!

Highly recommended for Sawyer fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of artificial sapience, governmental paranoia, and a bit of romance.

-Arthur W. Jordin ... Read more

3. Humans (Neanderthal Parallax)
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 384 Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$1.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765326337
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Neanderthal physicist Ponder Boddit, a character you will never forget, returns to our world and to his relationship with geneticist Mary Vaughn, in this sequel to Hominids, winner of the Hugo Award for best novel, as cultural exchanges between the two Earths begin.

Robert J. Sawyer, an award-winning and bestselling writer, hits the peak of his powers in this trilogy about our world and a parallel one in which Neanderthals became the dominant intelligent species. This powerful idea allows Sawyer to examine some of the deep-rooted assumptions of contemporary human civilization, by confronting us with another civilization, just as morally valid, that made other choices. As we see daily life in a present-day world that is radically different from ours, we experience the bursts of wonder and enlightenment that are the finest pleasures of science fiction.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (55)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sawyer Does it Again!
Robert Sawyer is a master of science fiction! And his grasp of technical matters is so far beyond me I often google what he writes, and always find out he is right on with his science, history and sociology....a must read page turner that you will not put down till the end!

4-0 out of 5 stars species collide
I found the first two volumes of the 'parallax' series to be quite a lot of fun. Sawyer put a good deal of effort into making his characters just alien enough, yet just endearing enough, for his well-crafted stories to hang together.

I had a niggling question about one of his theories, specifically on how the Neanderthal society acted to weed out the potential for crime in the gene pool, and emailed him. Even though this book is several years old, and presumably Sawyer has moved on to other things, I received a carefully considered answer within a few hours! (Sawyer promised me that the answer is in Hybrids, which is next on my list...)

3-0 out of 5 stars Preachy and unconvincing but contains some interesting speculation
This is the sequel to Sawyer's novel "Hominids" in which intelligent Neanderthals from an alternate universe travel to our world.As a sequel, this one suffers from the usual problems of sequels.Most of the big ideas were presented in "Hominids" and in this novel what is mainly going on is the Neanderthals are sizing up our Homo Sapiens society.Unfortunately, for the most part this consists of Sawyer inflicting various political axe-grindings upon his readers, and there are no startling revelations here.("Hominids" by contrast does contain some genuinely interesting speculation.)Further, the Neanderthals become less and less plausible as this series progresses.We are invited to believe that this non-industrial Neanderthal society that in these novels never discovered the airplane, rockets, satellites, atomic energy, or for that matter an alphabet or agriculture, nevertheless can manufacture force fields, sentient supercomputers the size of one's fist, and artificial genes.Maybe, but I didn't find it convincing.

The relationship between Vaughn and Ponter was similarly implausible.Humans from different cultures have enough difficulty forming a relationship; this one just did not work.The violence at the end of the novel added nothing to the story and will simply creep out most readers.

Three stars for readability but this one is a let-down after "Hominids."

1-0 out of 5 stars White Male -bad
If you are looking for a feminist philosophy handbook - enjoy.Apparently western thought is rubbish and socialism is where it is all at.In order to read this book I had to suspend everything I know about economic laws.In the idealized neanderthal society one doesn't even have to buy a house.When one is of age, simply go pick out an empty one.So, who gets the lakefront penthouse?

It was painful but I finished the book.I won't be reading any more from this author.Cool premise, abysmal execution.

4-0 out of 5 stars A bit of a letdown from the first book
To be far, I loved Hominids, the first book in this triology. But as I read Humans, part 2 of the saga, I found I was somewhat disappointed in the depiction of the Neanderthal world. We first get a glimpse of that world in Part 1 through the eyes of Ponter who gets transported to our world. Perhaps because Ponter is such an interesting character, his decription of his world is so much more vivid than the account of the Neanderthal world in part 2.

Granted, Sawyer (who's rapidly becoming one of my favorite sci-fi writers) is still engaging in his storytelling. But the revelations he makes about the Neanderthal world in part 2 don't seem as revealing as they did in the first book. Still, it's an enjoyable reading experience and I'm looking forward to reading the final part of the trilogy.

About the only quibble I could come up with is the subplot about one of the main characters getting shot on the streets of New York City. I can understand the point Sawyer is trying to make, but it just seems for jarringly out of place. ... Read more

4. Foreigner: Book Three of the Quintaglio Ascension
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 320 Pages (2005-08-01)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$2.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765309726
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

In Far-Seer and Fossil Hunter, we met the Quintaglios, a race of intelligent dinosaurs from Earth and learned of the threat to their very existence. Now they must quickly advance from a culture equivalent to our Renaissance to the point where they can leave their planet.
While the Quintaglios rush to develop space travel, the discovery of a second species of intelligent dinosaur rocks their most fundamental beliefs. Meanwhile, blind Afsan -- the dinosaurian Galileo -- undergoes the newfangled treatment of psychoanalysis, throwing everything he thought he knew about his violent people into a startling new light.
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Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Yup, Ditto
RJS is one of my favorite authors...

Well written, and interesting read.


2-0 out of 5 stars Gift for Grandson
I bought this book for my Grandson, who lives in another state and haven't gotten it to him yet.He has read the others in the trilogy and enjoyed them and requested this one.My only problem was that Amazon sent me two of them and then deducted S&H from my refund because UPS would not take it without my paying the postage.I did not order two, only one. If I had any problems with placing the order, I might have thought it was my fault, but I didn't and don't feel that I should be penalized for Amazon's error.

5-0 out of 5 stars What is that Blue Stuff,Anyhow?

Foreigner (1994) is the third and final book of Sawyer's Quitaglio Ascension trilogy.

In Foreigner Sawyer borrows elements from real Human History to add bits and pieces to his characterizations.In this one he borrows bits and pieces from Guy de Chaulia, Sigismund Schlomo Freud Also; there is a little Japanese Kamikazes. There that's enough clues.Go out and get this book!

If you enjoyed The Fossil-Hunter and the Far-Seer as much as I did, you'll want to read this concluding book.

Next comes... nothing. Oh, well, I'll check out his short stories in Iterations, maybe read Calculating God, again. Or possibly the Neanderthal series ,hmm.

Sawyer does let his Liberal leanings peek out at you in this book, but not terribly so.The nose of the camel does get snuck under the tent.

All in all this is a delightful ending to a very pleasant trilogy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Justice must beblind
Foreigner is a satisfying conclusion to the Quintaglio series. How to get off the moon before certain destruction? How to deal with a newly discovered dinosaur species? Why do the gest Quintaglios have such rage and then contrition when seening those new dinosaurs? It's not just dinosaurs, it's pyschology and family and thinking outside the egg. Loads of fun and lots of thought in this terrific read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Agreeable conclusion to the trilogy
An exciting and interesting conclusion to Robert Sawyer's trilogy about intelligent descendants of the dinosaurs.Naturally in the way that fiction often does, it wraps up the loose ends almost too well.I was interested to discover that this is some of Sawyer's earliest published work.It has been a while since I read any of his more recent work but I think there is a contrast - the protagonists in the Hominids series are not nearly as certain or guaranteed of success.

What actually happens in the book?It would be difficult to say much without giving away a lot of the plot, but from the blurb you can doubtless gather that the Quintaglios discover they are not the only intelligent species on their moon.What they find out about their neighbours leads to very difficult times indeed, and threatens the goal of escape from their doomed home. ... Read more

5. Calculating God
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 336 Pages (2009-03-03)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765322897
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

An alien shuttle craft lands outside the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. A six-legged, two-armed alien emerges and says, in perfect English, “Take me to a paleontologist.”

In the distant past, Earth, the alien’s home planet, and the home planet of another alien species, all experienced the same five cataclysmic events at the same time (one example: the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs). Both alien races believe this proves the existence of God: i.e., he’s obviously been playing with the evolution of life on each of these planets. From this provocative launch point, Sawyer tells a fast-paced, morally and intellectually challenging story of ambitious scope and touching humanity. Calculating God is SF on a grand scale.

Amazon.com Review
Creationists rarely find sympathy in the ranks of science fiction authors--or fans, for that matter. And while Robert J. Sawyer doesn't exactly make peace with evangelicals on the issue, Calculating God has to be one of the more thoughtful and sympathetic SF portrayals you'll find of religion and intelligent design. But that should come as no surprise from this crafty Canadian: in the Nebula Award-winning Terminal Experiment, Sawyer speculated on what would happen if hard evidence were ever found for the human soul; in Calculating God, he turns science on its head again when earth is invaded by theists from outer space.

The book starts out like the setup for some punny science fiction joke: An alien walks into a museum and asks if he can see a paleontologist. But the arachnid ET hasn't come aboard a rowboat with the Pope and Stephen Hawking (although His Holiness does request an audience later). Landing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the spacefarer (named Hollus) asks to compare notes on mass extinctions with resident dino-scientist Thomas Jericho. A shocked Jericho finds that not only does life exist on other planets, but that every civilization in the galaxy has experienced extinction events at precisely the same time. Armed with that disconcerting information (and a little help from a grand unifying theory), the alien informs Jericho, almost dismissively, that "the primary goal of modern science is to discover why God has behaved as he has and to determine his methods."

Inventive, fast-paced, and alternately funny and touching, Calculating God sneaks in a well-researched survey of evolution science, exobiology, and philosophy amidst the banter between Hollus and Jericho. But the book also proves to be very moving and character-driven SF, as Jericho--in the face of Hollus's convincing arguments--grapples with his own bitter reasons for not believing in God. --Paul Hughes ... Read more

Customer Reviews (176)

4-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing
I thought this book was going to be much more religious in tone, but it was not (thankfully).As an avid sci-fi reader, what's refreshing about this book is the depth and emotion of the personal story.This is rare in today's space opera and sci-fi in general.

But on top of that, there was an interesting story line, with some pretty wild sci-fi stuff especially at the end.It's not the most believeable situation, i.e., an alien comes down to earth unannounced and very much under the rader after observing us for quite some time.I don't think that's how first contact would actually be made.But aside from that, the only other strange part of the book I didn't get is when they went to meet "God" at the end.In this case, if it was "God", and that's never clearly stated, why couldn't this being or entitiy - whatever you want to call it - come see us and the other aliens, and put us altogether for it's purposes?Why did the spiders have to go out to it??That part does not make any sense to me, but I guess it makes for interesting writing.

By the way, I do find the concept of Intelligent Design to be a very modern issue and I'm glad someone is trying to make sense of it using this medium.Good book overall.Not 5-star worthy, but good.

1-0 out of 5 stars I was promised an interesting story, I was given a cheap sermon
This book is basically two characters talking about whether or not God exists for a few hundred pages. Unfortunately it's done extremely poorly.

The smarter character, the alien, basically recites standard apologetics for the existence of a deistic god. If you ever spent a few hours on the internet you've already heard them all. Fine-tuning argument, irreducible complexity, etc. They are presented as tested and correct by the alien's more advanced science. The author is also apparently unaware of the standard atheistic replies, displaying that he never bothered researching past the point where he could comfortably declare his own theological views justified.

The dumber character, the human, is supposed to be an atheist. He is, at best, a straw-man atheist and one is led to believe the author has never met an actual atheist in real life. His part of the conversation is to bring up the weakest possible "objections" to god's existence and then quickly capitulate that the alien is always right.

This is especially pathetic when they discuss morality, as it's glaringly obvious the author has never read a serious book of ethical philosophy in his life. Not one that was published in the last 200 years anyway. Turns out the alien's morality is always correct because they can "feel it" better than humans can.

The worst part of all this is that the atheist isn't just a strawman, he's also a Scully Skeptic. The alien (with his advanced science and measurements) basically demonstrates the existence of a god-like-being in the first 10 pages of the book. Any real atheist at this point would say "Oh, yes, the universe was created by an intelligence. This is amazing! We should try to find out more about this creator being and contact it if possible!"The evidence is absolutely irrefutable and completely solid. And the book could have been amazing from that point on. But the "atheist" has to deny god for no reason, simply so the author can lay out sophomoric apologetics for the next few hundred pages. These apologetics DO NOT MATTER in the novel's world, because you don't need them when you have actual evidence! But this isn't supposed to be an interesting sci-fi novel. This is the authors attempt at evangelizing his reader in OUR world.

Eventually the atheist is convinced by the poor, leaky arguments of modern apologetics - rather than the physical evidence given in the very first chapter - because that's what the author wants people to do in the real world.

I was promised an interesting story, I was given a cheap Sunday sermon that isn't even aimed at the educated portion of the church.

1-0 out of 5 stars Deceptive
If ever there was a book that made me want to ask for my money back, this was it.
The story is just an excuse to promote Intelligent Design. It will throw at you the standard, pre-packaged arguments, and hope you are not knowledgeable or sophisticated enough to see that either they have already been debunked or they are plain wrong.
If you want an original, entertaining sci-fi story, this is not it, and if you want to educate yourself on the I.D. vs evolution controversy, pick up something more serious than this.

2-0 out of 5 stars One Dimensional and Cliched Characters Flaw an Intriguing Concept
There is a great amount of potential for the premise behind Calculating God.It creates an opportunity to discuss the nature of God in a scientific setting and explore and contrast the views of how scientists envision a creator and what that means.How does that relate, if at all to a spiritual view of God, or do we in fact live in a Godless universe as professed by Richard Dawkins.Unfortunately, the story is mainly butchered by cliches, an inability to develop characters or logical situations, and divergences into the author's personal indulgences and irrelevant petty political commentary on Canadian politics.

Sawyer pulls out every high school author's hackneyed plot device in an attempt to drive along the story and sympathy for the main character.His characters, and their lack of development or dimensions is embarrassing to read.In short, the director of the museum is of course a typical simple-minded bureaucrat who can't see the importance of science.He throws in the easy over the top southern US yahoo abortion clinic bombers, with little relevance to advancing the story line.Naturally, anytime the main character has an insight or a belief, anyone who has an opposing view must be an idiot.Sawyer tries to throw his 2 cents in, and by doing so only adds to his ignorance, about how supposedly Canadian Health care system is superior to the US.That's why Canadian ministers come to the US for advanced surgery I suppose.And 90% of the dialogue is expository and reads like a high school debate on creationism versus Darwinism.

Most of the sci-fi in Calculating God has been panned out and presented in a superior manner in many other novels.When Jericho, comes to the "revelation" that other species disappeared because they uploaded into computers, he acts like this is brilliant insight has never been covered or thought of.Sadly, Sawyer's inability in character development is a flaw that he furthers in his future books, including Hominods.

Sawyer does get some credit for a willingness to even attempt a topic as difficult and contraversial as this one.He even shows a willingness to show the arrogant and stubborn nature of both sides refusal to accept contrary evidence and surprisingly throws in a few comments about how even evolutionists can gloss over data and tell the masses to basically trust them because they are smarter and know better.Still even then, Saywer's voice, through the main character comes across once again as smug and all knowing attitude.As to the ending, well since Sawyer was found of bringing Star Trek into his novels, lets say it has the feel of Star Trek 5.To paraphrase, I almost expect one of the characters to say, "What does God need with our DNA?"

Finally, and more a knock on the editors, but how is a 9 year old novel still filled with typo's?Sawyer seems to know his paleontology well, he should stick to that field until he can create characters that have more than one dimension.

4-0 out of 5 stars A captivating read
While not necessarily agreeing with every argument presented, if find the book still to be to my liking with its not-too-predictable plot twists, characters I can relate to and the overall captivating flow of the narrative. If I had to compare it to something, I'd say the book has best elements from Samit Basu's Game World trilogy (the unpredictable twists, although not quite THAT much as Samit has managed to come up with) and the popular science material (with some fiction added, of course) of ... well, Robert J Sawjer. :) (Been through his FlashForward just recently as well and liked it almost as much as this one.) ... Read more

6. End of An Era
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 252 Pages (2001-10-19)
list price: US$17.99 -- used & new: US$7.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312876939
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Archaeologist Brandon Thackery and his rival Miles Klicks Jordan fulfill a dinosaur lovers dream with historys first time-travel jaunt to the late Mesozoic. Hoping to solve the extinction mystery, they find Earths gravity is only half of its 21st century value and encounter dinosaurs that are behaving very strangely. Could the slimy blue creatures from Mars have something to do with both? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (36)

5-0 out of 5 stars The single most audacious book I have ever read
I didn't know who Robert J. Sawyer was when I picked this book up; I did it on a whim. I was quickly impressed.

The writing is simple and streamlined. The pace is brisk. The characters are convincing and have some depth.

But the scope of the story is what did it for me. This is the single most audacious book I have ever read. Between the Martians, the interplanetary war, and the whole idea of dinosaurs-as-biological-tanks, this is a typical (albeit well written) piece of science fiction. At the end of the tunnel, though, pieces start clicking into place. When they do, you have no choice but to marvel at just how far the author reached and how well he executed it.

Don't get me wrong, End of An Era isn't perfect. As with pretty much any story I have read involving time travel, I feel unsatisfied by the paradoxes. The ending is a little too easy, as well, but I was too floored by the chutzpah of the whole thing to care.

Bottom line time: I have read this book several times and strongly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Imaginative--in parts mindblowing
This novel features strong characterization combined with fascinating speculation about the nature of life-forms, paleontology, and the nature of time and cause-and-effect.The author combines all of this into a crisp, fast-moving storyline that made this novel impossible to put down.While I did not buy some of his speculations (no one will) that did not make them any less fascinating.What would we find if we were able to go back in time 65 million years?This novel attempts to answer this question and more.I was afraid that this novel would turn out to be just another Jurassic Park, in which the protagonists are chased by Dinosaurs.Not so.

The Dinosaurs are an even greater enigma than most scientists like to admit, because there is good science behind the proposition that these creatures were simply too big to exist in Earth's present gravity.No terranic animals remotely the size of dinosaurs exist today, and the elephant appears to be at about the size limit that Earth's gravity will support.So how did the Dinosaurs come to be?This novel addresses this question as well.

The Kindle edition of this one is fine, with no pagination or other issues.This novel is an enjoyable read on the Kindle.

Overall, this one is a huge amount of fun for the reader willing to suspend his or her preexisting beliefs about the nature of reality.Highly recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars It was okay.
This was an enjoyable read, but not one of Sawyer's better stories. If you are a Sawyer fan already, check it out. If you haven't read much Sawyer yet, I'd reccomend trying a different title.

4-0 out of 5 stars A loopy solution to what caused dinosaur's end
This novel is obviously a joke by Robert J. Sawyer, a palaeontology scholar who know very well his dinos. Were the dinosaurs wiped out by a big bad Asteroid or by a giant volcanic eruption? Two scientists go with a time machine to investigate.The scenario they found is purposedly crazy andunlikely in the extreme: here the model of Sawier is the pulp sci-fi of the thirties, when the words "scientific plausibility" were still unknown, interpreted with today state of the art knowledge The resultis a masterpiece of zany imagination, and not to be taken as a serious hypothesis, of course. I loved it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I thought I had found all the worthwhile sci-fi writers, but obviously I haven't. I found Robert J. Sawyer by looking at all the Hugo and other award winners. That would sound easy enough, but not all the Hugo and other award winners write good books.

First off, RJS is a good writer, his books are easy to read and follow. They have a natural flow to them and it's not a chore to read them. Grisham is another writer like that.

The premise of this book is that a couple of scientists go back 65 million years ago to try and find out what killed the dinosaurs. I won't reveal the answer and you won't want me to but the answer will surpise you. Some of the reviewers here didn't like the answer, because that wasn't what they were looking for. How funny, in that case they should go find a time travel book with the answer they already like, it's like going to see a movie only if the ending is what they were expecting. I went in without any preconcieved notions and thought the "answer" was great, an out of the box one. I mean, it's sci-fi and anything goes, that's why we read these books right? We buy these books to read someone else's thoughts.

The only nit-pick I have with these books is the same with all other older sci-fi books: they all fail to predict the future. In the book's future, they have time travel, but no cell phones, no internet, no Blackberries, etc. But that's OK, it gives the book a "classic" feel and doesn't detract from it.

The characters were easy to like and fleshed out enough to make them interesting but not overly so because this is a sci-fi book, not drama. The writer could easily have expanded the book, explored some of the side stories a bit more. He opened those doors but did not get into them, leaving them unexplored.
(Spoiler here: He could have gone into the other timeline with Cheung more, he could have gone into more detail with the hets. The Cheung storyline/timeline was left pretty much unexplored - why were there 2 timelines and what happened to the other one? The het history was pretty much a 2 page treatment - granted this is not a het history book but he could have given it a chapter or two. And the rosette makers could have been explored too.)

So to summarize, I liked the book because like all RJS books, they are easy to read and follow and I really liked the storyline here, a little short maybe but definitely recommended. ... Read more

7. Flashforward
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 320 Pages (2009-09-01)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$4.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 076532413X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

The basis for the hit ABC TV series and the Aurora Award-winning novel that started it all!


Two minutes and seventeen seconds that changed the world

Suddenly, without warning, all seven billion people on Earth black out for more than two minutes. Millions die as planes fall from the sky, people tumble down staircases, and cars plow into each other.

But that’s the least of the survivors’ challenges. During the blackout, everyone experienced a glimpse of what his or her future holds—and the interlocking mosaic of these visions threatens to unravel the present.
Amazon.com Review
What would you do if you got a glimpse of your own personalfuture and it looked bleak? Try to change things, or accept that thefuture is unchangeable and make the best of it? InFlashforward, Nobel-hungry physicists conducting anunimaginably high-energy experiment accidentally induce a globalconsciousness shift. In an instant, everyone on Earth is "flashedforward" 21 years, experiencing several minutes of the future. Butwhile everyone is, literally, out of their minds, their bodies dropunconscious; when the world reawakens, car wrecks, botched surgeries,falls, and other mishaps add up to massive death and destruction.

Slowly, as recovery efforts continue, people realize that during the Flashforward (as it comes to be called) they experienced a vision of the future. The range of visions is astounding--those who would be asleep in the future saw psychedelic dream landscapes, while others saw nothing at all (presumably they'd be dead). But those who saw everyday life 20 years hence have to come to grips with evidence of dreams forsaken (or realized). Soon, the physicists who caused the Flashforward are struggling to help the world decide whether the future is changeable--and whether the experiment is worth repeating. Robert J. Sawyer has captured a truly compelling idea with Flashforward, and he fully explores what such an event might mean to humanity. Fans will find this to be his best work to date, although the ending seems rushed after a detailed buildup. --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Customer Reviews (141)

4-0 out of 5 stars Flash Forward
Flash Forward by Robert J. Sawyer

I purchased this book because I really got into the television series that was based upon it.The book is really good.However, if you are looking for answers to the prematurely canceled series, you will not find them in this book.The series was very loosely based on the book and there are a lot of differences.For instance, the FBI appears nowhere in the book and there is no big conspiracy such as was in the series.That said, the book is very interesting and well written.It was my first experience with Robert Sawyer and I did purchase it because I wanted to see how the series ended.To that extent, I was disappointed but I liked the book enough to read another book written by Robert Sawyer.That's a big deal for me as I tend to be pretty finicky about who I read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Your flashforward? Not buying the book.
The story starts off strong, mainly because of the premise only, but the author EPICALLY FAILS at delivering a coherent end to this story. Reading the book felt reading the writing of a sane person slowly devolving into insanity (or doing some crazy drugs) whilst writing the book. Seriously. The latter half of the book is awful. You're better off taking the idea (everyone in the world blacks out and sees a vision of the future) and using your imagination. Trust me, it'll be a better story.

2-0 out of 5 stars TV show was much better
Was a boring read after watching the short lived tv series.When the book finally reaches the ending, you can't believe that's all he could come up with.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not like the TV show
I read the book after having watched the first season of this show (which should not have been canceled). Unlike the TV show, the major characters in the book are all physicists, not FBI agents, but this does not lessen the excitement of the story. The discussion around and description of CERN are very good. Sawyer has a way of incorporating current science into his science fiction that will have the curious reader eager to learn more about whatever subject Sawyer is writing about. For those less interested in science, these parts of the book might drag. The characters were developed very well and the story moved at a quick pace for the most part. However, the story did get bogged down in several places with discussions between the characters about free will, although the more philosophical reader will probably like this. Without giving anything away, in some ways the ending is disappointing, although the book is still worth reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Concept
I got the book so I could try to extrapolate howTV Series might have ended.It turns out that the TV Series is too much different from the book.First, let me say there probably wasn't any thought put into writing a good ending or an ending at all.What TV producers and writers are interested in, is making a compelling show that keeps you coming back next week.They don't want it to end and it never will end if viewers keep coming back.Daytime Soaps are a good example of this.A TV series with an ending is call a "Minnie Series".A good ending for Fashforward was probably never in the cards and if it was, they should have probably tried to convince viewers of it. I think a lot of viewers stayed away or left early because they were burned by "Lost".In hind sight, that was a good move. The best strategy for TV series, is to wait until it over and if it's good, rent the DVD's.

Now to the book.I would have loved it if I hadn't seen the TV series.The "Flash Forward" idea was a brilliant concept by Robert J. Sawyer.And I really enjoyed pondering all of the ramifications.But since I was exposed to it first by the TV Series, the WOW factor was all used up. So the first part of the book was a rehash of what I already knew.The next problem with the book (for someone who saw the series) is the book has fewer characters anda straight forward story, where as the screen play adapted Sawyers wonderful Flash Forward idea into a much richer story with many more characters and multiple story lines.It may sound like I'm panning the book, but I'm not.Once I got into it and I really enjoyed the read and couldn't put it down.And Sawyers story has a very interesting ending.I sure wish I had read the book and before the TV series.As long as I'm wishing.I wish someone would take the TV Series and write a good ending and make it into a movies or a 5 or 6 hour "Mini-Series".

... Read more

8. Far-Seer: Book One of the Quintaglio Ascension (Sawyer, Robert J. Quintaglio Ascension, Bk. 1.)
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 320 Pages (2004-05-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$4.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765309742
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The Face of God is what every young saurian learns to call the immense, glowing object which fills the night sky on the far side of the world. Young Afsan is privileged, called to the distant Capital City to apprentice with Saleed the court astrologer.Buth when the time comes for Afsan to make his coming-of-age pilgrimage, to gaze upon the Face of God, his world is changed forever- for what he sees will test his faith... and may save his world from disaster!
... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sawyer at his best
Before this, I've read everything of Sawyer's except the Quintaglio Trilogy and "End of an Era". Despite the fact that this is one of his older novels, it's every bit as good as his others. If you like Sawyer, you'll like this book, even if you're not dinosaur-crazy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun mix of science and adventure (Gretchen in Weslaco, Texas)
From other reviews I expected this to be a parable about science and religion replaying the discoveries of Galileo and other early scientists.The book exceeded my expectations because of the clever way that it would start an obviously familiar storyline and make me assume I knew where it was going.Partway through I would notice that the observations of the scientists were not quite what I expected, and then the familiar story would have an unfamiliar ending.Neither the scientific truths being uncovered nor the religious beliefs they conflict with are identical to the historical version.Unfortunately, it sounds like the back of the print version had very detailed spoilers.I was glad I got to figure things out along with the Quintaglios.
This book also had a lot of exciting action and adventure sequences.It was mostly very lighthearted in tone until some darker turns near the end.The main character was very likeable and innocent, giving a true sense of wonder and excitement to his discoveries.A large cast of colorful characters provided plenty of humor.

5-0 out of 5 stars A PAGE-TURNER!
Far-Seer is the first book of the Quintaglio trilogy.In it Robert J. Sawyer delivers a fast-paced science fiction adventure among the Quintaglios -- intelligent, bipedal dinosaurs.The hero is adolescent Afsan, an apprentice astrologer and Galileo-like figure in Quintalio society.Afsan risks life and limb hunting colossal dinosaurs and sailing the sea of his alien world.

Along the way he learns about himself, his society and his world's true place in the universe.His commitment to the truth brings him into perilous conflict with the theocracy and entangles him with a revolutionary pagan underground.And he falls in love, too.

It's a coming-of-age story, but ultimately the stakes couldn't be higher -- not just for Afsan -- but the Quintaglios' entire world.

Besides Afsan you'll meet an intimidating master astrologer, a brave ship's captain, a cruel high priest, and Afsan's best friend, a gluttonous prince named Dy-Dybo.There are others, and they all have suitably weird alien names.

The Far-Seer is a telescope Afsan uses.It's a relatively new technology as the Quintaglios are at level of technical development approximating the Rennaisance.Of course, it probably also refers to the forward-thinking Afsan himself.

Readers of Sawyer's also excellent Neanderthal series (which begins with Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax)) will recognize many familiar themes:Rationality versus mysticism, paleontology, alternative social approaches to family and reprodction, etc.

Obviously I liked this book a lot.If you're looking for solid science fiction action with thought-provoking themes, you will too.

5-0 out of 5 stars A scaly allegory of science in conflict with faith
Despite being a fan of Robert Sawyer's thought-provoking sci-fi, I wasn't anxious to read Far-Seer, the first book of the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy. It's not that I have anything against dinosaurs ... even the ones who talk and are capable of figuring out the complexities of their solar system without so much as a pocket calculator.

My reluctance had more to do with having read and enjoyed Harry Harrison's alternative history in which dinosaurs evolved intelligence in the trilogy that began with West of Eden. That series was such a stupendous feat of world building that I was afraid any book with a similar premise would pale in comparison.

As it turns out I needn't have worried. Harrison's books remain a monumental achievement in designing a completely logical world around the question of what if dinosaurs had never died off. Sawyer, on the other hand, turns his tale into an allegory of one of his favorite topics: the conflict between science and faith.

Apprentice astrologer Afsan, our reptilian stand-in for Galileo, Copernicus and a host of other great minds, makes a startling discovery while on a pilgrimage. Like Galileo, Afsan discovers that his world is not the center of the universe. He also discovers that his home world is becoming unstable and won't last long before it's pulled apart by the planet it orbits. Rather than earning fame with his discovery, Afsan finds infamy. His discovery puts him at odds with the unyielding doctrine of the church. His findings are labeled heresy and Afsan is called a "demon."

OK, so it's a little unrealistic to have a single character make all the scientific observations and conclusions that Afsan makes in a single boat voyage, but Sawyer's book is more a parable than an effort to develop a completely realized world down to an atomic level. I was able to set back and let the Great River of the dinosaurs' world take me where it would, safe in the knowledge that I was in the hands of a master storyteller.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another great book in the series.
RJS is one of my favorite authors...

Well written, and interesting read.

MJL ... Read more

9. Fossil Hunter: Book Two of The Quintaglio Ascension (Quintaglio Trilogy)
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 304 Pages (2005-03-01)
list price: US$17.99 -- used & new: US$4.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765309734
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Fossil Hunter is hard SF in the tradition of Larry Niven about a world inhabited by the Quintaglios, a dinosaurian species that has evolved a human level of intelligence and culture.

Toroca, a Quintaglio geologist, is under attack for his controversial new theory of evolution. But the origins of his people turn out to be more complex than even he imagined, for he soon discovers the wreckage of an ancient starship -- a relic of the aliens who transplanted Earth's dinosaurs to this solar system. Now, Toroca must convince Emperor Dybo that evolution is true; otherwise, the territorial violence the Quintaglios inherited from their tyrannosaur ancestors will destroy the last survivors of Earth's prehistoric past.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
Robert J. Sawyer is a master at creating interesting characters and weaving an intriguing story-line.Excellent book.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Trilogy Continues
I had finished book one, the fireplace was going, and my cat was asleep on my lap. What to do? Order book two of course. A minute later it was on my Kindle without even waking up the cat. (I think Kindle will do for readers what the remote did for TV watchers: turn us into couch potatoes.)

I'm only half way through right now, and so far, it's as engrossing as book "Far Seer" was. My only complaint is that the Kindle edition has a lot of typos (I've found about 10 so far). Lots of mixups between "f", "t", and "!", and between "o" and "e". It's almost as if the Kindle edition had been OCRed from the paper edition, although I've never looked at the latter to confirm this. Hence, only 4 stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars Engaging but slightly flawed sequel (Gretchen in Weslaco, Texas)
The reason I gave this book one less star than Farseer is because starting quite early in Fossil Hunter we are given a God's eye view, or near enough, into what's really going on.I loved Robert Sawyer's exploration of science and faith in Calculating God, but sudden revelations that none of the Quintaglios are privy to are out of place in this book.If the existence of a godlike being is a fact of the Quintaglioverse, then the trail of evidence should lead us step by step to that fact and we should discover it at the same time as the Quintaglios do.
In the plus column, I enjoyed catching up with some beloved characters a generation later.Many characters and relationships gained interesting new dimensions.A shocking revelation from the first book was explored in detail in this one.This book really explores how Quintaglio culture and psychology differ from our own.I found it thought provoking about how much human morality and civilization are based on the biological facts of mammalian reproduction.Given the same level of intelligence, could reptiles ever arrive at the same beliefs about the worth of the individual?Should they?

5-0 out of 5 stars Another favorite by a favorite.
RJS is one of my favorite authors..

I like it. And the other books in the series as well..


5-0 out of 5 stars Read the series
I read this many years ago,[volume one [Far Seer]] and loved it . Gave it to my son who was about 12 at the time and he still talks about it - he is 26 now! [It's the only Si-Fi he has read.] When I stumbled across the next two books recently [Not sure if they were even written back then!] I was thrilled and bought them instantly. Devoured them in a couple days and was very happy. They are as good as the origional, and my son is reading them now and agrees. Excellent reading for all ages! ... Read more

10. Hybrids (Neanderthal Parallax)
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 400 Pages (2010-09-28)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$6.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765326345
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

This is the climactic book of Robert J. Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. Torn between two worlds, geneticist Mary Vaughan and Neanderthal physicist Ponter Boddit struggle to find a way to make their relationship work. Aided by banned Neanderthal technology, they plan to conceive the first hybrid child, a symbol of hope for the peaceful coexistence of two versions of reality.

But after an experiment shows that Mary's religious faith--something completely absent among Neanderthals--is a quirk of Homo sapiens neurology, Ponter and Mary must decide whether their child should be predisposed to atheism or belief. Meanwhile, as Mary's Earth faces the impending collapse of its planetary magnetic field, Mary's boss, the enigmatic Jock Krieger, has turned envious eyes on the unspoiled Eden of the Neanderthal world.

In Hybrids, Sawyer concludes his signature speculations about alternative ways to be human, exploding our preconceptions of morality and gender, faith and love.
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Customer Reviews (48)

1-0 out of 5 stars Really bad ... not evolution but devolution of what could have been a good trilogy
"Hybrids" is the third novel in Robert J. Sawyer's trilogy dealing with the encounter between Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthals from an alternate universe."Hominids," the first novel in the series, was truly excellent, with vibrant speculations about the nature of reality, consciousness, and quantum theory.Unfortunately it is downhill from there. The middle novel of the series, "Humans," suffers from all of the usual shortfalls of a bad sequel. "Hybrids" is just plain awful.The storyline is trite, stereotypic, implausible, and at times flat-out revolting.During Law School I heard enough pap about how awful those White Males are to last a lifetime.In this novel Sawyer tries to administer a force-feeding of it, and few readers will be able to get it down.I can handle some political axe-grinding in a novel, if the novel is good.This novel is not good.I finished it because I wanted to finish the series, but really, this novel is not worth the reader's attention.Not recommended.RJB.

3-0 out of 5 stars Numerous Translation Errors in Kindle Edition
Book was a good read, but I wanted to note for Kindle buyers that there were numerous translation errors in the Kindle edition.Typical examples are missing punctuation and words mistranslated, such as calling Ponter's companion "Halt" instead of "Hak" (this is a common OCR error, though I don't know how Kindle books are actually translated into electronic form).

It wasn't a major detraction but caveat emptor just the same.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good summer fare
Alittle thin on the story line. Events like those written about, an exchange of a neandethal with another universe, would not be contained in a backwoods Canadian village,

1-0 out of 5 stars Great book, truly great, as were the other two in the series
so why one star?to draw someone's attention to the fact that the silly moron responsible for the book's design chose to use page numbers that are indistinguishable from one another.

4-0 out of 5 stars Finishing the trilogy
This is the third book in Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. In this book Ponter Boddit and his homo sapien lover, geneticist Mary Vaughan are trying to sort out how they can make their relationship work between their parallel worlds. With some of the Neanderthal technology they are planning to conceive the first hybrid child. Hybrid provides a satisfying conclusion to the tale. It also provides much for thought regarding gender, selective breeding, looking through jaded eyes at an unspoiled world ... Read more

11. Mindscan
by Robert J. Sawyer
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2005)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765349752
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Robert J. Sawyer's Hominids, the first volume of his bestselling Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, won the 2003 Hugo Award, and its sequel, Humans, was a 2004 Hugo nominee. Now he's back with a pulse-pounding, mind-expanding standalone novel, rich with his signature philosophical and ethical speculations, all grounded in cutting-edge science.
Jake Sullivan has cheated death: he's discarded his doomed biological body and copied his consciousness into an android form. The new Jake soon finds love, something that eluded him when he was encased in flesh: he falls for the android version of Karen, a woman rediscovering all the joys of life now that she's no longer constrained by a worn-out body either.
But suddenly Karen's son sues her, claiming that by uploading into an immortal body, she has done him out of his inheritance. Even worse, the original version of Jake, consigned to die on the far side of the moon, has taken hostages there, demanding the return of his rights of personhood. In the courtroom and on the lunar surface, the future of uploaded humanity hangs in the balance.
Mindscan is vintage Sawyer -- a feast for the mind and the heart.
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Customer Reviews (34)

4-0 out of 5 stars A good, thought provoking read
This is the first book I've read of Robert Sawyers's and I'll be reading many more.If you like an Science Fiction author that does rigorous research into an interesting topic, packages ideas from that research into an original, entertaining and thought provoking story, then includes references at the end of the book should you want to explore more, then you'll enjoy this book.For the last third of the book I couldn't put the book down.Highly recommended.

2-0 out of 5 stars Great idea, poor execution. Author not as clever as he thinks he is.
Mindscan has a great idea at its core in exploring the Philip K Dick theme of "What it means to be human" in the context of copying one's mind to an android and then discussing which one is more real but it falls well short, especially as compared to Dick, in the execution department. The first third of the book is great but then it proceeds to fall apart.The story becomes a long diatribe/essay in which the author isn't nearly as clever as he thinks he is.In fact, I found his tone insulting.If you read the afterward and the about the author, this is consistent with him overestimating himself.Don't get me wrong, the idea of the book is great but the execution of the last 2/3rds of the book as a story isn't.It isn't believable and the logic is quite faulty.


Here are some examples of the logic being weak and the "clever" not being clever.

Definition of the start of life, and therefore the definition of an individual, being when the potential for multiplicity ends.This is pretty funny given the central idea of Immortex being able to copy minds.This would mean that when the Mindscan process came on line that all humans ceased to be individuals as the potential for multiplicity would now exist for all humans.Since this is one of the central arguments in the trial, the story isn't self consistent.

Idea that Karen wasn't the real Karen and therefore couldn't have her estate would have been easily dealt with ahead of time and so probate would never be an issue.With that much money involved, you can be sure it wouldn't have been left up to "just happening".To cover the bases, simple estate planning could have easily set things up such that in the event of the death of the biological body that a foundation would be set up to benefit the "copy".I know it wouldn't have made for an interesting story, but the suspension of disbelief was just too much.

The last part, of sending the "consciousness", didn't really wrap up the story or make sense.It was painfully obvious it was shoe horned in for the Author to communicate one last cool idea.Once again, the idea was cool but it didn't help the story.In fact, it added more to inconsistency.The idea that the copies could communicate with each other due to the quantum entanglement was stretched very thin by this point.After 100+ years, the relationship in the networks between Jake and a newly brought on line consciousness would be almost non-existent.Since the link only exists at bringup due to the similarity (according to the author) it actually wasn't even self consistent within the book as Jake ever linking makes no sense as he has progressed past bringup himself.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Thoughtful Future
MINDSCAN (published April 2005) is the third SF book I have read by Robert J. Sawyer.The others, ROLLBACK (2007) and WWW: WAKE (2009) I gave four stars out of five to - MINDSCAN in my view merits five.

I'm taken by a basic structural uniqueness in the novel.It is written in the first person, I, not We, but, how to say it, "I-plural".Through fictional science this can be done.I loved it.When a person is mindscanned by the Immortex Corporation it's a little bit like the multiple universe theory where an individual's timeline splits (most likely) at decision points.

There's another novel basic I liked.The plot is wicked virtuous and despite the very best foreshadowing, surprising.

The Canada - U.S. dichotomy is well played.Set in the short term future (SF-wise that is, mainly the year 2045), the US of A has gone way right, a projection of the Bush-Cheney era when the book was written, and Canada, which even today (September 2009) for example with national health insurance and low cost prescription drugs, has gone further left.It makes for an entertaining backdrop to an engaging story.

5-0 out of 5 stars An enthralling existential drama
This book is awesome, at par with Philip K. Dick weirdest novels.Jake Sullivan's man's soul is divided:an uploaded consciousness inhabits an artificial body, whilst the supposedly dooomed original is whisked on a nursing home on the other face of the moon. Only, the brain vessel condition that affected Jake,and that killed his father in an oedipal scene, turns out tho be curable...too late! Meanwhile, the uploaded Jake , the "Mindscan", found love and company in a rellw uploaded, the writer Karen, who's sued by a son reclaiming his inheritance, This truly kafkian sityation is narrated matter-of-factly, as Asimov would, and it makes for a strange reading indeed, like a lucid, weird dream. What's a man's soul, and can it be made truly immortal? What if the soul is something different? And what if there IS more than one soul?
I really liket this profound, touching novel, and if there's a flaw, it's in the somewhat uncalled for violent denouement on the Moon. But everything else is perfect! I recommend it!

4-0 out of 5 stars Strong storyline ... Average Characters
The strengths of Sawyer's novels have been the combination of strong, science fiction storylines coupled with complex characters.

Unfortunately, MINDSCAN, fails on the latter point.

The premise has been discussed at length, so there's no need to cover ground that other reviewers have described.

But, if you're interested in consciousness and the philosophical debate about the existence of a soul, then you should find this novel quite enjoyable.

The characters, on the other hand, were not very enjoyable.
Despite Sawyer's own words admonishing writers who intrude upon the narrative with soapbox issues, I couldn't help but feel that the characters of Jacob and Karen reflected Sawyer's own feelings with respect to liberal politics and intellectual property.

There's certainly nothing wrong with a protagonist with liberal political views; nor is there anything wrong with one who's a strong advocate of artists' rights.

The problem with this novel is that there is no balance.The protagonist has no sympathetic counterpart (e.g., a well-meaning, politically conservative or moderate character).

All that being said, this novel is very educational.
That, combined with the "page-turning" trial scene, make this novel well worth the read.

And be sure to spend some time with Sawyer's appendix, which describes his research sources for consciousness studies.

I'll give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars and "round up." ... Read more

12. Rollback
by Robert J. Sawyer
Mass Market Paperback: 320 Pages (2008-02-05)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765349744
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Dr. Sarah Halifax decoded the first-ever radio transmission received from aliens. Thirty-eight years later, a second message is received and Sarah, now 87, may hold the key to deciphering this one, too . . . if she lives long enough.
A wealthy industrialist offers to pay for Sarah to have a rollback—a hugely expensive experimental rejuvenation procedure. She accepts on condition that Don, her husband of sixty years, gets a rollback, too. The process works for Don, making him physically twenty-five again. But in a tragic twist, the rollback fails for Sarah, leaving her in her eighties.
While Don tries to deal with his newfound youth and the suddenly vast age gap between him and his wife, Sarah struggles to do again what she’d done once before: figure out what a signal from the stars contains.
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Customer Reviews (50)

5-0 out of 5 stars Rollback
Most excellent addition to the Robert J. Sawyer roster. I haven't read a more satisfying author in YEARS!

1-0 out of 5 stars Where to start
Much like Hominids the author takes a potentially fascinating topic and layers on the preaching, politics, and opinions.And not in a good way.

A good author can make a story tell deeper issues where a reader joins the conclusions independently.Not so with Rollback.The cognitive dissonance is strong with this one.Capitalism and wealth are obvious evils as made patently clear.Canadian social health care and universities are the model.Yet when serious discoveries need to be made in the story all of a sudden private hospitals have an appearance.

When the ability of a private company to produce the technological marvel of rolling back a person's age are discussed in a social sense it is all about the evils of profits and somehow with-holding the technology from mankind.Yet when the particulars of the procedure are discussed it is amazing that such a thing would cost so little.Take the example of private space flight being done today.A few wealthy pioneers are leading the way.

Character development is weak at best.Characters are brought on stage to further the preaching and kicked off with zero development.The primary mover of the story (Cody McGavin) steps in and pays the bills and moves back to the wings.What is his story? Why is he motivated to spend several billion dollars to roll back the ages of two octogenarians?No real reason, the story needed a checkbook, and thus he was.

Sarah and Don are the main characters.Don is supposed to be the good person with whom the reader relates.He ends up as a self centered ass.He is essentially given the gift of youth and somehow has trouble finding employment.

I personally had to put too much of what I think of how the world works aside to even enjoy this work.

5-0 out of 5 stars WOW WOW !!
First let me say that I hate Sci FiBut what a ride this book is. It as good as Carl Sagan`s Contact! if mot better I I`m a fan of Robert Sawyer now .

1-0 out of 5 stars Boring
I slogged through this in its serialized form.I kept hoping the plot would actually go somewhere interesting but it never did.Conflicts between characters that could have (and should have) grown into major grudges got resolved way too easily.The story revolves around aliens, yet doesn't actually bring them in until the epilogue, and only in brief there.Most of the story really focuses on the protagonist and his faults and failings, yet by the end of the book you really don't get the sense that he actually learned or changed in any sense.

4-0 out of 5 stars As always, Sawyer delivers a compelling novel
"Rollback" is the second Robert Sawyer novel I've read (though I'm also a big fan of the TV version of "Flash Forward") so I don't have anywhere near the exposure to Sawyer's writing to make an informed generalization about the author.Still, from the two novels I have read so far I have enjoyed how Sawyer's science fiction seems to root itself in the relatively familiar. In both "Calculating God" and "Rollback," the exposition or set up of the novel is OUR world, and those living in it are like us.It is within this framework that the extraordinary happens, and that makes what follows---the "what if?" factor--refreshingly believable.

In "Calculating God," a museum paleontologist in Toronto is one of a small group of people lucky enough to host alien visitors in their search for the proof of the existence of God.What follows is a compelling, challenging, and thoroughly enjoyable story, but I don't want to ruin it for anybody.

In "Rollback," Dr. Sarah Halifax, a scientist who was able to decode the first alien transmission our world ever received, is recruited once again when that same alien civilization sends another transmission almost 40 years later.This second transmission is even more difficult to decipher than the last, and once again they turn to Dr. Halifax.The only problem?She's almost 90, and her health is, as one might guess, an issue.

So a Bill Gates/Richard Branson-millionaire type is willing to treat her to an outrageously expensive procedure (for his economic benefit, natch).Called a "rollback," it will restore Dr. Halifax to the condition she was in when she was a 25 year old.She agrees, as long as her husband Don receives a rollback, too, but herein lies the problem: it succeeds for him, but not for her.So now the clock is ticking: what will happen to their once-solid marriage, and can our heroine decipher the message before she dies?

This is both the strength and the weakness of the story.While the "deadline" (sorry for the pun) and the difference in their ages supply the story with a degree of suspense, I found the storyline a bit heavy on melodrama and a bit weak on the "aha" factor I usually enjoy so much in science fiction.Still, it is NOT poorly done...I did indeed find myself emotionally involved enough to make the story rewarding, but I didn't feel this novel really made use of Sawyer's compelling intellect.

One of the reasons I read sci-fi is that when it's done well it's a head trip; it asks as much of my intellect as it does my heart.Sure, I need to care about the characters, and the story must be rooted in something recognizable: it needs a hook to pull me in.But one-half of sci-fi is "science," and I felt slightly short-sheeted here.

An example can be found in the original message the aliens sent: we never really get to read it...we're told about it, and there is an intriguing section where Sawyer begins to treat us to some of the deductions our heroine makes in order to solve it, but just at the deciphering starts to fascinate, it's over. Likewise, when the second transmission arrives we don't really get to see any of that message, either.We read about it, but we don't witness it.

I should probably mention that I've twice referred to the scientist/wife as the "heroine."Dr. Halifax does essentially perform the "heroic" acts here, but she is not the protagonist: that role goes to her husband Don.The story is told in third person, but is really through his eyes that we gain our view, and this is of great significance, for we are limited AND freed by it.While we are not able to see the transmission through Dr. Halifax's eyes, which would certainly open the decoding process to us in much greater detail, we do get to see the rollback experience through Don's.Later, when an important decision concerning morality has to be made, Sarah entrusts it to her husband, and this is a compelling choice, for we know that his morality is now damaged goods, and that renders the choice she makes to be an ennobled one, for reasons that will become clear when you read the novel.

As usual, there are things Sawyer does exceedingly well here. Given the chance, I think most people would leap at the opportunity to "rollback" our own lives and be young again.Most readers, moviegoers, and television watchers are all aware of what those who tell these tales tend to do with this subject, but Sawyer does avoid the clichés.Certainly there must be some drawbacks to it--and indeed some of those are depicted here--but the experience has to have advantages, too, and Sawyer looks at those as well.To be sure, one can assume there are going to be difficulties when a husband becomes young again and a wife remains elderly, and those are delineated here, but as this is a extremely unlikely occurrence that I doubt will affect any member of the reading public anytime soon, I appreciated Sawyer's restraint at making too much of it here.It presents a problem, of course, but the story is not saturated with it.

Where I felt this novel was strongest was in its investigation of ethical concerns, not only in the rollback, but in regard to other areas as well.If we ARE indeed contacted by aliens at some point, how are we to respond, and who will control those responses?Should we let governments control the dialogue?What are we to do with the knowledge we gain?What dilemmas will occur that we haven't even considered yet, and how will we resolve them?

I've been asked more than once whether this work is like "Contact," authored by Carl Sagan.It is NOT, and I want to emphasize that.In fact, one thing I enjoyed is that Sawyer seemed to be aware of these comparisons, and has a little fun with mentioning not only that book, but also "Star Trek IV" (the one with the whales), and other works as well.Sure, there are some similarities, but this is a markedly different work from those, and is much more personal.

I am looking forward to reading more of Sawyer's works.I think he's a really clever writer with a great mind, and I can see he not only likes to tackle challenging questions, but he's also patient enough to take his time determining how these situations might be resolved.I am looking forward to looking into what seems to be a pretty significant list of novels he's written.

Does anyone out there want to suggest what Sawyer novel I should start next? ... Read more

13. Wake (Www Trilogy)
by Robert J. Sawyer
Hardcover: 356 Pages (2009-04-14)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$11.41
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0041T4Q7Y
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"One of the foremost science fiction writers of our generation"(SF Site) comes to Ace with a trilogy of the Web's awakening.

Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math-and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something-some other-lurking in the background. And it's getting more and more intelligent with each passing day... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (48)

5-0 out of 5 stars WWW: Wake
From an author who has written a number of books and has won just about every award a science fiction author can, comes one of the most original and fascinating novels to be published in a long time.It's one of those books that has just as much right to be on a fiction shelf with other literature classics. Wake is the first in a trilogy about a blind girl, Caitlin Decter, who undergoes new and theoretical surgery in Japan to bring back her sight.With an implant in one eye, signals are sent to a small machine via Bluetooth, which Caitlin refers to as her "eyepod."Patches and downloads for the software for the eyepod are made online, as Caitlin returns to Canada.With a new patch, she begins to see something that is not real life.She soon realizes it's a view of the Internet through a browser though she has no control over what she's seeing.Then with another patch update, Caitlin begins to see through the eye with the implant and her life is changed.Yet there is still something on the Internet that is apparently alive, communicating with her at first through her restricted sight and then online with her, and it's intelligence is growing rapidly.The book ends at this point, along with something very strange going on in a China, and an ape who is somehow able to paint pictures of people.

Wake is a book that will grow on you as you read it.Sawyer has done a fantastic job of researching the science, but also throws in lots of references that any savvy Internet user will recognize, appreciate, and be amused by; as well as putting the readers in the mind of a blind person and how they do the amazing things they do each day.By the end of the book readers will be impatiently wanting the sequel, Watch, due out in 2010.

Originally written on April 16th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For more book reviews and exclusive author interviews, go to [...].

4-0 out of 5 stars An visionary exploration of consciousness
Based on an interesting theory outlined in Julian Jaynes book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind", this entertaining story of a blind adolescent girl's discovery of her new vision skills after research 'surgery' is reasonably fast paced and I found it hard to put the book down.While the premises for the novel are somewhat contrived (eye surgery in which the optic nerve is interrupted to correct the coding without cutting it and vision restoration in a girl blind from birth - but in which conveniently the vision centres of the brain have been exercised appropriately in a rare occurrence), the plot is cleverly executed and supported by a suite of interesting characters.The author convincingly describes life without vision and if you find this interesting, then I can recommend a real life story of someone that recovered their sight after being blinded as a youngster in Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See.

A thought provoking and entertaining read - in my opinion the essential ingredients of a good Science Fiction story.I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.

WWW:Wake and its follow up WWW: Watch should not be listed as science fiction only. It should be included as Inspirational and any other category that would allow perspective readers to know how life changing this book is/has been for me. It may not be Sawyer's "usual" as one reviewer wrote, and I've never written a review before, however this book is as important and inspirational to me as Helen Keller's Biography.It may be fiction, but it helped me realize I have choices in life and well I am not articulate enough to express how this book (and it follow up WWW:Watch) has changed my life and my outlook towards it.More importantly to people who may be looking for an excellent book(s) to read (and have limited income like myself) WWW:Wake is money well spent in so many ways...most importantly to a reader than my own "awakening" after reading this is that once you start this book you will not be able to put it down.Having never written a review before I just want to say you will not be disappointed in Robert Sawyer's WWW:Wake and its follow up WWW:Watch.I am almost through with WWW:Watch and my Kindle says I am 95% through it and the thought of not having another WWW:? to immediately follow up on is my only disappointment (but WWW:Watch came out recently so I guess I shouldn't expect Mr. Sawyer to "pump" another out so fast).Again, you will not be disappointed in these books...and they are not the "usual" science fiction genre! These are books even someone who never buy's a science fiction book will not be able to set it down until the end!

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Good But Very Heavy on the Science Part of Sci-Fi
This is the first installment of Sawyer's WWW trilogy.I think he adopted a more leisurely pace in this book from his usual one because he knew that he could develop the entire book over three volumes.It may have been a lot tighter had he known he had to deliver the entire idea in one book.This is very similar to what Connie Willis is doing with her BLACKOUT series.Both have a pacing problem.And Sawyer's gives me way too much science information, almost like a textbook.So is this as good as my favorite novel of his, FACTORING HUMANITY?No, it is not.

The plot is as follows: Blind teen girl, Caitlin Decter, gets an implant that is supposed to fix her blindness.However, what she can do after the implant is see the infrastructure of the World Wide Web and then interact with an entity which lives inside of it.She becomes a teacher to this entity just as Annie Sullivan did to Helen Keller (the book's analogy) and radically expands its consciousness, knowledge and ability to communicate.There are dangling plot elements strewn throughout the book which I imagine are being laid as foundations for the other two books.There is also a big hint throughout that American Intelligence agencies will get very interested in both Caitlin and the entity. in future volumes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Positive and intelligent
Once again the creator of Flash Forward gives a new, more intelligent and personal account of an emerging personality in the world.If you want to understand consciousness and game theory, and be involved with unapologetically intelligent positive people and apes immerse yourself in this wonderful future world. I cannot wait for the last book of the trilogy. ... Read more

14. Starplex
by Robert J Sawyer
Paperback: 304 Pages (2010-09-15)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0889954445
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

The Aurora Award-winning science fiction novel, Starplex, is back in print! Human space exploration has expanded quickly over the last twenty years as they have made use of newly discovered artificial worm-holes. No one knows who created them, and they bring the far-reaches of the galaxy tantalizingly close.

Discovery, however, is outstripping understanding, and when an unknown vessel – a ship with no windows, seams or visible means of propulsion – arrives, the already battle-scarred Starplex could be the starting point of an interstellar war…

... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

1-0 out of 5 stars Weak "hard SF"
I found the book to be weak and poorly written.It is full of premises and SF ideas, but what it's lacking is a story.Robert Sawyer just doesn't do a good job of entertaining with an interesting story -- all there is here is the "gee whiz" factor.

The characters are two-dimensional, at best; many of them have no personality at all.There is the wife (who does not seem to have any other personality); the attractive young chick (who has no personality); oh, and the aliens.But even the aliens are boring.And the characters have little personal arc.

Personally, when I look for a good book, I look have characters who you'd enjoy spending time with, or at least who come alive.This book doesn't have that. I also look for an entertaining, "keeps you on the edge of your seat" plot.This book doesn't have that, either; the plot is rather boring.

So overall I'd classify this as a pretty poor book.If you like hard SF and like the "gee whiz" aspect, and don't expect anything more, you might enjoy it.But if you're looking for a good story, look elsewhere.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good read
RJS is another one of my favorite authors...

I can't wait for the new internet trilogy to come out.


3-0 out of 5 stars Not on Sawyer's "A" list!
I have nothing but praise for Sawyer and I find him one of the best Science Fiction writers ever!However, this book was a major letdown, lacking the interesting characters and intriguing plots of some of his other books. Also, in other books, Sawyer does a far superior job explaining complex science.In this book he makes the scientific explanations difficult to follow unless you happen to be Stephen Hawking.

The plot itself reminds me of a long episode of Star Trek TNG.You have the starship searching the galaxy with both human and alien crewmen united by a planet Commonwealth (did you say Federation?).They ultimately must save the galaxy by the book's end.

5-0 out of 5 stars Award-caliber / first-rate / great book
Robert J. Sawyer won the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novel of the Year for HOMINIDS.That win was well-deserved but I got to wondering how far back in his career he was writing award-caliber books before he snared the "Big One."The answer is:at least THIS far back.STARPLEX was the only 1996 novel to be both a best-novel Hugo Award finalsit and best-novel Nebula Award finalist (and it won Canada's Aurora Award and the Compuserve HOmer Award).Sawyer's aliens are every bit as good as those of James White, Larry Niven, Hal Clement and Robert Forward, and his people are infinitely more complex and believable than any written by those writers.This book tackles just about every problem in astrophysics ... and solves them all.No wonder its on numerous university astronomy reading lists, and endorsed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.A terrific book well worth tracking down.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good mix
This the second book by Sawyer I have read and I enjoyed both. The first was 'Calculating God'. Starplex was mostly hard SF but with some interesting philosophical ideas. Although Starplex seems like basic hard SF, even leaning towards space opera on the surface, it's also develops some big ideas about the universe and origin of life. ... Read more

15. Factoring Humanity
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 336 Pages (2003-11-21)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$5.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765309033
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
In the near future, a signal is detected coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Mysterious, unintelligible data streams in for ten years. Heather Davis, a professor in the University of Toronto psychology department, has devoted her career to deciphering the message. Her estranged husband, Kyle, is working on the development of artificial intelligence systems and new computer technology utilizing quantum effects to produce a near-infinite number of calculations simultaneously.

When Heather achieves a breakthrough, the message reveals a startling new technology that rips the barriers of space and time, holding the promise of a new stage of human evolution. In concert with Kyle's discoveries of the nature of consciousness, the key to limitless exploration---or the end of the human race---appears close at hand.

Sawyer has created a gripping thriller, a pulse-pounding tour of the farthest reaches of technology.
Amazon.com Review
Factoring Humanity will undoubtedly satisfy Sawyer fans, as well asthose looking for positive-future scenarios à la Carl Sagan'sContact. Rather than a galactic vision of war and peace, this novelis localized in the extreme: the plot revolves around Heather, a psychologyprofessor struggling to decipher extraterrestrial messages, and herestranged husband, Kyle, on the brink of the biggest computer sciencebreakthrough of all time. What makes Factoring Humanity work is thatSawyer deals with vast ideas such as alien contact, quantum mechanics, andthe human overmind, but does so to a deeply personal effect.

Sawyer, like many writers of near-future science fiction, has anunfortunate tendency to be too rooted in today, to make so many casualreferences to our present that they draw undue attention to themselves,making it difficult for the reader to suspend disbelief. This fascinationwith 20th-century pop culture crowds the real story and real detailsinto a corner and underscores an apparent lack of creativity in paintingfuture landscapes. Otherwise, and forgiving Sawyer's breathtakingly myopicview of Native Canadians and rather bland prose, this is exciting, readablescience fiction that will take you where no one has gone before--and you'll never forget the ending. --Jhana Bach ... Read more

Customer Reviews (52)

4-0 out of 5 stars A terrific "first contect" novel with a human touch
Like most of Rob's books have been for me, I could hardly put Factoring Humanity down.

This is good science fiction that combines a half dozen big idea into one exciting mash-up. It's a book about First Contact, in the same vain as Carl Sagan's Contact. It's a book about artificial intelligence, quantum computing, human consciousness (even what it means to be human), psychology, and false memories.

It is all of this and yet it is also the story of a family that has fallen apart and is struggling to find some way to put itself back together again. It's a touching story that--science fiction tropes aside--I found moving at several levels.

Like most of Rob's stories, this one takes place in Canada, which gives it an almost alien quality to those of us who are American readers. I really like this about Rob's books. I feel like I've grown to know the Canadian psyche, in some small way, through the characters I've met and identified with in his books, and Factoring Humanity was no exception.

Some books that attempt to tackle such a variety of mind-expanding ideas, build up to a requisite pitch of excitement and anticipation, but fall flat, somehow, when unveiling the conclusion. Not so, Factoring Humanity. The payoff is, in my opinion worthy of the story being told. The characters are strong, struggling with their demons and each other. It's one of those books that really had me, it was a page turner, and it was moving. It had almost everything that makes a perfect read for me.

But I don't give those out lightly. I rated the book 4 stars (out of 5). I was tempted to give it 4-1/2 stars, but my policy since I started keeping my list was not to give out half-stars and I simply couldn't see myself starting now. It was one of those stories that I really, really, enjoyed however, and it's a book that I would recommend to anyone interested in reading an example of superb science fiction.

3-0 out of 5 stars Concerns - About the Book & these Reviews
"Factoring Humanity" ("FH") is the second book I've read by Sawyer ("Calculating God" ("CG") being the first). In the main, I have enjoyed both, but have a few issues which I hope are related solely to these 2 books and not to the rest of his efforts (I have enjoyed these 2 enough that I do plan on reading more from his catalog).

First, both are great stories that just seem to fizzle out at the end.I thought "Calculating God" ended with a sort of Arthur C. Clarke-style ending that frankly didn't fit with the rest of the story.In comparison to the previous 9/10 of the book, "CG" ended on a really flat, predictable, and frankly unworthy note.Sorry, but I felt the same about "Factoring Humanity."Not wanting to spoil the ending for those who haven't yet read it, "FH" ended on a cliche-. The ending was utopian drivel (sorry) which was made much worse and unsatisfying in that Sawyer had a much better conclusion available had he gone with the implications of what Cheetah said and a "what if" what happened to Epsilon Eridani also happened to the Centaurs.I don't need fairy tale endings in my SF, instead I like to be provoked to thought and more often than not happy endings don't do that (it certainly didn't in this case).

Second, both books are sort of provincial in scope (characters, setting, etc.) and the writing isn't the stuff that literature remembered down thru the ages is composed of.I admit to nit-picking here, but I do have to agree with some other reviewers in this regard.In Sawyer's defense, I think he had to do it in this way in order to work with the really tough topics he chose to write on.So while neither "CG" or "FH" will ever be considered on the same plane as "War & Peace," I can live with that.

But what really disturbs me about the book (and frankly, with the lack of notice by other reviewers) is the blase- attitude everyone seems to have about Sawyer's writing and the characters' very evident selfishness and indifference to matters of personal privacy.There are real implications here and unfortunately a good amount of bad logic/philosophy.

The implications should be easy to see.With the technology discovered by the main character, she can now at will and anonymously ease drop on anyone.And not just hear, but BE in anyone's mind (living or dead).What then becomes of the "right" to personal privacy? With this tool in hand, the protagonist has stolen the ultimate in private property.And she has NO qualms about doing so.She admits to doing what she does for selfish reasons, but oh well.This is voyeurism taken to its most perverted (if there is such a thing) - randomly viewing anybody's most intimate thoughts, unannounced and uninvited, and for purely selfish reasons.If the protagonist doesn't seem worried about her own selfish reasons in using the device (because she sees her reasons as noble), she should at least worry about the device being used in the hands of someone whose selfish reasons are less than noble.But she doesn't.Wow, talk about naive!Or is that just native Canadian optimism?But we never get a satisfying answer to this ethical dilemma because Sawyer introduces a plot device (the interaction of the Jungian "overmind with "something else") to prevent it - sorry, pure hokum.

As to bad logic/philosophy, I'll keep this short.Sawyer leads the reader to the conclusion that there could not possibly be anyone on the face of the earth who would reject the Centaurs' gift once unveiled.But the mere fact that there are people who would embrace the gift demands the possibility that there will be those who would reject it.Who then is right?This is no easy question and one that demands addressing.Unfortunately, there's no debate as the book speeds to a quick and unsatisfying conclusion (publisher page limit? Author out of caffeine?).In ending the book with a global chorus of "we all love this gift from the stars," Sawyer is dishonest to himself and the reader & dishonors the thought-provoking, overarching idea/concept of the book - what is "consciousness" and what does it mean to be alive (warts and all)?

I hope Books 3 and on are better than what I have encountered so far.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it - entertaining from start to finish
This one is quite similar to "Contact" in some ways. Mysterious signals are received on earth from the area of Alpha Centauri, and continue regularly for 10 years. They then stop completely, for unknown reasons. The nature of the alien data that is received is studied to determine what it means, without success. Instead of turning out to be instructions for a ship, it is eventually determined to be instructions for another device. The explanation has Sawyer's style all over it, and it is satisfying. The book is as much about the human characters as the aliens, and they are not always interesting. The story works anyway, in my opinion, thanks to Sawyer's skill. Not as good as Calculating God, but not too far behind.

1-0 out of 5 stars Stiled and Hokey
This is the first book by Sawyer that I've read, and I doubt I'll go out of my way to read another.The writing was awkward, and the characters were caricatures, not believable human beings.The basic idea of the story was fairly interesting, but it developed into hokey new-age tripe.Not what I was expecting from "science" fiction

2-0 out of 5 stars Not up to Sawyer's normal quality
*Factoring Humanity* is not Robert J. Sawyer's best book. In fact, it is the least of his that I have read. I very much enjoyed the Humanoid series and *Calculating God*, and found both thought-provoking.

This book lost me from the first chapter: the two main characters, an estranged husband and wife whose marriage fell apart following the suicide of one of their two daughters, are confronted by the other daughter who claims she has discovered repressed memories of being molested by the father and the mother was aware and did nothing. Not a great start to a book about aliens, the brain, and psychology. To the rescue though is an alien signal from Alpha Centauri that delivers the blueprint for a machine that delves into the inner mind of humans. Of what use might this be to the mother?? Get my drift?

I was so bored by this book, that I just skimmed the last 50 pages just so I could see how it ended.


A Guide to my Book Rating System:

1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way. ... Read more

16. Frameshift
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 352 Pages (2005-11-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$2.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765313162
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This is the story of Pierre Tardivel, a scientist, and his complex battle against deadly illness; an ex-Nazi war criminal still hiding in the US; a crooked insurance company; and a plot to make Pierre and his wife the victims of a bizarre genetic experiment. Sawyer juggles his plots smoothly and gracefully, and never drops a ball. Frameshift is hard science fiction at its best, full of complications and neat surprises.Amazon.com Review
There is a 50 percent chance that geneticist Pierre Tardivelis carrying the gene for Huntington's Disease, a fatal disorder. Thatknowledge drives Pierre in his work on the Human Genome Project, anattempt by scientists to map human genes. But a strange set ofcircumstances--including a knife attack, the in vitro fertilization ofhis wife, and an insurance company plot to use DNA samples to weed outclients predisposed to early deaths--draw Tardivel into a story thatwill ultimately involve the hunt for a Nazi death campdoctor. Frameshift shows why the New York Times callsRobert J. Sawyer "a writer of boundless confidence." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (37)

3-0 out of 5 stars Many ideas with so-so execution
There is a lot here. Genetic evolution, telepathy, disease, an attempted murder and murder mystery, the holocaust and the hunt for Nazi war criminals, a corrupt insurance company, and a love story. Within the span of the book, it all connects somehow. But the connections are, in the end, not all that strong. Believability was stretched to the limit for me, and there were simply too many ideas to squeeze into a workable story. The first couple of chapters held promise for an emotionally riveting story, but the promise was never fulfilled. Sawyer's writing was effective, and the book flowed easily, despite its shortcomings. I read this quicker than most books that I considered average, and yet it was also average. Attribute that to Sawyer's skill. His strength of ideas was the reason for the uneven read - it created a lost focus of story that just couldn't be recovered.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Sawyer Triumph!
A 'frameshift' mutation is the adding or removing of one nucleotide to alter the genetic code of a living thing.To simply write a novel where a geneticist utilizes this technique for the purpose of consciousless experimentation would be interesting enough.Robert Sawyer manages to also throw in hunting of Nazi War Criminals, battle against deadly illness and corrupt Insurance companies.

Once again, Sawyer has written a genre-crossing novel that is full of enough detail and thrills to please anyone from sci-fi fanatics through mystery/thriller fans.He has proven that any comparisons to Michael Crichton are justified as he continues to please readers on so many levels.

4-0 out of 5 stars changing genes
"Frameshift" by Robert J. Sawyer, © 1997

This story has a very odd premise.It also presents a truly unusual theory for the growth and development of species, just like in another story: there are theories that stick in your craw and you try to set them right by looking at them outside the box sort of way.
Pierre has Hutchinson Disease.Molly can read minds.He studies DNA and comes upon a new way of understanding how species change.Then the disaster happens.It is really not so bad, but it does cause some adjustment.This ends being a very happy story.

1-0 out of 5 stars Read It In Two Days - Wondering Why I Bothered.
I was excited to read Frameshift at first. A small-scale adventure, confined to one planet, to one species - humans. I didn't see how Sawyer could pull his usual trick of cramming too much subject matter into a book for its own good here, and thankfully, Sawyer manages to focus pretty well on his subject - an unusual achievement for him.

Unfortunately, though, the book suffers from a flawed structure, and the conclusion is undramatic and abrupt. I don't like it when an author has trouble exploiting the dramatic potential latent in his concepts, and Sawyer might as well just not write at all if he can't cure this problem.

If a Nazi is on the loose, shouldn't most of the book center around him? It sort of does, better than most of Sawyer's work, but I was irritated by the insurance company angle taking up so much time in the book, and the science seemed irrelevant and pointless.

By the end of the novel, I still didn't understand what any of the science meant, and I was worried this would stop me from understanding the climax. But this didn't turn out to be a problem, since the villain just gets blown up. This opens the question of why Sawyer bothered wasting time including the science at all. Things that don't drive the plot of a novel or contribute in some signifigant way should be left out.

Robert J. Sawyer seems to have trouble just picking one extraordinary thing and sticking to it. Most of his books are irritating, having such a mish-mash of different subjects all piled together that it's hard to know which one to concentrate on. Frameshift is one of his best, but it still amounts up to a dull, unfullfilling conclusion.

4-0 out of 5 stars How does Sawyer cram so much into one book?
This is the second novel I have read by Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer and after this I will definitely be reading a lot more.I am in amazement about some of the reviews listed here. It appears that if an author has a comment or idea that makes some of these reviewers uncomfortable or the plot does not go the way they want it to then the author must be at fault. Now personally I enjoyed being challenged by a writer to keep my mind open and let new thoughts slip in, and in Sawyer's books the ideas are exploding like hot popcorn kernels.

This novel runs the gamut of ideas, plots and sub-plots.Sawyer covers everything from Huntington's disease, telepathy, evil nazis, neanderthals, crooked insurance companies, and genetics in less than 350 pages and makes it all work smoothly. With a strong narrative style, believable characters, and an ability to explain complex scientific principles in a manner that is easy to comprehend Sawyer keeps the reader turning the pages. Several of the reviewers have criticized this book saying that having an evil or corrupt insurance company as the villain is too unrealistic. If I am not mistaken insurance companies are interested in one thing and one thing only-profit. If they could find a way (and in this book they do) to increase the odds in their favor, they would.

If you want a science-fiction book that actually has science in it, some controversial and original viewpoints and is bursting at the seems with ideas and is well-written as well, then you should enjoy Robert J. Sawyer's FRAMESHIFT. ... Read more

17. Hominids
by Robert J. Sawyer
 Library Binding: 448 Pages (2008-06-05)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$16.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1435297792
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The first book of a major SF trilogy of parallel worlds, by the award-winning authorRobert Sawyers SF novels are regularly nominated for the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. These very different books have only their strengths in common: imaginative originality, unique scientific extrapolation, and great stories.Hominids, the first book of the Neanderthal Parallax, is a story of parallel worlds: our own, and another in which neanderthals, not homo sapiens, became the dominant intelligent species. In that world, neanderthal civilization has reached heights of culture and science comparable to our own, but very different in detail and philosophy. During a risky physics experiment deep in a mine in Canada, a neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, is accidentally transferred to our universe, where another experiment is taking place in the same mine. He is captured and studied, alone and bewildered, a stranger in a strange land. Back home, Ponters research partner is left with a messy lab, a missing body, suspicious people all around, and a murder trial that he cant possibly win because he doesnt know what happened. When luck, curiosity, imagination and inventiveness combine to save the day, its not the end at all but a new beginning, with two worlds eager to learn more about what links them and what holds them apart. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (107)

1-0 out of 5 stars Hatred of humanity cloaking device
This series is a political screed. It is not one darn thing more or less.The author used a very limp and shallow story line as the mechanism to preach to his readers on topics of population control, pollution, atheism, the value and morality of absolute state monitoring of all individuals - and on and on and on some more.I bought the trilogy on a "whim and a click" based on the first book winning the Hugo award... didn't bother to read the reviews here in Amazon.My bad.

5-0 out of 5 stars If things had been a little different
Robert Sawyer has written an incredible book about the meeting of Neanderthal and Homo sapien societies. His references to contemporary science had me delving further into the real science. Sawyer uses today's science as a basis for his stories, for example this book discusses the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. Since Sawyer's description was so specific I googled it and lo and behold it was there exactly as the author described it. But just because Sawyer uses a lot of contemporary science, this does not act as a constraint and he takes his stories well beyond what we have accomplished to date. Sawyer goes on to construct a story that includes all the elements of a gripping who-dunnit, with romance and legal drama. Sawyer does a remarkable job of describing what Neanderthal society might be like and his text compares Neanderthal and Homo sapiens culture through the eyes of each. I had not expected to learn contemporary science while reading a science fiction book but this is what very pleasantly happened. His frequent references to pulp culture were appreciated as it made me feel that Sawyer was writing for me. Whether you like science and/or science fiction, I very strongly recommend this book.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not recommended
The book opens in a promising way, nice science setup in a fictional context, nice introduction of the alternate universe... And then all of a sudden, a female character (who appears to be one of the main characters) is raped. No foreshadowing, no indication that something like that might happen in the book, nothing. The scene is completely out of the blue and gratuitous, and it was more than enough to turn my stomach and make me put the book away (and pretty much ruined my day). For anybody who has issues with this subject - I recommend you give this book a wide pass.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not the worst book I've ever read...
I never thought I'd have to start a book review with this information, but here goes:

I'm liberal.I'm the most liberal person I know, and as I live in one of the most liberal places in America, that's saying something.

That being said, this book annoyed the hell out of me because of how preachy it was on pro-liberal subjects. I don't mean just a mention of an idea here and there, I mean page after page after page of lecturing the reader on a subject.

On top of that, some of the characters' actions were so very unrealistic.As other reviewers have mentioned:A woman gets raped. In the middle of it, she thinks to herself 'rape isn't about sex, it's about violence'.There's outright description of one body part being forced into another, and the writer decides to take a pause to bring that up to the reader?

I wanted to like this book, I really did.If the writer had taken out all the preachy political stuff I could have given it more stars and maybe not have counted the pages left until it was finished.

The other negative reviews are so dead-on, I won't waste space by listing all the other issues here as well.Read them for yourself.

2-0 out of 5 stars unconvincing and tired gender-roles
The concept sounds great but....

The world building was not that great for the Neanderthal side, I was left wanting more. The book was heavily concerned with the role of gender in creating a society and the impact of male violence, yet it wasn't even a good discussion of the subject. I found the portrayals of the people unappealing, characters didn't feel very nuanced. And the exploration of their justice system was cut short with the allusions to its downsides never really dealt with.

There is lots of postulating about the beginning of consciousness and the role of parallel universes that was unconvincing to me. I couldn't understand the Neanderthal explanation of how the universe was created. Also, I tend to lean towards the some animals have thought and culture side which this book does not and uses to further its explanation of parallel universes. ... Read more

18. Illegal Alien
by Robert J.;Robert J Sawyer Sawyer
 Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1999)

Asin: B001H8A2XO
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (29)

4-0 out of 5 stars A clever combination of two of my favourite genres!
Editor John Campbell once challenged his writers, "Write me a story about an organism that thinks as well as a man, but not like a man". In "Illegal Alien", celebrated Canadian sci-fi author Robert J Sawyer has risen to the challenge and created the Tosoks, a technologically advanced non-humanoid alien species complete with personal foibles, taboos, culture, language and religious beliefs, even thinking patterns and behaviour that reflect both that culture and the physical constraints of their original planet.

When the disabled Tosok spaceship lands on Earth, first contact, initially tinged with fear and awe is actually surprisingly well handled and peaceful. Earth graciously welcomes the newcomers and humanity seeks to put its best foot forward recognizing the mutual advantages of peaceful co-existence and the enormous opportunities to be had by assimilating such advanced technology. Then Clete Calhoun, a popular astronomer and, to all appearances, the first human friend of Hask, one of the Tosok aliens, is found brutally murdered in a manner that clearly indicates one of the aliens as the perpetrator. When Hask is put on trial for capital murder, it's clear that the implications of the outcome are far greater than the innocence or guilt of one individual alien.

For the most part, "Illegal Alien" ignores the hard side of the sci-fi spectrum. There is some interesting discussion of orbital mechanics in multiple star systems but other than that, Sawyer is content to let such miscellaneous factors as faster-than-light interstellar propulsion or an ultra-fine monofilament that can be used as a razor sharp cutting wire creep into the story in Star Trek fashion with no explanation or attempt to explore the scientific underpinnings. Instead, "Illegal Alien" focuses on the softer issues of first contact, alien diplomacy and inter-cultural communication.

Not a deep story but an interesting one that blends soft sci-fi with intriguing courtroom drama and a very clever, warm twist ending that dovetailed beautifully with my personal hopes for what I am convinced is inevitable contact with an intelligent extraterrestrial species.

Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss

5-0 out of 5 stars Sawyer meets Grisham
Yeah, I've said it. You either like Sawyer or you don't and I can understand why a bunch of reviewers were really turned off by this book.

Sawyer is one of those authors who like to, and seem to get away with pushing his own agenda in his books, i.e writing what he wants to write instead of what we want to read. The off-turning part that the other reviewers disliked is a short rehash of the OJ Simpson trial and it must have been big on his mind at the time when he wrote this book, after all it was the only thing on the media at that time.Fortunately he seemed to be mollified enough by the couple of chapters that he continued to finish the book in a style that we readers want. And it's a good thing too, because once we got past that part, the book became a pretty good sci-fi and murder mystery and I'm glad I stayed with it. I highly recommend it, overall, it's one of Sawyer's best books and if you're a fan of his (or even not) you won't regret it.

A brief synopsis: An alien spaceship arrives and the aliens are welcomed to Earth. They are honored guests here until a human is murdered, and it appears that one of the aliens did it. I won't spoil it for you by saying more. And as always Sawyer is a good writer and his books are easy to read and understand. Give this one a try, it is one of his better books.

4-0 out of 5 stars I liked the book
I'm not usually into this kind of book or story but bought it on impulse and found I really enjoyed it. I did not find it "dated" nor did I find it unbelievable. I will probably at least look at other books by this author now.

3-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good read
I tend to be a "big picture" reader, meaning that I do not pay significant attention to details... a story, for me, either flows or it doesn't.

In that context, this book is quite wonderful... as it is a great page turner. I read it in one sitting. However, when compared with numerous readings over the years, Illegal Alien has not struck me as one of the more memorable stories, nor particularly well written. The book is a great blend of mystery, court drama, and sc-fi... would make a fantastic movie with the right screen writer.

Worth a read if you are looking for interesting blend of genera, or if you are stuck at an airport.

1-0 out of 5 stars Uninspiring/Unbelievable Tale with a Catchy Title
I found ILLEGAL ALIEN(1997) to be unfinishable - mainly due to the fact that it is a contemporary SciFi story that was written ten years ago - so it simply doesn't hold up to time, and there are far too many anachronisms and idosynchrocies to wade thru... the straw that broke the camel's back for me was the part where F-14 fighters are escorting the Alien Craft - it is impossible for me to "suspend disbelief" in this case, as the last F-14 was decommissioned this year..., and since no aliens have shown up yet, this situation couldn't have ever happened, and never will happen.

After encountering a similar fiasco (but for different reasons - way too liberal politics and science) with MINDSCAN (2005), I'm definately steering away from any more books by Robert J. Sawyer. ... Read more

19. Iterations
by Robert J. Sawyer
Paperback: 306 Pages (2004-02-10)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$22.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0889953031
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Robert J. Sawyer - called "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by the Ottawa Citizen and "just about the best science fiction writer out there these days" by the Rocky Mountain News - won the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award for his novel Hominids and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award for his novel The Terminal Experiment.

Iterations is Sawyer's first short story collection, gathering 22 fantastic tales from such diverse places as Amazing Stories, the Village Voice, the Globe & Mail, and Nature.

Among them, these stories have:

  • Won the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Award ("the Aurora")
  • Won the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award,
  • Been nominated for the Hugo,
  • Nominated for and the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award,
  • Been performed on CBC Radio, and
  • Appeared in best-of-the-year collections.

In Iterations, you'll:

  • See Sherlock Holmes solve the problem of the missing aliens,
  • Find out what really happened to the bones of Peking Man,
  • Learn the truth about the alligators in the sewers of New York,
  • Visit a future Toronto sealed inside a steel dome,
  • Encounter pure evil aboard the Russian space station Mir,
  • Follow a serial killer as his consciousness is transferred into a Tyrannosaurus rex, and
  • Meet a man doomed to commit murder over and over again because of the pressures of Canadian publishing.

Each story is accompanied by Sawyer's own commentary, and the collection is introduced by award-winning SF author James Alan Gardner.

Amazon.com Review
From Booklist
Canada's leading sci-fi author has been penning acclaimed novels and editing anthologies since the early 1980s. Here is a single sample from a larger collection of his superlative, often award-winning, short stories. In "Iterations," a publisher finds a doorway to parallel universes that allows him to systematically eliminate murderous versions of himself, though at the risk of becoming his own victim. Sawyer has a gift for casting jarringly original ideas in lucid, sharp-edged prose that mainstream-fiction as well as sf readers should appreciate.
Carl Hays Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

This review pertains to the Kindle Edition of the book, not to the book itself.Amazon is deluding Kindle customers - this so-called short-story collection contains just the one story, not the whole book!! At $2.55 for one short story, this is daylight robbery by Amazon. They should specify on the Kindle edition page that this is the case!

4-0 out of 5 stars Free SF Reader
'"You can't kill me," he --I --said. "I'm you."'

3.5 out of 5

1-0 out of 5 stars Kindle version is just the one story - you get what you pay for
Reading the other reviews I thought this was quite a deal - a 305 page book with 21 short stories for only $0.55! Unfortunately when I purchased it (no sample available, since the sample would be the entire content) I found it just contained the first story in the book. So I guess for 1/21 the cost you get 1/21 the content. Nothing wrong with that but I wish Amazon was more clear upfront that only one of the 21 stories in the paper book was included. I would suggest Amazon remove reviews of the print editions from the Kindle editions unless they are largely the same content, which this is not.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thank God for Amazon!!!
I have loved the work of Mr. Sawyer for several years now, but unfortunately my local bookstore stocks very few of his novels (their Sci-Fi section is nothing but Star Wars and space erotica. Oy vey!). Thankfully, Amazon has a fantastic selection of his works, and I am able to find novels of his that were not readily available in the States. I began reading Mr. Sawyer's work with the "Neanderthal" trilogy when I had run out of Star Trek books which interested me. Wow! I was blown away. This is true Science Fiction in the sense that Mr. Sawyer knows the science behind the topics which he writes and goes indepth to the point where it does not seem like fiction but a true possiblity. The man is a genius and should be on everyone's "Top 10" fiction writers of all time. His short stories are just as good. I may be biased by having Chinese ancestory, but I particularly liked the "Peking Man" tale. This book begs you to read just one more, until before you know it, you've finished the whole thing! If you want a great selection of short stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat then buy this tout de suite! Also, for Sawyer fans, if you haven't already, check out "Calculating God". I believe it to be Sawyer's greatest (and perhaps most controversial) work to date. That book will have you pondering the questions of life and the universe like never before.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just as good as his novels

The dictionary defines iteration - as doing or saying again; a repeated performance repeating, repetition, the act of doing or performing again.

I say Iterations (2002) by Robert J. Sawyer is a mighty fine collection of his short stories.It contains:

An Introduction by James Alan Gardner

The Hand You're Dealt
Peking Man
Gator (possibly the birthplace of the Quintaglio Ascension
The Blue Planet
Wiping Out
Uphill Climb (per the author the first Quintaglio story)
Last but Not Least
If I'm Here, Imagine Where They Sent My Luggage
Where the Heart Is
Lost in the Mail
Just Like old Times
The Contest
Stream of Consciousness
The Abdicatation of Pope Mary III
Above It All
Ours to Discover
You See But You Do Not Observe
Fallen Angel
The Shoulders of Giants

Publication History
Aboutthe Author

Treat yourself and read this book.I highly recomend this book.


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20. The Terminal Experiment
by Robert J. Sawyer
 Hardcover: Pages (2001-01-01)

Asin: B0019QELZO
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (71)

4-0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking near-future s.f. adventure
The book is about a near-future Toronto engineer who makes medical detection equipment. After witnessing an organ harvesting on a "brain dead" patient, he decides to use his equipment to see if he can come up with a better definition of legally "dead". In doing so, he discovers that the last bit of brain activity appears to be some kind of coherent electric "form" leaving the brain through the temple--what comes to be called the "Soulwave".

This book pushed all of my near-future science fiction buttons--artificial intelligence, computers, theology, experimental science--and wrapped it all in a murder mystery. I flew through the book, completing it in less than two days. One way I judge how well I like a book is by how hard it is to put down, and like most of Rob's books, this one was tough to set aside. I had a number of meetings yesterday, and knowing people's penchant for being late to meetings, I even managed to sneak in some reading while waiting for people to show up.

I don't know how he does it, but Rob has a knack for drawing the reader instantly into the story and then racing through at what sometimes seems like breakneck speeds, all the while keeping the reader fascinated and entertained. As an American reader, the fact that his stories are typically set in Canada--Toronto specifically in The Terminal Experiment makes the setting all the more interesting. At the same time, the characters themselves are believable, real-life human beings. They are fallible, they make mistakes, bad decisions and we feel for them through the whole story. It was particularly difficult to watch the ebb and flow of the relationship between Peter Hobson and his wife throughout the story. Difficult because, we've all been there, or know someone who has; we know exactly what Peter is feeling.

Rob also has a way of making extrapolations about the near future that are so obvious and yet subtle. He is, perhaps, Robert Heinlein's equal in this respect. He doesn't tell you about all of these cool gadgets and gizmos. Instead, he includes them as though they are just an everyday part of society and that everyone knows what they are, no explanation required. It provides a much more natural feel for the setting of the story.

Rob is also very good at exploring all avenues of a premise and taking each to its natural conclusion, in this respect, his stories are like Isaac Asimov's and The Terminal Experiment is no different. The book is an exploration of all of the possibilities of what makes life life, what makes a living person living and a dead person dead.

In another way, Rob is like Asimov: the clarity of his writing. His style is plain, clear, unadorned, and for the type of stories he tells, this is perfect. Mind you, this is not to say the writing is bad. Isaac Asimov used to say that writing clearly is just as hard as writing poetically. But the style does not get in the way of the story-telling and that is crucial.

The Terminal Experiment reminded me, in some ways, of Connie Willis' Passage. This is phrased wrong. Rob's book was written years before Connie's, but I read Connie's first, back in 2002. They deal in similar themes, exploring what it means to be alive and dead. While I found Connie's book to be the more chilling of the two, I found Rob's to be, overall, the more enjoyable read. I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fast pace worth buying
Dr. Peter Hobson, scientist discovers that there is a current in the brain that escapes at the moment of death he chooses to interpret it as the soul. Of course, this discovery opens all kinds of discussion from the most scientific to the most extreme religious groups.

When he and an old Muslim schoolmate and friend decide to create simulations of his brain to test their theories on the soul. They put it on the computer and find that cannot be eliminated despite all their high tech knowledge.With three simulations loose on the Internet they do Peter's deep thoughts, things become frightening and desperate.

Add to all this Peter's dilemma over his wife's infidelity and you have a futuristic mystery with drama, stress and ethics problems thrown in. This is a thoroughly entertaining story. A fast pace story, it is also thought-provoking and intelligent.

I would give it a 4 and 1/2 star I rarely give a 5 star.But I see so many have rated it cruely.It's a great story.Run and buy it!!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars So good, worth $$$ for a good, clean copy
Whether the reader is a staunch believer or a staunch atheist, this book provides ample food for thought, and it's a page-turner to boot. Novels don't come better than this.

I bought the audiobook -- which I can't flip back and reread or mark passages. I wanted to, and since the hard copy is out of print, I had to pay $$$ for a markable one.

Since the first review you'll see summarizes the plot, I won't. The food for thought is in the form of real-life studies and the fictional characters' musings about life, love and eternity. The book contains zero theology. In fact, the author is evidently so ignorant of Christianity as practiced in the real world that he makes laughable mistakes.

The errors don't detract from all the possibilities he explores, and a reader who's not submersed in scifi won't pick nits about too Star Trek references and the like. A fascinating book, well worth the price of a used copy.

4-0 out of 5 stars An acquired taste
Having read most of Sawyer's books now, I can say more authoratively that Robert J. Sawyer is an acquired taste, you'll either like him, or you won't.

This review will apply equally to many of his other books.

Pros: I like Sawyer, mainly because his writing is easy to read. It flows along easily and is not a chore to read. He has some good story ideas and I generally like his characters. Also somewhat important is that his books make you think, if you want to. He brings up some interesting points which you can explore yourself, and in fact, I've sometimes stopped reading a little just to think about them. I think he's a pretty smart guy who happens to be a writer.

1) Like some authors (the biggest offenders are Grisham and Crichton) he likes to push his agenda, and also like most of them, he's earned it. I mean, if Grisham and Crichton wrote that kind of stuff in their first novels they'd never have made it big. Sawyer is a little different in that, I think that has always been his way of writing, he has a few pet ideas, which he pitches in this book and others.
2) Some swathes of his books are boring, he goes off on a tangent about some stuff which may not have any bearing on where the story is going, and I simply skip it. I've noticed that another reviewer has called this multi-plot lines. Yeah, you could call it that, except sometimes the other plotline(s) is a dead end and goes nowhere.

The cons sound pretty damning, so why would I read his books?Like I said, they're easy to read and I like the storylines and I like them enough that I'm willing to suffer (or skip) through the bad parts. The truth is that there are not that many good sci-fi writers out there and I'm willing to trade the boring parts for the rest of the story (like hating to stand in line to eat in a good restaurant). And it's not very many fiction books which make you think (Piers Anthony is another author who does.)

About this book: It's superficially a sci-fi murder mystery, but it's more about one of his pet ideas about duplicating a person into a computer. And it goes off in different tangents which you may care to explore, or not.

I won't write another review about his books because if you like him, you'll look for all his books to read regardless of what other people say. And if you don't like him, you just need a couple of books to find that out.

Check out the other reviews, the ratings are all over the place - plenty of 1's up to 5's. People who don't get him revile his books, people who get him praise him to high heaven. So my recommendation is just to read 1-2 of his books and you'll either read the rest of them, or thrown them down in digust. I happen to like him and I will be reading the rest of his books.

2-0 out of 5 stars Has its moments, but dated
Diskettes in 2011? This book would probably have been 4-stars back in 95' when it won the Nebula. Unfortunately, this book does not stand the test of time. I almost put this down 2/3 of the way through for being too cheesy, but I'm glad I finished it. The story is kind of cool, but it could have been so much better. The main character is too perfect, aside from his judgemental snootiness. And his life is just too convenient, I mean, you're in another city, call an old friend who just happens to have nothing better to do than join you for lunch? And that's not the only thing...the world really does revolve around Peter Hobson, everything is so easy for him. Scientific inventions that go right the first time? POOF, it's like magic isn't it? Nope. Just in this book. Cookie cutter cops, lame dialogue, ancient Web technologies. This book did make me think though...about how much better it could've been. ... Read more

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