The Terminal Experiment and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Terminal Experiment Hardcover – April 12, 1995

See all 18 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$12.36 $0.01
Paperback, Import
"Please retry"
Audio CD
"Please retry"


Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "The Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins (April 12, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061053104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061053108
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews 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 aging 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.

About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer has been called “the dean of Canadian science fiction” by The Ottawa Citizen.

He is one of only seven writers in history—and the only Canadian—to win all three of the world’s top awards for best science-fiction novel of the year: the Hugo (which he won in 2003 for Hominids), the Nebula (which he won in 1995 for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won in 2005 for Mindscan).

In total, Rob has authored over 18 science-fiction novels and won forty-one national and international awards for his fiction, including a record-setting ten Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (“Auroras”) and the Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award, one of Canada’s most significant literary honors. In 2008, he received his tenth Hugo Award nomination for his novel Rollback.

His novels have been translated into 14 languages. They are top-ten national mainstream bestsellers in Canada and have hit number one on the Locus bestsellers’ list.

Born in Ottawa in 1960, Rob grew up in Toronto and now lives in Mississauga (just west of Toronto), with poet Carolyn Clink, his wife of twenty-four years.

He was the first science-fiction writer to have a website, and that site now contains more than one million words of material.

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer -- called "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by the OTTAWA CITIZEN and "just about the best science-fiction writer out there" by the Denver ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS -- is one of eight authors in history to win all three of the science-fiction field's highest honors for best novel of the year: the Hugo Award (which he won for HOMINIDS), the Nebula Award (which he won for THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT); and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won for MINDSCAN).

Rob has won Japan's Seiun Award for best foreign novel three times (for END OF AN ERA, FRAMESHIFT, and ILLEGAL ALIEN), and he's also won the world's largest cash-prize for SF writing -- the Polytechnic University of Catalonia's 6,000-euro Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficcion -- an unprecedented three times.

In 2007, he received China's Galaxy Award for most favorite foreign author. He's also won twelve Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards ("Auroras"), an Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada, ANALOG magazine's Analytical Laboratory Award for Best Short Story of the Year, and the SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE Reader Award for Best Short Story of the Year.

Rob's novels have been top-ten national mainstream bestsellers in Canada, appearing on the GLOBE AND MAIL and MACLEAN'S bestsellers' lists, and they've hit number one on the bestsellers' list published by LOCUS, the U.S. trade journal of the SF field.

Rob is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences, teaches SF writing occasionally, and edits his own line of Canadian science-fiction novels for Red Deer Press.

His novel FLASHFORWARD (Tor Books) was the basis for the ABC TV series of the same name. He enjoyed spending time on the set and wrote the script for episode 19 "Course Correction."

His WWW trilogy, WAKE, WATCH, and WONDER (Ace Books), is all about the World Wide Web gaining consciousness.

Next up is TRIGGERS, April 2012. Set in Washington D.C., TRIGGERS is a science fiction political thriller about the nature of memory.

For more information about Rob and his award-winning books, check out his web page:

Customer Reviews

He has some good story ideas and I generally like his characters.
John B. Goode
This book won the Science Fiction Writers Association's Nebula Award, and it's easy to see why.
Donal T. Tighe
The main character is too perfect, aside from his judgemental snootiness.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Burgoine on July 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'll admit my bias up front: I'm a solid Robert J. Sawyer fan. I got hooked with "Factoring Humanity," sailed right through "Flashforward," "Starplex," and "Calculating God," then stumbled a bit with "Illegal Alien." Then I read "The Terminal Experiment."
I do like this book. It had some good strong characters, and had the usual Sawyer multiplot setup. When a man develops a machine capable of viewing the soul's release after death, the world changes overnight. The philosophical ramifications of this device have its creator wondering about what happens to the soul once it has left the body, and he produces an AI experiment: he creates three copies of his own mind to exist in cyberspace: one with no memory of physical existance (to simulate life after death), one with no knowledge of aging or mortality (to simulate immortality), and one unmodified, as a sort of scientific "control."
Then, people with whom Hobson has 'personality conflicts' start showing up dead, and it seems that all three Hobson-AIs have escaped their cybernetic boxes. One of them is a killer.
Weaving multiple plots together is usually a forte of Sawyer, but in "The Terminal Experiment," it's not so tightly woven. The plots of the family troubles of Hobson, against the "soul-wave" device, and the murder mystery, don't always link together as tightly as they could. Still, I quite enjoyed his book, as always, and if nothing else, the philosophical debates of the three AIs, and what they represent, was a real thought-provoker.
If you're new to Sawyer, start with something else, such as "Flashforward" or "Factoring Humanity" or "Calculating God." If you've read him before, be prepared for a stylistically weaker plot, but a good read nonetheless.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Robert James on July 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've spent most of my life reading science fiction; I've read almost everything written before 1980, and a huge chunk of what's come since then. What I've loved most about the genre -- after the guilty pleasures of space opera -- is its capacity to take the unanswerable questions and try to answer them. Too often, the questions we want to know the answers to -- what is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What happens to us after we die? -- are either unanswerable or fully realized in religion. So, for a science fiction writer to contemplate the nature of the soul and the afterlife, he runs two risks: one, that he will come up with ridiculous, unproveable answers, or two, that he will utterly infuriate one or more of the established religions. To Robert Sawyer's immense credit, he does neither. He constructs a fascinating premise: what if the soul could be proved to exist, and be proved to be heading somewhere after death? He then constructs another premise: he takes the protagonist's personality, and he makes three AI copies: one with no modifications, one that has all the bodily references deleted, and one with all the knowledge of aging and death deleted. That is his main story. The murder mystery that runs along side this plot is interesting, but it isn't the main point. Sawyer is asking the most important questions a human being can ask, and he's coming up with plausible answers. One of the paradoxes of science fiction is that its greatest books are religious in nature: "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Dune" are two excellent examples. And while "The Terminal Experiment" isn't quite up to that level (what is?), it is a worthy younger brother to those older giants.Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 2, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Robert Sawyer has moved to the forefront of Canadian SF writers, largely on the basis of this book and StarPlex, both multi-nominated tales. Neither is up to the quality of the outstanding Far Seer trilogy, but that's hardly damning. What Terminal Experiment offers is a series of ideas wrapped up in Sawyer's second attempt at the SF mystery. The first was Golden Fleece and the 'mystery' quality of this book doesn't quite live up to that early effort, in a discipline that Isaac Asimov called the most difficult in the field. But all that's back story to this book.

Terminal Experiment features Peter Hobson, a scientist with a creationist bent, who invents a measuring device for souls. This puts him at the fork of a series of Hobson's choices that eventually lead to an AI-induced nightmare. His solution is pedestrian. The joy of the book is in the conundrums of existence that are raised. Describe your last meal at a restaurant with a friend or loved one. Did you describe the scene from the vantage point of your seat or did you assume the role of a third-party on-looker? It's a little tidbit, but the kind of item that prompts discussion after the fact. And what better legacy can a book have?

Read Terminal Experiment not for the mystery or even the near-future SF. Read it for the chance to talk about things you never imagined could be part of your life.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The vitriol displayed in some of the reviews of this book amazes me. While the writing style may not give Updike or Bellow anything to worry about, when compared to some of the so-called giants in this genre, like Asimov, Clarke, and Niven, it holds up quite well.
Yes, there are some lapses such as: about 5 too many Star Trek references; a tendency to take today's media figures and just age them, instead of creating new people; and a lead character that seems a little too much like someone you'd bump into at a sci-fi convention. But some of the criticisms on this page are pretty unfounded. Someone criticised the lack of differences in technology between today and 2011 Just how much do you expect life to change in 14 years? Is your life today hugely different than it was in 1983? I think its great that in this version of the future people aren't riding anti-grav cars on the way to the space elevator. And perhaps the most insulting critique of all is that the book doesn't pay enough attention to the U.S., Europe, Japan. Why, this book even has the audacity to present the idea that a major discovery could be made in Canada! Amazing! How insultingly U.S.-centric is it to demand that Canadian writers set their stories in the U.S.?
This book isn't great literature, but it is very good sci-fi. It is full of fascinating ideas, a propulsive narrative with its share of surprises, and an interesting focus on morality. Don't miss this book because of the cranky comments listed on this page. This one deserved the Nebula it won.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?