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Mindscan Paperback – Bargain Price, December 6, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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From Booklist

Jake Sullivan watched his father, suffering from a rare condition, collapse and linger in a vegetative state, and he's incredibly paranoid because he inherited that condition. When mindscanning technology becomes available, he has himself scanned, which involves dispatching his biological body to the moon and assuming an android body. In possession of everything the biological Jake Sullivan had on Earth, android Jake finds love with Karen, who has also been mindscanned. Meanwhile, biological Jake discovers there is finally another, brand-new cure for his condition. Moreover, Karen's son sues her, declaring that his mother is dead, and android Karen has no right to deprive him of his considerable inheritance. Biological Jake, unable to leave the moon because of the contract he signed, becomes steadily more unstable, until finally, in a fit of paranoia, he takes hostages. Sawyer's treatment of identity issues--of what copying consciousness may mean and how consciousness is defined--finds expression in a good story that is a new meditation on an old sf theme, the meaning of being human. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Praise for Mindscan:

"Sawyer lucidly explores fascinating philosophical conundrums."
--Entertainment Weekly

"A tale involving courtroom drama, powerful human emotion and challenging SF mystery. Sawyer juggles it all with intelligence and far-reaching vision worthy of Isaac Asimov."
--Starlog

"Sawyer deftly examines what a future might be like in two neighboring countries that have become polar opposites. And he focuses on the legal and moral ramifications involved in various definitions of humanity in an intriguing and stylistically fine story. Grade: A."
--Rocky Mountain News

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The latest book club pick from Oprah
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (December 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765329905
  • ASIN: B008SLPT3G
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,244,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on April 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book shows why Robert Sawyer is today's pre-eminent science fiction writer. Always keeping speculation in tight rein, he nevertheless exhibits a wide-ranging imagination. His stories are always a good read, yet filled with information. He understands the human condition, displaying that insight with a variety of characters. Even the protagonist-narrator isn't entirely predictable. Others, who seem understandable [but never a stereotype!], spring surprises. He builds the episodes of this story with finesse - no small feat given the characters are 400 thousand kilometres apart.

Jake Sullivan, scion of a Toronto brewery fortune, has a problem. The blood vessels in his brain might unexpectedly explode. It happened to his father during a family fight. The result isn't terminal. It leaves the victim in a vegetative state. Jake decides to take advantage of a new technology to bypass the threat. He'll have his mind scanned and his consciouness copied into an almost indestructible artificial body. Immortality, that quest so long followed by fragile humanity, may be imminent. His "shed skin", the original, flawed body, will be shipped to the far side of the Moon to live luxuriously until "natural causes" prevail. The relocation abandons a lonely dog, a confused girlfriend and a concerned mother.

As might be expected, a threat looms. Give a lawyer an opening and another courtroom drama enfolds. What says the law on two minds of one person? Sawyer has done courtroom scenes before in "Illegal Alien". He surpasses himself with this one as the concepts of consciousness are thoroughly explored by the contending sides. Sawyer is at his best in having characters explain philosophical or scientific stances.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert J. Sawyer's "Mindscan" tackles the human dream of immortality with a twist. Think for a moment what you would do if you could upload your mind, your very being, into a durable, android-like body. In Sawyer's futuristic world, the Immortex Company allows the wealthy to do that. However, your human body is shipped to the dark side of the moon to live out your natural life in luxury. When you die, your uploaded self can live on for an eternity back on earth.

Immortex doesn't bother with informing the uploaded copy that the real one has died. But due to a bizarre coincidence, the death of prominent writer Karen Bessarian (who uploaded her mind due to old age)is reported to her flesh and blood son, who didn't particular care for her uploaded form. He forces the matter into Probate Court for the reading of the will. The uploaded Karen says, "No way, I'm still alive" and the matter becomes what amounts to the trial of the 21st Century.

In the meantime Jake Sullivan uploads his mind because he had a rare, incurable disease. Wouldn't you know it? They find a cure and he demands to go back to Earth and continue his life but Immortex puts the kibosh on that idea.

Sawyer writes great Science Fiction and presents it in such a way that it sounds almost plausible. His characters are real and believable. His plots move along smoothly and are easy to read. The trial scene is gripping. It's no wonder that he has won Hugo's and Aurora's and has been nominated for Nebulas. "Mindscan," which is actually an embellished version of his Analog short story "Shed Skin," fits right into the award-winning category. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert J. Sawyer returns to his most typical format: a novel that digs into the human consequences of a plausible technological innovation. And very good it is! _Mindscan_ is SF in the classic mode of Asimov, Heinlein, early Niven, and those guys--a thorough and involving speculation, a good story, and a novel that will get you to ask some interesting questions. The setup has been used before (Greg Egan, for instance, is a recent practitioner), but Sawyer gives us a much better look at how real people might really feel than any other example I've seen.

The best part of _Mindscan_ is its fair-minded and articulate presentation of both sides of the issue. (This almost counts as a Sawyer trademark; other authors should take note.) This is a great technique in a what-if novel. It brings you, the reader, into the story, and makes you wonder: What do I believe? Would it really work that way? Is that a valid argument? And, most fundamentally, what would *I* do?

If _Mindscan_ has a weakness--or, at least, a lack of strength--it's in the resolution. It's not that it's badly done; a lesser writer, for instance, would introduce a technological fix that makes everything come out happy, and Sawyer doesn't do that. However, the ending neither (a) resolves the questions raised in the book, nor (b) demonstrates that they're fundamentally unresolvable. Instead, the characters are allowed to postpone dealing with them. They avoid the issues, instead of either deciding them or coming into conflict over them. After such a strong set-up, I'd have liked a more thought-provoking climax.

There *is* a little bit of a surprise ending. However, it concerns a subplot which is a minor contributor to the rest of the book.
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