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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 (311 )
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3.9 (274 )
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4.1 (270 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Vera Canada 07-12-15
    Vera Canada 07-12-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Required Reading for a Thoughtful Mind"
    If you could sum up Factoring Humanity in three words, what would they be?

    Dare To Believe


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Ape. This character deserves to be listened to. This story is bigger then the characters.


    Which character – as performed by Katherine Kellgren – was your favorite?

    This narrator is perfect for all the characters. I can't pick a favourite.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Absolutely, I'm grateful there are authors with such thought provoking ideas.


    Any additional comments?

    Robert J. Sawyer does not mimic other writers. I personally believe he is the fiction writer that could open our minds and possibly invoke greatness in the minds of future leaders. Hopefully everyone reads his books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob Canada 04-13-15
    Rob Canada 04-13-15 Member Since 2008
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    57
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    "Well conceived"

    Sawyer wove a wonderful tale. The setup led smoothly into the plot. The main "what if" leap did not appeal to me but once I accepted it, I enjoyed the story. Fun to have a story set in Canada. The atheist character seemed shallow, but it was a more realistic portrayal of a non-believer than you usually see. The main character of Heather was very well written. I recommend the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    José J. Amador Port St. John, FL 03-06-15
    José J. Amador Port St. John, FL 03-06-15

    Folks, for audiobooks it's not just about the writer, it's also about the narrator...

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    "A Great SciFi Story - It Just Doesn't Deliver"

    I've read other Sawyer books and I was always impressed with his imagination of other star systems and species. Unfortunately, this book just doesn't delivery on either. It's mostly based here on Earth, and it's a really interesting idea but only in the academic sense. Try as he did to make a good story out of it, but it left me a bit disappointed overall.

    The narrator, Katherine Kellgren, did a fabulous job with the material she was given. She has a good range of voices and does a nice job of acting out the scenes. Kudos to her.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 07-08-13
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 07-08-13 Member Since 2015

    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
    2136
    ratings
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    729
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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

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    JLM Oakland, CA, United States 04-13-13
    JLM Oakland, CA, United States 04-13-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 09-27-14
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 09-27-14 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Artist Can Use Old Tools"

    The twin entwining plots of this tale are as classic as the names Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury. But look, plots are to writers as brushes are to painters. I don't know a composer who fails to diddle with key, or photographers who avoid negative space because others have used it. Nope… they're all tools.

    And so in "Factoring" Sawyer churns at least two mature hunks of red meat through his grinder, mixes them with clever spices, then cooks and presents the dish deliciously. If there's a problem it's that he's got a tendency here to get pretentious and a tad corny. But hey… corn sells with me, especially when it's popped, hot, buttered and salty.

    Katherine Kellgren's very good and perhaps, given the echoes from romance literature, we'll the book fits better into the mind and mouth of an excellent woman. Kellgren's made it her own.

    1 of 3 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

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