In this novel, Sawyer takes a foray into transhumanism as the protagonist seeks to determine the significance of the newly discovered "soul wave", which leaves the body at death. Coupled with one of Sawyer's trademark characters, a scientist who's been badly hurt emotionally, the novel is both thought-provoking and entertaining, as well as astonishingly prescient given the decade in which it was written.
Four stars, easily.
Great exploration of what a mind is, but unlike most great sci-fi, he provides his own answers. Some of those answers, such as the existence of a soul, have no logic and close off discussion.
The worst reader/narrator in 50+ audiobooks I've listened to: monotone, no emotion, and lots of sounds provided by dry mouth sticking to itself.
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Yet again, another thought provoking book by Robert J Sawyer… but I expected no less!
The book was written in 1995 and was set about 20 years in the future - which means right about now. This was comical to read because we now know if his future predictions about our culture have come to pass.
He missed the mark on a few things like: Curbside Newspaper Printers, we don’t have VCRs anymore (although his VCR had all the same capabilities and programming parameters that our PVRs have), Donahue and Leno are no longer on air, and poor Peter Jennings passed away.
He got things right like: Queen Elizabeth II is still alive and well, that there would be a Pope Benedict XVI (impressive!) and electronic readers (did we envision reading tablets in the 90s? It’s so long ago I can’t remember.
Of course he did not predict the Iphone but he did conjure up video-phones.
Aside from the fun of picking those details apart, the story itself was a typical Sawyer-mind-bend. I love his books, they never ever disappoint!
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
Peter Hobson creates a scanner that can map the neural nets of the brain, and in the process discovers the soulwave. His wife reveals an affair she had. Hobson and his best friend Sarkar scan Peter's brain and develop three AIs to study immortality and life after death. Now, one of the AIs is behaving very badly. How can it be stopped?
Sawyer makes me think of John Scalzi. His writing isn't too good, but the story is entertaining.
Narrator Paul Hecht is OK but not great. He doesn't do women well and there is a general lack of excitement and suspense in his reading.
Computational cognition, ethics, transhumanism, etc.
No. The narrator would drink water without unkeying the microphone. Minimally acceptable. Good story carried me through.
Exploration of technical angles of the components of the mind.
Reading Fantasy and SCI-FI on audible.
This book covers many disparate topics from religion (existence of a soul) to determination of when someone is actually dead - for organ donation purposes. The technology discussed moves between things long gone (technologically speaking) to things that have not been done. The concept that one could record one's self and store in on the internet, turn it on and have a discussion with your self is kind of interesting. The fact that there are limitations to that recording vs the physical experience is not surprising.
The story carries well although a little weak on the ending. The reading is good and captured my attention. Overall a great performance.
A lover of contemporary, character driven sci-fi.
Good characters and a high-tension plot, very cohesive story. The end, however, was a bit anticlimactic, much like other Sawyer works. Still, it's not like I want that part of my life back or anything. Meh.
If I had to describe the book in a word, it would be "unoriginal."
The major concepts have been been tired for years, having been thoroughly explored in B grade television sci-fi anthologies (i.e. Outer Limits) and present nothing new. The characters have some minor depth, but are never developed enough for me to care about them, an essential feature in a book where the universe and vision of the future are hackneyed ideas. I don't recommend this book at all, unless you are specifically looking for something that feels like a made-for-TV SyFy channel movie extended into many hours of audio.