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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagination, innovation and stimulation, 8 Aug 2004
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Iterations (Paperback)
Reading Robert Sawyer is always a heady experience. Those who know his work will be prepared for innovative thinking, excellent prose style and realistic characters. Underlying those skills will be his insistence that the scientific and technical base of his stories will be solid. This collection, covering several years of short story publication, is vivid testimony to his abilities. Nearly two dozen sterling pieces demonstrate why Sawyer is at the top rank among speculative fiction writers. Each is introduced by a commentary on about the story's inspiration or publication history. He has his own favourites, but ranking them is strictly a reader's pleasant task.
The title piece, "Iterations" is illustrative of Sawyer's conceptual reach. The issue of "alternative" universes is a topic of active debate among physicists. It's one Sawyer has dealt with elsewhere. Beyond the question of how they can come about, there are social issues that arise. If we learn to detect alternative spheres of existence, what human judgments are likely to follow. This story enters that murky realm with vivid imagination and solid logic. What decisions might you have to make if you discovered there were other versions of you?
Even deeper social issues are considered in "Just Like Old Times". As lifespans extend through better health services and a larger work force retires early, what decisions will have to be made to protect depleting resources. While this question seems a departure from the normal run of "speculative fiction" [and Sawyer rarely strays into the arena of "space opera"] he uses this to raise some disturbing questions. In this story of justice, time travel [except not really] and a disturbed human psyche, Sawyer demonstrates how the unanticipated can result in the best intentions running wild. In some respects, this tale could fit just as easily in the "horror" genre due to its conclusion.
Rather than draw you through a turgid exposition of Sawyer's imagination, pick up this book and find out for yourself. Those who still feel "SF" is a minority genre could learn much from this collection. Speculative fiction offers opportunities to stimulate thinking about many questions in many ways. Even better, if offers some fresh questions to consider. Sawyer is a master at getting at the heart of issues considered but fleetingly by most. Read him and find out why so many readers pick up his works on release dates.
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Iterations: And Other Stories
Iterations: And Other Stories by Robert J. Sawyer (Paperback - 31 July 2009)
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