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Factoring Humanity | [Robert J. Sawyer]

Factoring Humanity

In the near future, a signal is detected coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Mysterious, unintelligible data streams in for ten years. Heather Davis, a professor in the University of Toronto psychology department, has devoted her career to deciphering the message. Her estranged husband, Kyle, is working on the development of artificial intelligence systems and new computer technology utilizing quantum effects to produce a near-infinite number of calculations simultaneously.
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Publisher's Summary

In the near future, a signal is detected coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Mysterious, unintelligible data streams in for ten years. Heather Davis, a professor in the University of Toronto psychology department, has devoted her career to deciphering the message. Her estranged husband, Kyle, is working on the development of artificial intelligence systems and new computer technology utilizing quantum effects to produce a near-infinite number of calculations simultaneously.

When Heather achieves a breakthrough, the message reveals a startling new technology that rips the barriers of space and time, holding the promise of a new stage of human evolution. In concert with Kyle's discoveries of the nature of consciousness, the key to limitless exploration - or the end of the human race - appears close at hand.Sawyer has created a gripping thriller, a pulse-pounding tour of the farthest reaches of technology. Factoring Humanity is a 1999 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel.

©2003 Robert J. Sawyer (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[T]his is exciting, readable science fiction that will take you where no one has gone before - and you'll never forget the ending." (Amazon.com review)
"An intelligent and absorbing double-stranded narrative." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (279 )
5 star
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3.9 (246 )
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Story
4.1 (243 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 07-08-13
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 07-08-13 Member Since 2010

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Being Self-aware and being Selfish go Hand in Hand"

    THE THIRD EYE
    Sawyer has the third eye when it comes to science fiction, controversial subjects, aliens or first encounters. He has several books out on first encounters and they are all different and good. He also likes to step out and discuss controversial matters. Many Sci-Fi authors stay with the norm by putting down God and those who believe, jumping on the Global Warming band wagon or just whatever is the latest end of the world, man hating theme. In this book he does the politically incorrect thing and shows the side of the falsely accused man and how that will ruin his life, even if proven innocent.

    TONGUE AND GROOVE
    I knew exactly what RS was talking about when it comes to the third eye, in some things I have it and some I don't and wish I did. I liked the Over Mind and the way he described it. Mostly, I liked the controversial subject matter (Sexual Molestation, having false memories and planting false memories and the harm done by counselors).

    KNOWS JUST ENOUGH TO BE DANGEROUS
    I don't know much about counselors, therapists or psychiatrists, but I have family members who have been to counselors. It seems that counselors are the cheapest and less trained of the group. Most people who need this type of help are not well off financially, so end up going to counselors. They seem to know just enough to be dangerous and actually make matters worse. I honestly think there should be a law against them and people should be made aware of the damage they can cause. It is also weird that most of the people I know who want to go in this line of work are the people who are the most screwed up themselves.

    This was one of my least favorites by Sawyer, but I am comparing Sawyer to Sawyer. Some of the science was a little over my head (not a hard thing to accomplish) and I have a hard time picturing spatial, extra dimension type stuff and there was a lot more of that in the book then I cared for. He also attempted to be a John Scalzi and crack some jokes, but only Leonard, Wolowitz and Sheldon would have laughed at them, I think. This was not bad, Sawyer has never written a bad book, but Illegal Alien, Calculating God and Flash Forward are better.

    The narrator did a professional job.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 05-10-13
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 05-10-13 Member Since 2010

    SamanthaG

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    "He can do better"

    Have to say that Sawyer handles aliens better than he does humans. I loved his "Calculating God", but I found this one a bit difficult what with his trying to deal with a somewhat dysfunctional human family and the resolution of marital and familial discord.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jamie Oakland, CA, United States 04-13-13
    Jamie Oakland, CA, United States 04-13-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Interesting Premise....a LIttle Sugary"
    What made the experience of listening to Factoring Humanity the most enjoyable?

    So this seems to be typical for Sawyer, great idea, don't worry I won't spoil it here, but always ends up a little sugary sweet for me. The 'tension' in his books, and this one is typical of this, just doesn't quite 'wind up' enough for me. The resolution is somewhat 'easy'... Happy Happy joy joy... Maybe it's a Canadian thing, but I wish for a little more conflict and difficulty in resolution.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Los Angeles, CA 03-20-13
    Amazon Customer Los Angeles, CA 03-20-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Good "read" - more than a sci fi techno-fest"
    Any additional comments?

    Well done on all levels. Perhaps a bit more far-fetched than I'd prefer but that's balanced by a nice study of personalities, particularly as involve marriage and family. Made me want to check out more by this author and performer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug in syd Sydney, Australia 02-28-13
    Doug in syd Sydney, Australia 02-28-13 Member Since 2011
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    "soap ie science"

    If you have read other sawyer titles and enjoyed them its a safe bet you'll enjoy this one it is one of his best. if you have not read sawyer before then consider his works feel a bit like a science lesson, with a story of moral humanity woven through it.

    This style is suprisingly easy to listen to even if you don't feel your a science geek. I find his characters both enjoyable and believable. and feel like they live on after the story is complete.

    This particular story deals with people recieving a message from outer space and basically not giving a toss about it

    then your hit with the sub plot which i found hits hard due to the excellent narration and subject matter. and so the dance begins, unable to put it down you soon find yourself taking sides and trying to second guess what will happen next. totally enjoyable give it a try

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JACOB 03-05-14
    JACOB 03-05-14
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    "APPALING!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Not sure this book is for anyone. Horrible hodgepodge of science, mathematics and psychology held together by incest/sexual child abuse.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert J. Sawyer again?

    never


    What three words best describe Katherine Kellgren’s performance?

    decent enough


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    no. it was absurd


    Any additional comments?

    'nuff said!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joan YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY, United States 03-16-13
    joan YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY, United States 03-16-13 Member Since 2006

    71 year old avid reader using either my eyes or ears. I make earrings that I donate to shelters and while I work, I listen to wonderful books. I also keep in mind that you have to kiss frogs to find princes - time's too short to bother with losers.

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    "Not fast enough"

    Okay, I'll admit it, I'm quick on the delete key. However, I strung along with this one until I was almost half-way through, then realized that, although I cared a bit about the main characters, I didn't have the patience to stick around until the author got to the point.
    A lot of blue pencil editing might have made this an enjoyable book, but, alas, that didn't happen.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connor 03-16-13
    Connor 03-16-13 Member Since 2011

    Enjoy the adventure

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    "Interesting Book on First Contact"

    Despite being the writer of “Wake”, which I hated because it was boring, I enjoyed Robert Sawyer’s “Factoring Humanity”. The book begins with the emotional struggles between a husband and wife in dealing with the suicide of their 20 year old daughter. Then their younger daughter drops a bomb on their lives. Very real, things are bad and then go to worse.

    While the book takes place in the near future, the science fiction sneaks up on the listener. Before I realized it, I was listening to an in-depth discussion on the possible uses for a quantum computer. My Physics professor would be proud of me.

    I enjoyed the 1st 80% of the book. The ending is sugary and utopian. Birds are singing and children dancing. Boring dribble with no surprises.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N Oakleigh South, Australia 03-07-13
    N Oakleigh South, Australia 03-07-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Lacks internal logical consistency"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Robert J. Sawyer sets up the story using the scientific method and evidence that stands up to strong scrutiny, great, but,... then dumps this when it suits him to leave an illogical mess. ie a story that makes no sense. If you are going to set up a story using the scientific method and evidence that stands up to strong scrutiny you need to follow it up with a story that is plausible, even if only a little.

    Also I just did not care about the characters, as I do in a Peter F Hamilton book, for example.


    Has Factoring Humanity turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No but I will try to return this book, and may be try another of his but if that fails to then it will put me off Robert J. Sawyer, which is a shame as I think he has potential.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Having a man reading it, as a man is the main character would have made more sense.

    And the woman's voice grated on me, and she over acted, and it was not a pleasant voice to listen to, it put me of my toast!

    Maybe I have just been spoiled by listening to John Lee.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Factoring Humanity?

    The premise of the whole story. He talks about I think people who can supposedly talk to the dead as evidence for the existence of a 4th dimension where the memories of the dead and the living are stored and anyone can access them, via a machine the aliens tell us how to build. But this makes no sense as there is no evidence that stands up to strong scrutiny for anyone being able to talk to the dead or for any supernatural phenomenon, including god, and the tooth fairy. Also fyi all the feelings you have are created by the brain including any so called religious or spiritual feelings, for example feeling that a powerful supernal entity has special plans just for you, or that you are part of a greater whole etc... They are not real, so don't become deluded.


    Any additional comments?

    If Robert J. Sawyer could get his act together he could be a half way decent writer.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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