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Rollback [Kindle Edition]

Robert J. Sawyer
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Praise for "Rollback" "A novel to be savored by science-fiction and mainstream readers alike." --"Toronto"" Globe & Mail" "This is what SF is supposed to be about: Discovery as carried out by real people. A joy to read; a superb novel." -- Jack McDevitt, author of "Odyssey"" ""Likeable characters facing big ethical dilemmas . . . [a] smoothly readable near-future SF novel." -"Publishers Weekly", starred review "Sawyer's near-future speculative fiction reveals many advances in medicine and robotics. But it's the humanness of the closeness (and the distance) between Sarah and Don that makes "Rollback" an early candidate for sci-fi book of the year." -"Kansas City Star"

Product Description

Dr. Sarah Halifax decoded the first-ever radio transmission received from aliens. Thirty-eight years later, a second message is received and Sarah, now 87, may hold the key to deciphering this one, too . . . if she lives long enough.
      A wealthy industrialist offers to pay for Sarah to have a rollback--a hugely expensive experimental rejuvenation procedure. She accepts on condition that Don, her husband of sixty years, gets a rollback, too. The process works for Don, making him physically twenty-five again. But in a tragic twist, the rollback fails for Sarah, leaving her in her eighties.
      While Don tries to deal with his newfound youth and the suddenly vast age gap between him and his wife, Sarah struggles to do again what she'd done once before: figure out what a signal from the stars contains. Exploring morals and ethics on both human and cosmic scales, Rollback is the big new SF novel for 2007 by Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Robert J. Sawyer.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 395 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0765311089
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (3 April 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003JH8670
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #88,487 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer has been described as Canada's answer to Michael Crichton. Critically acclaimed in the US he is regarded as one of SF's most significant writers and his novels are regularly voted as fan's favourites. He lives in Canada.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind and body 8 April 2007
You have to be a certain age before you will consider whether you want to be young again and live your life again. Sarah and Don are octogenarians and, after a full and contented life with children and grandchildren, have options to change their lives that we rarely dream of. However, Sarah, Dr. Halifax, is not just anybody. She is a well-known scientist who, back in 2009, had deciphered the first message from Sigma Draconis, a star system some nineteen light years away from Earth. Now, thirty-eight years later, the response to Earth's message is received and nobody can break the encryption code. Can Sarah do it again and will she live long enough to make it happen?

Cody McGavin, chief of a robotics company and always on the lookout for new technological discoveries is one the richest people around. He is convinced that Sarah is vital to decoding the message now and also for future message exchanges with "her Dracon pen pal". It is 2048 and, thanks to a process of DNA resequencing and some other "tuck" jobs, it has become possible to literally roll back a person's biological body to the prime of their life, around age 25. The procedure is experimental and only for the super-rich, like McGavin himself. He is willing to pay for Sarah to have this chance at another lifespan. It's not something she accepts lightly, insisting that her husband of 60 years, Don, is included in the offer. They both undergo the procedure which is successful for Don but not for her.

While in Sawyer's previous bestseller, Mindscan, life could be extended thanks to copying a complete brain map onto the bionic body, in Rollback advances in medicine are the solution. Here the ethical question is not so much who is the real person, but how do you harmonize an octogenarian brain with a 25-year old physique?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biological time machine 30 April 2007
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
One of science's more frustrating endeavours has been the quest to find other intelligent species. Dolphins and whales communicate with squeaks, while chimpanzees and orang utans use tools for various purposes - usually dinner. This is doubly tantalising - humans aren't all that unique, but neither of these lifeforms offers much in the way of philosophical dialogue. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence was founded a half-century ago to search elsewhere for somebody to talk to. The search was among the stars.

In this well-conceived and executed tale, Robert J. Sawyer has speculated on the possible results of "listening in" on the Cosmos. A major problem in interstellar communication is that distance equals time. If a planet circling a star 18.8 light years distant wants to chat, it's 37.6 years between responses. SETI had triggered a "first contact" which was translated by Canadian astronomer Sarah Halifax and a reply transmitted. Now, nearly four decades later, whoever lives near Sigma Draconis has answered back. For some reason, the "Dracons" have encrypted the message. Sarah is in her eighties, yet it's clear that she's the best candidate to deal with the new message. At her age can she cope with the intense labour involved in the exercise?

Help is at hand from the science studying aging. An entrepreneur interested in SETI has agreed to fund the means to extend Sarah's life so that she can work on the encrypted message. Sarah, and her husband Don will have their aged bodies "rolled back" to a more youthful physical age. It's like starting life over with almost endless possibilities. The "rollback" process, though tried on only a couple of hundred people, is "foolproof". But while it works on Don, it fails on the person needing it most - Sarah.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Support DRM-free products 27 Jun 2014
By Mikey
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've literally just seen the book and bought it, having no idea what it's like other than I like previous stories from this author (FlashForward especially). Why? Because the author has specifically asked for the shackles of Digital Rights Management (DRM) not to be applied to this book.

Collectively, this sends an important message about not abusing your customers with DRM and helps to apply pressure to remove it, over time. Hence, I urge as many people as possible to buy products without DRM, whether they be books, software, music or movies wherever possible. When you do, please try to write a comment like this too, if you can.
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Format:Kindle Edition
In 2009, I read my first Robert J. Sawyer novel—Calculating God (2000)—which I enjoyed for its plethora of science yet panned for its stereotypes and a laundry list of annoyances: “near-millennial pop-culture references, science fiction trivia, extensive homage paid to the late Carl Sagan and facts surrounding the real Royal Ontario Museum”. Little did I know, Rollback would gather these same elements around an entirely different plot; yet, regardless of the who, what, when, where and why of the plot, the entire novel feels like a paint by numbers novel—a pushover, an easy read.

Rear cover synopsis:
“Dr. Sarah Halifax decoded the first-ever radio transmission received from aliens thirty-eight years ago. Now, a second message is received, and Sarah, not eighty-seven, may hold the key to deciphering this one, too… if she lives long enough.

A wealthy industrialist offers to pay for Sarah to have a rollback—a hugely expensive rejuvenation procedure. She accepts on the condition that Don, her husband of sixty years, gets a rollback, too. The process works for Don, making him physically twenty-five again. But in a tragic twist, the rollback fails for Sarah, leaving her in her eighties.

While Don tries to deal with his newfound youth and the suddenly vast age gap between him and his wife, Sarah heroically struggles to figure out what a signal from the stars contains before she dies.”


It has long been thought that the first message from an alien race would be the passing of information vital to bootstrap the human race into technological perfection, to provide all of humankind’s questions with a simple yet benevolent heaven-sent answer. However, the first message was anything but.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Rollback
Robert J. Sawyer is definately worth a read! All of his work - not just this book. Rollback is yet another example of Sawyer's excellent style. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mike Travis
4.0 out of 5 stars instantly engaging and intellectually rigourous
Sawyer's stories are usually good fun to read. This is no exception. This time around there are two issues looked at. Read more
Published on 4 Jan 2012 by D. R. Cantrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Not afraid to take an unpopular stand.
Rollback is the follow-up novel of Mindscan. In Rollback there is a second extraterrestrial message, and again it is up to Sarah Halifax to decipher it. Read more
Published on 24 May 2010 by A. P. J. Jansen
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm a Robert Sawyer fan...I am.....
I really do like Mr Sawyer's books, but the 'formula' is getting tiresome. It's not a plot formula that leaves me weary - it's the pacing. Read more
Published on 3 May 2010 by Me read
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating idea let down by poor characterization
This novel has a fascinating idea at its core: the possibility of turning back a body clock and restoring someone to physical youth (age 25) while retaining their psychological age... Read more
Published on 8 May 2009 by K. Hickman
4.0 out of 5 stars new life crisis
a new novel from science fiction writer robert j sawyer. his books usually are near future set and feature characters going through life changes against a background of cutting... Read more
Published on 21 Mar 2009 by Paul Tapner
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Scenario
Sarah Halifax has the knack of de-coding Alien transmissions, but since those transmissions are 38 years apart she goes through an age rejuvenation program known as ROLLBACK. Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2008 by Mr. John Frank Herbert
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable
Sad, funny, serious all in one. Quite a clever story about getting old and how society treats you. Like all of Sawyers books, the science is fascinating and the information parts... Read more
Published on 11 April 2008 by PJ Online
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
This is very readable even for a non si-fi fan. The thought provoking Story unfolds along two timelines, ensuring you read "just one more chapter". Read more
Published on 6 Jan 2008 by Koolfish
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