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The Terminal Experiment

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  2,441 ratings  ·  120 reviews
To test his theories of immortality and life after death, Dr. Peter Hobson has created three electronic simulations of his own personality. The first has all knowledge of physical existence edited out, to simulate life after death. The second is without knowledge of aging or death, to simulate immortality. The third is unmodified, a control. Now they are free. One is a kil ...more
Published 2004 by Easton Press (first published May 1995)
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Stephen
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Excellent read. Well thought out premise that was very well executed. Highly engaging, original story. Recommended

Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1996)
Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1996)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1996)
James
I loved Flashforward by Sawyer. This book was good, but not quite up to the same quality as that one. Still I enjoyed it a lot.

The Terminal Experiment took a little while to set up the story. The beginning wasn't uninteresting, just not specifically about what it proposed to be about. It did weed its way into that about halfway through and I ended up being satisfied.

This book begins with a scientist in Canada who develops technology to assess when a person actually dies (not just when the doctor
...more
Nicholas Whyte
http://nhw.livejournal.com/722787.html[return][return]This is not quite as bad a book as I had been led to believe. The prose is often leaden - in particular, the cringe-worthy opening passage which I think should be used as a model of how not to write in classes for impressionable young writers, and the numerous info-dumps idicating that the characters have read all the available scientific literature up to 1994 (which is a shame as most of the book is set in 2011). What appears to be the kille ...more
James
The Terminal Experiment

I have yet to read a bad Robert J. Sawyer tale! True, I have not read a lot of them – the WWW trilogy, Flashforward, Mindscan – yet the flavor of these later stories pretty much began with his first Nebula award-winning novel, The Terminal Experiment.

As the author explained in his preface, he wrote this in the 1990s during the infancy of the Internet and the World Wide Web and did not want to update the story, yet this does not majorly affect the relevancy of the story nor
...more
Sean Randall
Nobody does courtroom drama like Sawyer. Although there's a fair bit of technological misfiring (wasn't this 1995?) It's surprisingly cogent and enjoyable. Ending is very typical, though.
Allie
The Terminal Experiment is a mind-uploading murder mystery that revolves around the drama of scientist Peter Hobson’s personal life. Though the science is dated, I thought the central speculative ideas of the story—the proof of existence of a soul and the ability to electronically copy human minds—were really fun. I would have liked for the story to involve more of how these discoveries could affect society, rather than moving into a predictable mystery plot. All the same, Peter Hobson, and his ...more
Nicatel
Letto in italiano, col titolo "Killer on-line".
Uno dei primi romanzi di Sawyer, e probabilmente il primo ad essere stato tradotto in italiano. La vicenda contiene molti elementi che saranno comuni nei suoi romanzi: l'ambientazione canadese, il protagonista scienziato, i problemi in famiglia, l'intelligenza artificiale, la riflessione tra scienza e fede.
Il romanzo è piacevole da leggere, anche se è un po' discontinuo nel tema: parte con una vicenda (che non è quella presentata nell'imprecisa qua
...more
Jon
Reading Robert J. Sawyer's other work helped convince me of problems with the Hugo process. Since I was happier with the Nebulas I was surprised to see one of his novels on that list.

I will give the Nebulas this -- they gave the award to a 2-star book rather than a 1-star one. But, man, this guy can't write as well as he thinks he can.

"Pseudo was about fifty, and as slim as the Leafs' chances in the Stanley Cup."



Not so good stuff.
Winnie
Hubby reads a lot of science fiction and occasionally he reads one he considers so outstanding he just wants to share with me. He read this book recently for the second time (yes, he keeps his book and re-reads them....his science fiction "library" would rival a book store!). I'm not wild about the whole science fiction genre but I must admit that book had an interesting premise. It was written in 1995 and most of the book takes place in 2011. So to read a book in 2014 written in 1995 that takes ...more
Corwin
This is about as god as it can get in sci-fi: you're not getting dazzled by a Lance Burton sound-and-light show, you're not being swept down into a septic tank by cliché cookie-cutter formulaic plots and cardboard-cutout personas, and neither is your intelligence being insulted nor forced to bend itself around a stick steaming like a campfire biscuit roll. This story is beautiful, melancholy, humble, and so sincere only a Turing Test reject can walk away from the third chapter not shaking its he ...more
Matteo Pellegrini
Peter Hobson è un esperto in ingegneria biomedica, quarantenne, affascinato dai problemi della vita dopo la morte e dalle possibilità di sopravvivenza che la tecnologia offre alla personalità umana. E infatti tutto comincia quando Hobson realizza un coraggioso esperimento per verificare le sue teorie sull'immortalità, creando tre simulazioni elettroniche di se stesso. Al primo alter ego di Hobson è stata cancellata la memoria della sua esistenza fisica: è una simulazione dell'anima. Al secondo ...more
Matthew

The book reads like a second rate Robin Cook thriller. (And I've only read one Robin Cook novel, and that was enough)
It's not science fiction. Any speculative imagining is way out of date, and really doesn't go far enough. Hell, the idea of a killer AI was probably cliche and passe 5 minutes after it was created.
It's really hard to believe this book won the Nebula, must have been a off year.

I skipped through large sections of the book and wasn't lost in the slightest. It takes a good 1/3rd of th
...more
Simone
Yet again, another thought provoking book by Robert J Sawyer… but I expected no less!

The book was written in 1995 and was set about 20 years in the future - which means right about now. This was comical to read because we now know if his future predictions about our culture have come to pass.

He missed the mark on a few things like: Curbside Newspaper Printers, we don’t have VCRs anymore (although his VCR had all the same capabilities and programming parameters that our PVRs have), Donahue and L
...more
Steve Walker
Overall this is a quick fun read. Published in 1995 the book was set in 2011 and flashes back occasionally to circa 1995 which would be considered "today's world" at the time it was written.

Sawyer correctly predicted how the internet would explode and be incorporated into our PCs, phones, appliances, and our home. He foresaw the mobile smart phone and tablet computing. There are some other things he gets wrong, but that is always the fun of reading older science fiction predictions.

On the scien
...more
Karin
The thing I like about Robert J Sawyer books, at least the two that I've read, is that he follows his premise through unflinchingly and to the end. I may not agree with all of the ramifications of the premise, but at least he doesn't look back. He writes this story that is possible from this premise.

The premise, in this case, is "what if there was proof of a soul?" The book can't be completely boiled down to that, there are other big questions explored, such as the afterlife, the nature of moral
...more
Linda  Branham Greenwell
Dr. Peter Hobson, a scientist, discovers that there is a violet electrical "something" in the brain that escapes at the moment of death - he interpret this electrical something to be the soul. Of course, this discovery opens all kinds of discussion from the most scientific to the most extreme religious groups.

Then Dr. Hobson wonders what it is like to "be" a soul - a soul minus a body. So, Peter and Dr. Sarkar, a Muslim schoolmate and friend, decide to create simulations of Peter's brain to test
...more
R. Michael Litchfield
So I am on a bit of a Robert Sawyer kick. He's won a potluck of awards (Hugo, Nebula, canadian prick, etc) and NBC made a series from from one of his books (Flashforward). I read Golden Fleece (his first) a couple days ago and was ok but not great, 3-4 interesting ideas glued to an acceptable narrative structure but they didn't really seem completely mesh. He returns to several of those ideas and instead of hanging them on a journey scaffold he uses a murder mystery one here.

Essentially a story
...more
Nicholas Barone
The Terminal Experiment won Robert Sawyer the Nebula Award in 1995 (it also won the Prix Aurora award). The book tells the story of Dr Peter Hobson - a successful Canadian biomedical engineer. Peter comes into the public eye when an improved EEG of his invention is able to detect what many people believe is a person's soul leaving the body at death. The ramifications of this discovery and its effects on society provide for some interesting speculation, but they only serve as the background for t ...more
Rob Bradford
I must be missing the reason that this book, as opposed to other books by Sawyer, won a Nebula.

Characterization isn't really what Sawyer does. I can overlook that fault in science fiction if the story and 'what-if' premises are interesting enough.

Positing the existence of a demonstrable soul, well, all right, that's interesting enough, and the beginning fairly flew along. The story, after that, turns into a murder mystery. I liked Illegal Alien, also by Sawyer, and also a murder mystery, very
...more
Patricia Rockwell
Another wonderful Sawyer thriller that makes you think. There's a killer on the loose, but unfortunately, it's not a real person. It's one of three computer-simulated persons. Which one is it and will our hero Peter Hobson figure it out before the computer version of himself kills again?

Along with this engrossing murder mystery, lies a host of attendant intriguing social, political, religious, and philosophical questions. They stem from the main character's creation of a monitoring device that p
...more
Matt
Kind of what I expected to come from Sawyer; a novel about science with hints of an afterlife. What I like best about his novels is that they extrapolate on what is current in technology in a logical way and explores the consequences.
Life extension seems to be one of the recurring themes in his works and, it played a minor role here too. A lot of the debate around the Soulwave centered around the fact that immortality would prevent the soul from leaving the body.
Also at the heart of this is a sp
...more
Geoff
This is my second Robert J. Sawyer book and I have to say he's going to be one of my favorite science fiction writers if all his books are this good. Scientific theories are thrown all around this story and it still has such a human element to the story which makes it a treat. Sawyer really knows how to develop characters so you know them in-and-out and you feel for them.

The story is about two extremely smart people, who are friends, and who each develop an amazing technology that are somehow ge
...more
Luna
Ma quanto bello questo libro?? di pi !! Cosa succede quando una persona sensibile assiste, come assistente, all'espianto di organi su una persona data per morta, ma che si scopre che morta non ? e viene comunque "uccisa" per portare a termine l'operazione? Peter diventa esperto in ingegneria biomedica, per costruire una macchina che serva a capire quando una persona muore "davvero", e da li c' una scoperta sensazione, che non solo rivoluzioner il mondo (dei furbi e delle coscienze pulite) ma ch ...more
Andrew
“But you know, Peter, this wouldn’t necessarily simulate true life-after-death. It’s life outside the physical body—but who knows if the soulwave carries with it any of our memories? Of course, if it doesn’t, then it’s not really a meaningful continuation of existence. Without our memories, our pasts, what we were, it wouldn’t be anything we’d recognize as a continuation of the same person.”

“I know,” said Peter. “But if the soul is anything like what people believe it to be like—just the mind, w
...more
Rugg Ruggedo
The first time in a long time I wasn't reading a book that is part of a series. Robert J Sawyer is one of those writers,if you read science fiction, that you are aware of even if you have never read anything by him. When I picked this book up I was sure I had. A vague memory of a story about Mars read in the 80's? Turns out that was a mismemory. However, reading a book written by multi-award nominated author is never really a bad thing. Seeing that this is also the book that he actually won the ...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Robert J. Sawyer novels are like popcorn, they're light & fluffy and they make a great snack. The yummy movie theater butter and salt on top would be the glorious bits of nerdy science he sprinkles throughout his tales.

The Terminal Experiment is yet another novel about identity (I seem to be reading a lot of these currently). Peter's wife cheats on him, so he does what any man in his position would do. He has his brain fully scanned and uploaded into a computer and then creates three distin
...more
Paul
Peter Hobson creates a scanner that can map the neural nets of the brain, and in the process discovers the soulwave. His wife reveals an affair she had. Hobson and his best friend Sarkar scan Peter's brain and develop three AIs to study immortality and life after death. Now, one of the AIs is behaving very badly. How can it be stopped?

Sawyer makes me think of John Scalzi. His writing isn't too good, but the story is entertaining.
Judy
This is a relatively early book in Sawyer's distinguished career. Which version of Peter Hobson has been committing murders?

This is an entirely engrossing, story, a sci-fi murder mystery. As I have come to expect from reading all of Sawyer's later books, the story makes you think about a variety of philosophical and pragmatic issues that lie behind technology. In this case the issues arise when the main character creates a device that can capture a "soulwave", that energy that leaves a body when
...more
John
Halfway decent techno-thriller with the least menacing AI villain ever, combined with a lot of treacly empathy and "Hey, didn't you know that such-and-such works this-a-away?" expositional dialogue, action that never really matters, and a rushed resolution. Topped with warm fuzzies.
Scott Thrift
A really enjoyable read for a lot of reasons:
I gather it was written in the mid 90s. It was set in 2012, so it was immensely interesting to see what 90s Sawyer thought today was going to look like. He anticipated smart houses (though I guess Bradbury had already done that.) Also portable GPS, though his didn't give turn by turn directions, just a MapQuest -like interface on the car dashboard. Also a TiVo like program that searched for programs on TV and records them, though, hilariously, it reco
...more
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25883
Robert J. Sawyer is one of Canada's best known and most successful science fiction writers. He is the only Canadian (and one of only 7 writers in the world) to have won all three of the top international awards for science fiction: the 1995 Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment, the 2003 Hugo Award for Hominids, and the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan.
Robert Sawyer grew up in
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More about Robert J. Sawyer...
Flashforward Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1) Calculating God WWW: Wake (WWW, #1) Humans (Neanderthal Parallax, #2)

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