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on July 21, 2001
The best and brightest (and youngest) of Earth have boarded the 'Argo,' a colonization ship bound for Eta Cephei IV. A city in space that is blasting toward this new earth-like planet, the people have their world turned upside down when one of them dies in an accident that might not be an accident after all.
Told in a winning 1st-person narrative style from the point of view of the AI that runs the ship (JASON), "The Golden Fleece" is a great read, and a murder mystery to boot.
As always, Sawyer has blended more than one plot into one here: Was the crewmember killed or was it an accident? Why was she killed, if it indeed was murder? Coupled with the exploration of the AI as a character, the grief and confusion of the murder victim's ex-husband, and a strong Science Fiction overtone, you've got a great read ahead of you.
With echoes of 2001, "The Golden Fleece," reads somewhat straightforwardly at times, but it still a remarkably entertaining book from the Canadian master of SF.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 23, 2013
The Argo is a colonization ship on its way to Eta Cephei IV with more than ten thousand humans aboard. But this is no sleeper ship. Everyone is awake and engaged in a variety of tasks, mission-related and otherwise. All of this activity is coordinated by JASON, the artificial intelligence that runs everything on the Argo.

The story begins as JASON murders crew member Diana Chandler and is nearly successful in making it look like suicide. Diana's ex-husband Aaron Rossman believes that Diana has killed herself because of his actions. His affair during the final months of their marriage was not a secret as he believed. Aaron gradually sees past his grief and deduces that Diana was murdered. Eventually we all learn the secret she was murdered to protect.

JASON is a bit like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but has more humans to talk with. And lie to. Sawyer gives us a consistent and intriguing portrayal of an advanced AI program with nearly unlimited observational data about human beings and limited experience with which to interpret it. Telling the story from JASON's point of view was a good decision and is well executed.

This is a good story, well told. Like some of Sawyer's other books, this one was written to explore an idea--artificial intelligence, in this case--as well as to entertain. It does both well. It is interesting to compare JASON's malevolent influence in this book to Heinlein's more benevolent but equally secretive Mike that controls Luna City in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Both have similar spans of control and are naïve in their understanding of humans. But they act quite differently.
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on January 7, 2011
Sawyer is a great craftsman. I think I've read Golden Fleece three times. Sometimes, depending on my mood, it seems like like his best novel. If you love SF because you love ideas, then this is worth a read. It brought back that sense of Awe that I had as a kid reading my first SF novel.
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on May 10, 2001
I am a big fan of Sawyer, having read pretty much all his novels now. I started with the more recent stuff(the fantastic FlashForward for one!) and worked my way back. I didn't have great expectations for this book since it is one of his oldest sci-fi books. Actually, I think its his oldest book still in print. Anyhow, the book itself is very, very good. It takes the tired theme of space travel and manages to make it enjoyable. There are some definate parallels to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but Sawyer manages to keep the pace quick and the storyline gripping. It's hard to explain exactly why I like it so much except to say that I could not put it down when it hit the stretch run. I HAD to finish it. Unfortuantely, that is not something that I can always say about books I've read.
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on May 7, 2001
I can't believe the (one) negative review below! It cites no facts to back up its case. Sawyer's science is impeccable, and he is clearly the heir to Clarke (more so than to Asimov or Clement, the other two authors the negative guy below cites), in that he writes REAL science fiction, and also deals with shall we say metaphysical issues. This is a remarkable novel, one of the best SF/mysteries ever (perhaps not as good as Asimov's THE CAVES OF STEEL but certainly better than Niven's LONG A.R.M. OF GIL HAMILTON). But don't believe me, or the negative guy below. Believe ORSON SCOTT CARD, who named this book the best SF novel of its year! Five stars.
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on May 14, 2002
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.
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on April 25, 2001
Robert Sawyer seems like a parody of what the world generally thinks about hard sf writers: boring, pedantic, with leaden prose, the psychological insight of a backward 11-year-old, and, at all times, an obviously greater concern for the intricacies of the science he's lecturing about than for the demands of story or character.
That last is a mixed blessing, as he writes in LOTS of science detail to show off his research, BUT he feels free to break the laws of physics when they get in the way of how he wants things to turn out. This tends to weaken the solitary strength he commands.
Despite the awards he's been nominated for and won, I feel strongly that Sawyer is the James Fenimore Cooper of our time. I just wish that someone with the verbal acuity and wit of Mark Twain were around to as carefully elucidate Sawyer's literary offenses. And, it is important to remember, there are folks who love the fantasies of Cooper.
I read Sawyer's "Starplex" because it was nominated for a Hugo. I read this one because a number of folks told me I was off the mark on Sawyer, and should try something else he'd written. I should have been warned by the title of this one--I certainly felt I'd been fleeced.
If you like the works of such writers as Hal Clement, Arthur C. Clarke, or Isaac Asimov: AVOID THIS BOOK!
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on October 21, 1999
This is the only Robt. J. Sawyer book I didn't have. It's been Out Of Print for many years, but now it's back--hooray! I read it in one sitting and enjoyed it 100%. On the cover it Charles deLint is quoted as saying, "It's hard to believe this was Sawyer's first effort," and that's true. It reads just as well as his more recent books. A great combo of mystery and sci-fi, and a really good (and not at all dated) book abt artificial intelligence (AI).
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on November 16, 1999
I thought this was a terrific book, really well done with good characters and good plot, and lots of nifty speculations about A.I. Sawyer has clearly read Minsky and other A.I. theorists, and does a great job creating his thinking computer, JASON.
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on June 5, 2016
Decent quality copy, took a while to deliver.
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