[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
ROBERT J. SAWYER
Hugo and Nebula Winner


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Writing "You See But You Do Not Observe"

by Robert J. Sawyer

Copyright © 1996 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved.


Because my novel The Terminal Experiment won the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award for Best Novel of 1995, a sample of my work appears in the anthology Nebula Awards 31 (Pamela Sargent, editor; Harcourt Brace, 1997). Here are the comments that preceded my short story "You See But You Do Not Observe" in that book.


Usually, the winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel is represented in this anthology series by an excerpt from his or her book. But I've never found novel excerpts satisfying — they're something akin to reproducing a few square inches of a painting. With the editor's kind permission, I chose instead to make my appearance here with this short story. It's an award-winner in its own right: it received the Sixth Annual HOMer Award for Best Short Story of the Year, voted on by the 30,000 members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Forum on CompuServe.

In some ways, no story could be further from being typical of my work: "You See But You Do Not Observe" is a Sherlock Holmes tale, published with the permission of Dame Jean Conan Doyle and told, as closely as I could manage it, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's style. But it embodies, perhaps more clearly than anything else I've written, the central theme of all my work: namely, that clear-headed, unflinching, rational thinking is the only effective way to deal with reality. That was certainly the worldview from which I created my Nebula-wining novel The Terminal Experiment, which revolves around a scientific investigation into the nature of the human soul: no fuzzy New Age thinking for me, thanks — and, of course, none for Mr. Sherlock Holmes, either.


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