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The Terminal Experiment Mass Market Paperback – 30 Aug 2011


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books (30 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441020801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441020805
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.5 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 424,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Amazon Review

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 ageing 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer has been selling science fiction stories since 1979 but took a long detour into the world of magazine and corporate writing before starting to write SF novels. His original ambition was to be a palaeontologist so its not surprising that dinosaurs feature so prominently in his work. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 24 Feb 2006
Format: Paperback
Sawyer has made a bold, and generally successful, attempt to raise the genre of speculative fiction above the 'space opera' level. Merging a wealth of science and technical publications with a philosophical drama, he's launched a fresh approach to sf prose.
The story relates the life of Peter Hobson, who becomes a specialist in brain signal detection after witnessing a corpse reacting to an organ transplant operation. His research discloses that the brain indeed possesses something that seems to transcend death. Pursuing that issue, he records his own brain signals, creating three identities. Meanwhile, Hobson's a lovely, devoted, wife betrays him with a creep, devastating him. The result is mysterious deaths, a world reaction to his discovery and some heavy discussion on human values.
The debate over human consciousness, whether it exists, whether it's unique in the animal kingdom and whether it has a long term essence, remains ongoing and intense. Works on evolution and sociobiology are permeated with the question of whether our ability to communicate ideas reflects the existence of a spiritual element in humanity. Ever since early humans could perceive the idea of death the question of 'what happens after' has dominated our thinking. Sawyer makes a good effort to deal with the first part of the question: yes, there's something there, and it's not limited to humans. As to the afterlife, Sawyer raises the question, then leaves it for a later book or someone else to decide.
The many comments below about Sawyer's characters reflect the maturity of his prose style. Readers looking for simplistic people and predictable action are not pandered to in this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe on 14 Jan 2008
Format: Hardcover
Going back through time, I just finished Terminal Experiment, winner of the prestigious science fiction Nebula Award in 1995, after having read all of Robert Sawyer's book since his "Calculating God" (2000) in sequence. The subject matter, how technological advances can extend life beyond the usual lifespan has been a major topic in his most recent books, "Mindscan" and "Rollback". Terminal Experiment, Sawyer stated at the time, was "an exercise in determining what a human mind might be like if it were aware either that it would live forever or that it was already dead."

"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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Larry Ketchersid on 7 May 2007
Format: Hardcover
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. This novel won the Nebula and was a Finalist for the Hugo.

Frankly, I do not see why.

The story is based on two scientific premises: detection of the soul leaving the body and computer based artificial intelligence. Detection of the soul leads to experiments in AI to determine what life after death might be like. Dr. Peter Hobson, the inventor of the "soulwave" detection, uses AI and nueral net scanning to create three versions of himself: a life after death sim, an immortality sim and a control sim that is just like him. Hobson has some issues to deal with in his personal life (I won't play spoiler here), and those issues are duplicated into the three sims. One of them goes bad, and starts using the net to kill people.

Sawyer's claim to fame is that he will take premises like this and wrap very real characters around them. The concept of science fiction is in making both the science and the fiction work for the reader. Many writers tend to forget this, either throwing out unbelievable science or getting the science right but forsaking the characters or the plot. Sawyer is normally magic in this.

The Terminal Experiment is a good read, with nice pacing. It bogs down at times in the explanations of the science, and some of the philisophical discussions of the AI's. But the concept of killer AI computers has been hashed and re-hashed (remember HAL!), as has the concept of detecting something that proved life after death. And unlike other Sawyer novels, I had difficulty caring about the characters, esp. Cathy, Peter's wife.

I'm glad I read it, but I'm gonna go now and read Hominids, Humans and Hybrids, his classic Neaderthal Parallax series.
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