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The Terminal Experiment Paperback – April 12, 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Dr Peter Hobson, a successful businessman and bio-technology engineer, has created an EEG orders of magnitude more sensitive than all of the machines currently available. When he uses his scanner to detect an electrical field leaving the body after death, which he calls the "soul wave", he then collaborates with his best friend, an AI specialist, to create three computer simulations of his own brain - one modified to represent the spirit, or life after death; a second, modified to have no concept of death or aging, representing immortality; and the third left untouched as a scientific control. The self-determining simulations escape from the confines of the AI lab's computers into the world wide net and the murders begin. One of them is a murderer but the question, of course, is which one, why and how to stop it?
Sawyer's clever literary device of using snippets from newscasts and magazine or newspaper articles is not only entertaining but it places the issues he has chosen to address in his novel into a global context and hypothesizes on the effects that these types of discoveries would have on a worldwide scale ... at once thought provoking, amusing, sobering and educational!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Perfect for a movie, in fact I believe there was a movie based upon the main plot of the book. Robert j. Sawyer is terrific.Published 4 months ago by Paurik
Interesting ideas, not very fully explored. Felt more like a novella than a novel.Published 22 months ago by John Bunnell
It was a fascinating story and very futuristic. I just love how Sawyer develops a story.
I'm now looking to buy the next set of his books.
The Terminal Experiment has a great premise but, unfortunately, the blurb on the back paints a much different picture as to what the novel is about. Read morePublished on May 2, 2014 by Wayne Klein
Robert Sawyer deals with some important and controversial themes, so I suppose I should not have been surprised that he wrote this one about Dr. Read morePublished on March 25, 2014 by Barbara Frederick
I found this book to be rather mediocre however it was still entertaining. The concept is interesting however towards the end the the author seems to support the idea that morality... Read morePublished on February 11, 2014 by Trev
After the death of Isaac Asimov, and since Larry Niven hasn't written much worth reading in the last two decades, I feared that I was going to be stuck re-reading some of my... Read morePublished on January 3, 2014 by Amazon Customer
Some R. Sawyer books are just an amazing trip of creativity, specially for people who love serious thinking about Human developments. This is definitely one of his best books.Published on December 4, 2013 by Miguel Hirsch G.
I'm highly surprised that this novel managed to win a Nebula. I've expected much better. The philosophical subject of the novel is the brain death, and sorry, but all its... Read morePublished on August 23, 2013 by Sergey Babkin