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The terminal experiment Paperback – Mar 23 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Fiction (March 23 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061053104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061053108
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.2 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 177 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #626,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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The Terminal Experiment has propelled Robert J. Sawyer into the limelight as one of science fiction's hot new writers, earning him the prestigious Nebula Award in the process. In this fast-paced thriller, Dr. Peter Hobson's investigations into death and afterlife lead him to create three separate electronic versions of himself: one has no memory of physical existence and represents life after death; one has no knowledge of death or aging and represents immortality; and the third is left unaltered as a control. But all three have escaped into the worldwide matrix...and one of them is a killer.

About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer was born in Ottawa and lives in  Mississauga with his wife, poet Carolyn Clink. He has won  both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel. The ABC TV  series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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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

Most helpful customer reviews

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: Paperback
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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By Friederike Knabe TOP 100 REVIEWER on Jan. 18 2008
Format: Paperback
Going back through time, I just finished Terminal Experiment, winner of the prestigious science fiction Nebula Award in 1995, after having read all of Robert Sawyer's book since his "Calculating God" (2000) in sequence. The subject matter, how technological advances can extend life beyond the usual lifespan has been a major topic in his most recent books, "Mindscan" and "Rollback". Terminal Experiment, Sawyer stated at the time, was "an exercise in determining what a human mind might be like if it were aware either that it would live forever or that it was already dead."

"Hobson's Choice", named with a touch of irony after the primary protagonist, Dr. Peter Hobson, and the title of the novel's serialization in Analog magazine, "is the choice between immortality or a scientifically verified life after death." Hobson's fascination with AI reaches new levels when he discovers an electromagnetic pulse that can be monitored as it escapes from the brain at time of death. He calls it a "soul-wave". Does that mean that a "soul" can be scientifically identified? Where does it lead and how long does it survive outside the body? Does it apply to everybody or was it a fluke? What about animals? Sawyer explores these topics with his usual sharp, investigative mind both from the technological angle as well as the spiritual.

Hobson's friend and partner in AI experiments is Sakar Muhammed. Together, they dream up a scheme that should provide new insights into brain functions after death. They do this by developing sophisticated computer models of Peter's complete brain map. The three models are not identical so that they can monitor the different behaviour patterns in the virtual environment.
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Format: Paperback
Robert Sawyer is nothing if not an "intellectual" - his stories, novels, and even his interviews on the talk-show circuit are not standard and run-of-the-mill. He likes to explore the Big Questions of the universe and in The Terminal Experiment, he tackles one of his favourites - exploration of the devine by supplying evidence of a creator. In addition, he throws in a healthy dose of artificial intellegence, a murder mystery, and some neat medical equipment.
The main character, Peter Hobson, has family problems at home - he's going through a rocky point in his marriage. At the same time, he discovers evidence (using a super-sensitive EEG) of a "coherent electromagnetic pulse" leaving the brain at the time of death. Naturally, theologians call this evidence for a human soul, which gets Hobson thinking: what is the afterlife like? With the help of a friend (and researcher into A.I.), he generates 3 virtual copies of himself. These copies live in cyberspace, two of which are modified to simulate immortal life and life after death.
When two men turn up dead, both of whom Hobson had something against, Hobson quickly determines that one of his computerised simulacra must have done the killing. But which one? And can it be stopped?
This book won a Nebula award, and it's easy to see why. It's an exciting adventure, and there are some neat ideas in it. It's also charmingly dated in places - for example, in the year 2011, Sawyer has the Commenwealth of Independent States still existing, and Carl Sagan shows up on a talk show. Unfortunately, as other reviewers have mentioned, there is the problem of too many things happening at once. Is this a story about the existence of the soul? Is it a story about computer-generated personalities committing murder?
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