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5.0 out of 5 stars This is why science fiction is one of Canada's greatest exports.
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...
Published 9 months ago by Scott Reine

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Killer of Reader�s Imagination
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,...
Published on May 6 2004 by WFK


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Killer of Reader�s Imagination, May 6 2004
By 
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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5.0 out of 5 stars This is why science fiction is one of Canada's greatest exports., Sept. 30 2013
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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
4.0 out of 5 stars More myster/thriller, less sci-fi, April 16 2010
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas, conveyed in writing no worse than most sci-fi, Oct. 13 1997
By A Customer
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent story from one of the best SF writers, May 7 2007
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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5.0 out of 5 stars an absolute page turner, Aug. 14 2011
What a great book!! Fans of RJS will be satisfied by yet another exemplary work. Those who do not know him will discover an excellent author... It was written in 1993 but the action takes place in 2011; it's nice to see how he thought the 'future' would be like... and how close, or far, we are from it.

This book is part sci-fi (AI), part murder mystery with just a hint of Robin Cook type medical stuff at the beginning. He explores the most fundemental questions a human being can ask about 'immortality', 'life after death' and basically 'being alive'...

It will keep you reading late at night when you're supposed to be sleeping and it'll keep you guessing too!
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's all in the brain..., Jan. 19 2008
By 
Friederike Knabe "Books are funny little port... (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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. But then the virtual and the actual realities collide with consequences the two scientists have not foreseen... Are they in the end faced with a real "Hobson's Choice"?

As in the recent novels, brilliant to my mind, this novel combines the human aspects of what artificial intelligence (AI) can provide through advanced technology. He embeds pertinent questions of life after death and the morality resulting from the application of the technological advances into a full-fledged detective and mystery story. At times the story moves a bit slowly and there are unnecessary repetitions. His protagonists' characters are well drawn, their personal lives complicated by events and strong emotions. Other players, in particular, Sandra, Peter's wife are less convincing and rather shallow despite her role in the personal drama. While the reader may have more insights in what is going on than the protagonists, the unraveling of events is as creative as it is unique. Sawyer's knowledge of the latest science is, as usual, spot on and the realization of some of his fictional developments are within reach just a few years later. It makes the reading or rereading of Terminal Experiment years after publication particularly interesting and stimulating. [Friederike Knabe]
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and enjoyable; maybe too crowded, though, July 5 2004
By 
Craig MACKINNON (Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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? Sawyer never seems to sort out what the important storyline is, and the reader is left feeling that he had two good ideas for short stories, then combined them to make a novel. But it's great fun and a good read, so I can forgive such issues.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nebula Award winner, Dec 30 2003
By 
Donal T. Tighe (Orlando, FL, USA) - See all my reviews
This book won the Science Fiction Writers Association's Nebula Award, and it's easy to see why. It deftly balances believable characterization with brilliant scientific exposition. This was Sawyer's first big award win (he went on to win the Hugo in 2003 for HOMINIDS), and definitely marked a turning point in his career. I've heard Sawyer say that he likes to combine the intimately human with the grandly cosmic and that's certainly what he does here, with the story of a marriage on the rocks set against the discovery of scientific proof for the existence of the human soul (and idea I was initially turned off by but that Sawyer sells very effectively). I think this was the first of Sawyer's books to be set in his hometown of Toronto, something that has become one of his hallmarks. It's not his first to also be a mystery novel (that would be GOLDEN FLEECE), but it certainly is one of the most clever whodunnit premises I've ever seen. Top marks!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, Oct. 8 2002
By 
After reading a few reviews I expected more from this book. Embrionary plot and superficial contents make it only an average SF book. Entertaining, but nothing more.
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