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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind and body
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...
Published on 8 April 2007 by Friederike Knabe

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2.0 out of 5 stars A cheese platter of pop culture and author indulgence
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...
Published 5 months ago by M-I-K-E 2theD


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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating idea let down by poor characterization, 8 May 2009
By 
K. Hickman (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rollback (Mass Market Paperback)
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 (age 87).

Unfortunately, I found Sawyer's exploration of this idea two-dimensional and unconvincing, mainly because of the lack of character depth or psychological realism. The characters behaved in bizarre ways without any explanation and their behaviour was often contradictory. A lack of psychological realism is always annoying but it was a major shortcoming for this book because it became impossible to explore the underlying conflict between physical and mental age in any convincing or meaningful way.

The other annoying thing about the book was the really unpleasant way in which the main character acted. This is fine in some cases - I certainly do not need a perfect protagonist to enjoy a book. However, if an author chooses a main character whose morally dubious actions make him difficult to empathise with then surely the interest lies in exploring the impact of those actions on others? Instead it feels as though Sawyer simply glosses over the moral issue by giving his main character a "get-out-of-jail-free card" through a cheap and uncovincing plot device (in chapter 33 for anyone interested).

That said, this book was a real page-turner. It had a gripping plot and touched on some fascinating ideas and good philosophical discussions. The three-star rating is perhaps unfair, as it is based on other Sawyer novels, deserving of four or five stars, rather than books I have read in general (although characterization is never his strongest point). I was certainly never bored but I did come away irritated and feeling as though so much more could have been done with what was fundamentally a great idea.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars new life crisis, 21 Mar 2009
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rollback (Mass Market Paperback)
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 edge scientific advances and discoveries. and this one is no exception.

It's s stand alone novel complete in roughly 312 pages. the book is in two parts, and the first part runs for 95 pages.

the plot: [some of this may seem like a spoiler but it's all on the back of the book so it's not anything you won't learn should you get it]

don and sarah are a happily married couple in their eighties. the latter is famous for having successfully decoded a message from aliens years before. and now the world has received a reply to the reply that was sent back then. sarah could help decode it, but to give her the time to do it she is offered a medical treatment that de ages people. she insists on don getting it as well. it works on him. but not her. can the couple survive the age difference that has resulted? and can sarah decode the message?

don and sarah are good and quite likeable characters and their relationship is well portrayed in very readable prose. the narrative does flash back and forward a lot, flashbacks dealing with the time when she deocded the original message. the effect of the age difference is well portrayed and the characterisation is strong here. don does some things that may seem like the wrong decision and you can feel aghast with him doing those but you'll want to read on to know what happens next anyway.

the middle of the book does rather heavily concentrate on the relationship, the decoding of the new message lurking in the background rarely mentioned. and whilst the character story was very good I did feel I wanted to get back to dealing the message. But it all comes together very well in the last sixty pages, the truth about the new message being nicely unexpected.

there are a good few thought provoking moral debates on the way as well. the writing never lectures you but makes you think about them for yourself. which is the best way to do it.

a decent and quite memorable read all in all. it does contain a couple of bits of strong language and some adult situations so it may not be entirely suitable for younger readers
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, 11 April 2008
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This review is from: Rollback (Mass Market Paperback)
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 are well researched. I am curently wading through his whole output.
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Rollback
Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer (Mass Market Paperback - 27 Feb 2008)
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