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Search tags: Robert-J.-Sawyer
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review 2017-10-04 04:54
Red Planet Blues - Robert J. Sawyer

A private investigator on Mars gets hired by a beautiful 'transfer' (a human mind in an artificial body) to find her missing husband and gets himself into a whole lot of trouble. Written in the style of an old-fashioned detective story from the 1950s, the story was fun as a one-off but it feels like a kind of if-you've-read-one-you've-read-them-all and I wouldn't want to read another, it's not really my kind of thing. His speculative fiction is more up my street. 

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review 2017-03-08 07:47
Czy to jeszcze radosny idealizm, czy już okropna naiwność? Czyli o zakończeniu trylogii WWW
www.Wolność - Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer to jeden z moich ulubionych pisarzy SF. Jednak nie potrafię udawać ślepoty, i doskonale zdaję sobie sprawę, że końcówki jego książek (lub całych serii) bywają… specyficznie radosne, pełne nadziei, a w zasadzie to po prostu nierealne. Nie inaczej jest w przypadku długo wyczekiwanego zakończenia trylogii WWW, które ostatecznie zdecydowałem się kupić także w naszym ojczystym języku, mimo pewnych kontrowersji towarzyszących wydaniu tej powieści (ograniczona ilość, cena).

 

Istota nazywająca siebie Webmindem, czyli powstała w światowej sieci prawdziwa Sztuczna Inteligencja nie dała się pokonać i trwa. Aby uzmysłowić ludziom, że nie stanowi zagrożenia przygotowuje szereg zadziwiających projektów, które mnie osobiście wydawały się jednak zbyt przesadzone. Oto pojawia się twór, który mając do dyspozycji dane stworzone przez ludzi potrafi je zanalizować lepiej, i ot tak, po prostu, oferuje rozwiązania graniczące z cudem? Ale to tylko mój pierwszy problem z fabułą, drugim bowiem jest traktowanie przez autora ludzi jako istot z gruntu dobrych i rozsądnych. O ile można się zgodzić z takim postawieniem sprawy w przypadku tak zwanych „zwykłych ludzi”, ukazanie światowych agencji bezpieczeństwa jako skłonnych do kompromisu, rozważnych, trzeźwo myślących ludzi o analitycznych umysłach to absolutna przesada. W całym cyklu jest tylko jedna osoba aktywnie próbująca zwalczyć SI, i to razi, tak nie funkcjonuje świat. Sawyer chce pokazać nam dobro w nas samych, ale mógł się bardziej postarać, bo to, co prezentuje jest co najmniej naiwne, a momentami wręcz infantylne. Facet wydaje się być bezkrytyczny. Rozumiem powód, jasne, ale literatura oprócz ogromnej dawki idealizmu i nadziei powinna oferować też dobrą akcję, a „Wolność” momentami wygląda tak, jakby Arnold pod postacią T-800, ze strzelbą wymierzoną w moją czaszkę powiedział: „nie stanowię żadnego zagrożenia”, a ja odpowiadam z uśmiechem: „no przecież, trzymasz w ręce parasol”.

 

Na całe szczęście pod historią o przetrwaniu Webmindu zostało poruszonych nieco istotnych tematów, w tym ten o przemocy w sieci. Autor pozwolił sobie zanalizować potrzebę anonimowości w sieci nie atakując jej, i utrzymując, że w pewnych momentach jest niezbędna, że bez anonimowości sieć nie będzie już tym, za co ją kochamy. Zaprezentował jednak także mocne argumenty dla rezygnacji z „bezimienności” na rzecz podpisywania się pełnym imieniem i nazwiskiem, a nawet próbuje czarować pomysłem na weryfikację tożsamości, a wszystko w celu słusznym. Chyba warto sobie ten temat przemyśleć, bowiem pokolenie ludzi oglądających narodziny internetu jest dość odporne, ale ludzie młodzi, z internetem dorastający, reagują zupełnie inaczej, i potrzebuje czegoś, co ich obroni przed całym złem, jakie można tu spotkać.

 

To druga, po „Mindscan” książka Roberta J. Sawyera, do której mam tyle zarzutów. Co nie zmienia faktu, że obiektywnie jest bardzo dobra i szczerze całą trylogię polecam. Nie da się ukryć, że oferuje zupełnie inne przedstawienie Sztucznej Inteligencji niż to dotychczas znane z popkultury. I może warto takie podejście poznać, i samemu przemyśleć, bo czas powstania SI jest coraz bliższy.

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review 2017-02-16 00:00
Writers of the Future: Volume 33
Writers of the Future: Volume 33 - Anne McCaffrey,David Farland,Robert J. Sawyer,Todd J. McCaffrey,Larry Elmore,Bob Eggleton,L. Ron Hubbard,Stephen Lawson,Sean Patrick Hazlett,Preston Stone,Dustin Steinacker,Anton Rose,Doug C. Souza,Walter Dinjos,Jake Marley,C.L. Kagmi,Andrew Peery,Ville M I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think most of these stories were hampered by the fact that they were just that -- short stories. I'm confident that at least 90% of them would have been so much better had they had more length. So while I feel more or less bleh about this collection, I'd definitely look out for more works by the various authors.

Because it's fantasy and sci-fi, world-building is usually necessary, and often this resulted in a lot of info-dumping that had my eyes going skew and tech talk that went right over my head. I'm not saying it wasn't necessary or done bad, but it did feel clumsy and rushed and detracted from the story itself. I don't know if there was a word limit to these stories, but I would have appreciated more time with each.

Moonlight One by Stephen Lawson - When Gwen's husband is found murdered, she's the only suspect. After all, they were the only two people on the moon: Decent sci-fi murder mystery begging for it's own full length novel. Writer has an engaging writing style that let me gloss over any holes in the story. ★★★★

The Armor Embrace by Doug C. Souza - Flora's father is a mech-soldier of the Slayer Class, but how much of him is really left inside the machine?: It had a very interesting concept, and probably would have worked better as a longer length novel. Leaves you with a lot of questions. ★★

Envoy in the Ice by Dustin Steinacker - When an alien with godly intelligence is discovered watching the earth, one man must try to learn if its motives are pure: The blurb is kind of misleading, but not completely off. A lot of unanswered questions that could be explored in a longer novel. ★★★

The Devil's Rescue by L. Ron Hubbard - If you were stranded in an open boat and the only hope for rescue came from a ghost ship, would you dare to ride?: Bleh... the language was a bit pretentious, and the story was kinda boring. ★★

Tears for Shulna by Andrew L. Roberts - Some gifts come with heavy price tags, and the giver must rise to the occasion.: I need more of this! More Selkies! This story was too short though. ★★★★

The Drake Equation by C.L. Kagmi - What if an alien asks for your help with a question, and the answer fects the future of the whole human race?: Hmmm... I literally can't remember this story...

Acquisition by Jake Marley - Barlow has a talent for finding the dead. Or do they find him?: Pretty good, would also make a good series. ★★★★

Obsidian Spire by Molly Elizabeth Atkins - When Varga sets out to explore the ancient stronghold of a long dead wizard, she discovers that the ruins aren't as deserted as she thought.: Loved this one! Would love more by this author and even this story... maybe a prequel! ★★★★★

Gator by Robert J. Sawyer - If only that reptile in the sewer were something as predictable as an alligator.: Uhm... no... maybe it was because of the length limit, but this just fell completely flat and was insensible. ★

A Glowing Heart by Anton Rose - On a distant world among the cloud peaks, the light-hawks promise a rich reward for those daring enough to harvest one.: Not much to say about this one, but it was very good. ★★★★

The Long Dizzy Down by Ziporah Hildebrandt - In a world where memories can be stripped, Bill discovers that he has a family he has never known.: Didn't even read this one. Couldn't stomach the writing ★

The Woodcutters' Deity by Walter Dinjos - Not all spirits have the best of intentions, and they must be dealt with.: This was also very good. Definitely would want more about the mythology here. ★★★★★

The Dragon Killer's Daughter by Todd McCaffrey - You can put an end to something wondrous, but only at a cost.: Meh... didn't really make any sense ★★

Useless Magic by Andrew Peery - In a life-or-death situation, sometimes you wish that you had a really powerful spell. But that begs the question - What is power?: A decent enough short story ★★★

Adramelech by Sean Hazlett - Some devils are as old as a dream, and more evil than men can imagine.: Didn't really feel this one either. Maybe if the author had more time it could have been better ★★★

The Fox, the Wolf, and the Dove by Ville Merilainen - When the world needs saving, three children are called to the task.: Probably my favorite of them all... coincidentally also the longest! ★★★★★

The Magnificent Bhajan by David Von Allmen - Can an aging sorcerer find a way to track down his old nemesis with the small bit of magic he has left, or is he just fooling himself?: Another bleh ★★★
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review 2016-11-16 00:40
Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer (Audiobook, abandoned)
Calculating God - Robert J. Sawyer,Jonathan Davis

Narrated by Jonathan Davis

 

Abandoned @ 15%

 

I thought I’d give this book a shot as an audiobook. I’d read it years ago, back when I actually enjoyed Robert J. Sawyer’s books, and I thought it would be a nostalgic kind of read that would get Toronto points. It did get Toronto points, but I found the narrator too annoying. He over-enunciated Toronto all the time and even managed to say North York in a way I found a bit weird. I’m not sure what it was, exactly, since I’m not entirely sure how you can pronounce North York in a funny way, but it did sound funny. He also spelled out CSIS (see-ess-eye-ess) instead of using the semi-acronym (see-siss) like you’re supposed to say it. I’m not entirely sure why CSIS had to pop up in the book other than to shout, “Look! I’m Canadian!” and they didn’t stick around for long, but it was still annoying.

 

Anyway, I give up. I don’t see why the narrator couldn’t have stuck to over-enunciating Toronto only when the alien said it and pronounce it more normally the rest of the time but obviously someone approved of his performance. At least the narrator used the acronym for the ROM instead of spelling it out. I would have given up a lot sooner if that had been the case.

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review 2016-08-24 16:18
Quantum Night / Robert J. Sawyer
Quantum Night - Robert J. Sawyer

Experimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined about his breakthrough in court, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life from twenty years previously—a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.

Jim is reunited with Kayla Huron, his forgotten girlfriend from his lost period and now a quantum physicist who has made a stunning discovery about the nature of human consciousness. As a rising tide of violence and hate sweeps across the globe, the psychologist and the physicist combine forces in a race against time to see if they can do the impossible—change human nature—before the entire world descends into darkness. 

 

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, there is a good, tense plot. On the other hand, there is an awful lot of philosophizing. Now, I’m the girl who sat through two lectures in a university philosophy class and then dropped that thing like a hot potato. It seemed to me like a bunch of pointless wrangling over things that a person should be sensible enough to know to do or not do without some complex philosophical position. I’ve since learned that not everyone is that sensible and that some people really do require being told to do the right thing.

So if you are interested Utilitarian philosophy and in exploring questions about how many people have a conscience & how many psychopaths wander through our world, and you also have an abiding love of quantum physics, this will be a 5 star novel for you.

Me, I appreciated some of the details outside the main plot points. I live in Calgary and we currently have the first Muslim mayor in Canada, Naheed Nenshi. He’s a pretty popular mayor (and his religion was never an issue during elections). Sawyer is writing about the near future (2020) and has Nenshi becoming Prime Minister of Canada, something that I could truly see coming true. Heck, I’d vote for him. And Nenshi is an avowed nerd, so I would imagine that he has read this book.

The political background to the action was fun—how many books do you read where the United States invades Canada? And then Russia’s Putin and the American president (tactfully not named after any current figures) get into a power struggle, with Putin being willing to “liberate” Canada? Pretty ironic, after Crimea, yeah?

I often feel like I’m being held at emotional arms-length by Sawyer’s writing. Rob Sawyer is an intellectual guy and I completely appreciate the amount of research he did (how many novels have a bibliography at the end?) and the complex issues being dealt with, but I never really found myself caring a great deal. Finishing the book was driven by the mechanics of the story, not by an emotional need to see how things ended.

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