Robert J. Sawyer
Rollback Cover

Just another Sawyer book


I make it no secret that I don't really enjoy Robert J Sawyer's books. So I'll pre-empt this all by saying that if you already didn't like a Sawyer book, you probably won't like this one either, though depending on which of his other books you disliked, this one will probably make you roll your eyes slightly less violently.

The problem is that he starts off with a science premise that sounds fascinating.

Ex: What if we were communicating with an alien race 18.8 light years away and we had a way to extend human lifespans so that a single human could live long enough to see a response to their last communication?

Then throw in some human drama: What if the life-extending procedure didn't work on a vital person, specifically the one communicating with the aliens, but did work on her husband. How does a nearly 90 year old man feel about being young again? How do they cope with her inevitable death?

But where it always goes sideways is in the middle where the characters are puzzling out the very very obvious theme of the book. This one is: at what point is the human race considered "advanced"? And more specifically what are the moral and ethical markers of an "advanced" species? Sounds interesting, right? You'd be wrong because Mr Sawyer has an answer and it has to do with abortion. And it also calls back to his incredibly condescending intro to Calculating God where he seems to think that all atheists believe that there is not a god, where most of the ones that I've met simply believe that there is insufficient evidence to believe in a god. I won't bore you with the details because there is a lot of it in the book.

On the plus side, at least the big reveal in this one isn't nearly as moronic as it was in Calculating God, WWW:Wake, or The Terminal Experiment.

Bleh. If you like his other books, you'll probably like this one.