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The Terminal Experiment Mass Market Paperback – Dec 1 2009


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (Dec 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143175114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143175117
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 10.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #168,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Sandra Philo probe the memories of Peter Hobson. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By WFK on May 6 2004
Format: Hardcover
It is easy to understand why this book won the Nebula award: there are many thought-provoking ideas woven into a story that grips the reader up to almost the last page.
The almost is due to what IMHO is this authors cardinal sin: he wants to explain it all and gives his stories more than one ending. So the mystery gets solved, the hero - who BTW is a self-centered, unbearable self-righteous ass - goes on to we now know where.
In the end all of this leaves a stale taste. Could he not have stopped 15 pages earlier? The story-ark was finished and speaking for myself I like to fill a few blank spots from my own imagination. The best sequels are the ones the author never writes but the reader imagines himself. So thank you very much Mr. Sawyer for killing that of.
Since the same already happened in "Calculating God" and "Frameshift" I doubt that I will buy another of his novels soon.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Robert J. Sawyer is one of the reasons why I believe that science fiction is one of Canada's greatest exports. This is a pretty standard Robert J Sawyer book. It follows an intellectual, science minded character exploring a quite interesting new idea. If you like Sawyer's other works, you really ought to read this.

If you're not familiar with Robert J. Sawyer either you hate science fiction, or you've been living under a rock. In either case you really should check it out as it's a fairly good sample of what his writing tends to be like.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Princess Lucy on April 16 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is difficult to find good Canadian science fiction. I would consider Robert Sawyer one of the best of the bunch. Even in saying this, I do sometimes put his books down with that feeling of something missing. It's almost perfect but...

The Terminal Experiment is a story about Peter Hobson and his incredible discovery that changes the way the world thinks of immortality and life after death. Furthering his research he creates three computer simulations of himself, two with tweaking and the third a control. Gaining access to the WWW, they free themselves and at least one of them is committing horrible crimes.

In reading this book I felt the same way as I did reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; entertained enough, but left wanting. It wasn't until I tried to think of it more like a mystery/thriller and less like sci-fi that I started to enjoy it a lot more. The main weakness was the lack of character development that prevented me from really connecting with most of the characters.

The Terminal Experiment was a fast and easy read and I enjoyed the ethical, moral and philosophical discussions when they occurred. If you are looking for a page turner and a good summer read, you will love this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Oct. 13 1997
Format: Hardcover
The vitriol displayed in some of the reviews of this book amazes me. While the writing style may not give Updike or Bellow anything to worry about, when compared to some of the so-called giants in this genre, like Asimov, Clarke, and Niven, it holds up quite well.
Yes, there are some lapses such as: about 5 too many Star Trek references; a tendency to take today's media figures and just age them, instead of creating new people; and a lead character that seems a little too much like someone you'd bump into at a sci-fi convention. But some of the criticisms on this page are pretty unfounded. Someone criticised the lack of differences in technology between today and 2011 Just how much do you expect life to change in 14 years? Is your life today hugely different than it was in 1983? I think its great that in this version of the future people aren't riding anti-grav cars on the way to the space elevator. And perhaps the most insulting critique of all is that the book doesn't pay enough attention to the U.S., Europe, Japan. Why, this book even has the audacity to present the idea that a major discovery could be made in Canada! Amazing! How insultingly U.S.-centric is it to demand that Canadian writers set their stories in the U.S.?
This book isn't great literature, but it is very good sci-fi. It is full of fascinating ideas, a propulsive narrative with its share of surprises, and an interesting focus on morality. Don't miss this book because of the cranky comments listed on this page. This one deserved the Nebula it won.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Larry Ketchersid on May 7 2007
Format: Hardcover
Robert J. Sawyer is a great science fiction writer, having won every major award in the US, UK, Canada, Japan, and would have won one in Antartica if they had a contest. This novel won the Nebula and was a Finalist for the Hugo.

Frankly, I do not see why.

The story is based on two scientific premises: detection of the soul leaving the body and computer based artificial intelligence. Detection of the soul leads to experiments in AI to determine what life after death might be like. Dr. Peter Hobson, the inventor of the "soulwave" detection, uses AI and nueral net scanning to create three versions of himself: a life after death sim, an immortality sim and a control sim that is just like him. Hobson has some issues to deal with in his personal life (I won't play spoiler here), and those issues are duplicated into the three sims. One of them goes bad, and starts using the net to kill people.

Sawyer's claim to fame is that he will take premises like this and wrap very real characters around them. The concept of science fiction is in making both the science and the fiction work for the reader. Many writers tend to forget this, either throwing out unbelievable science or getting the science right but forsaking the characters or the plot. Sawyer is normally magic in this.

The Terminal Experiment is a good read, with nice pacing. It bogs down at times in the explanations of the science, and some of the philisophical discussions of the AI's. But the concept of killer AI computers has been hashed and re-hashed (remember HAL!), as has the concept of detecting something that proved life after death. And unlike other Sawyer novels, I had difficulty caring about the characters, esp. Cathy, Peter's wife.

I'm glad I read it, but I'm gonna go now and read Hominids, Humans and Hybrids, his classic Neaderthal Parallax series.
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