The terminal experiment Paperback – May 1995
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
"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.Read more ›
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?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book is even better than the FlashForward book written by the same author.
With only few words, we can quickly grasp the visual aspect and feel of the scene the... Read more
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. Read morePublished on Sept. 30 2013 by Scott Reine
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... Read morePublished on Aug. 14 2011 by darcmarc
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. Read morePublished on May 7 2007 by Larry Ketchersid
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. Read morePublished on May 6 2004 by Walter
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... Read morePublished on Dec 29 2003 by Donal T. Tighe
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.Published on Oct. 8 2002 by jordi trullols
4.5 out of 5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed The Terminal Experiment. Having won the Nebula award I was wary of it since most award winners never live up to the hype that is piled on... Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2002 by Hexanova
I got bored with this book to the point that I
started skimming through it. However, Robert Sawyer's
book 'The End Of An Era' was great and I couldnt put
it... Read more