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A Question of Mind
The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer
© 2012 James LaFond
The Terminal Experiment
Robert J. Sawyer
Ace, NY, 1995, 2011, 333 pages
This Nebula award-winning novel is about the cerebral chemistry of ethics, the implications of artificial intelligence, the search for the human soul, and the question of God. This was a lot to tackle in this single book, and there are some rough spots early on. All in all it is a compelling tale.
The weakness of hard sci-fi as a genre tends to be poor characterization. Mister Sawyer, in this, one of his earlier works, is already elevating himself above the field in this respect. It is not a George R.R. Martin style feast of characters, but it is populated by enough believable and sympathetic characters to draw in the general reader. The plot is purposefully transparent, which is another aspect of serious science fiction which is hard for some general readers to swallow. Although the Terminal Experiment is a ‘crime story’ it is not a ‘who done it’. The payoff is not the solving of the artificial intelligence committed crimes, but something bigger.
This kind of story is all about the ending, and the author nailed it. I look forward to sampling some more of his work.
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