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

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Review Excerpts

Robert J. Sawyer's Rollback

"This is an exciting science fiction thriller that focuses on ethical questions." —Alternative-Worlds.com

"Robert J. Sawyer has a way of taking familiar ideas, looking at them from new angles and in greater depth than almost anybody before him, and tying them together to create extraordinarily fresh and thought-provoking stories. Rollback is a thoroughly engaging story, with some of the most memorable people you'll ever meet." —Analog Science Fiction & Fact

"Sawyer does a good job of exploring the social and moral implications of rejuvenation technology; as often in SF, a technical advance that seems an unalloyed blessing turns out to carry with it a wide range of unexpected consequences. Characteristically, Sawyer is more interested in broader questions of morality and social responsibility than in a fast-action yarn. The book delivers an emotionally satisfying conclusion, with a number of surprises at the finish." —Asimov's Science Fiction

"Sawyer's investigation of rejuvenation — especially difficult for a man with the body of a 25-year-old married to an octogenarian — and of massively time-delayed communication with aliens loads a fascinating story with difficult issues. Don makes mistakes, yet he and Sarah are good people and thoughtfully constructed characters. Rollback exploits two staple sf tropes to produce a nicely executed, human-scale story." —Booklist

"This latest offering from sci-fi award collector Robert J. Sawyer meets all the requirements of summertime reading — it's light at barely 300 pages, it's populated with likeable characters, it engages the imagination and it's hard to put down. And it has robots. Can it get any better than that?" —The Calgary Herald

"Sawyer's novels are always part science and part philosophical exercise, raising questions of morality and ethics in the future that resonate in the present. He doesn't get too heavy-handed with either the science or the morality, which makes his books interesting for fans of all genres. This is a good, quick-paced and thought-provoking read." —The Canadian Press

"Rollback is a wonderful novel. Don's personality and character are presented in genuine depth and detail. Invention informs every page, and no tourist guide or cultural nationalist would possibly ask for one more description of Toronto, past, present, or future! The two themes — the psycho-social effects of life extension, SETI, CETI and exobiology — are woven together like the twin strands of DNA. I found myself being out-anticipated by the author almost all the time. I have always liked Contact (the novel more than the movie); the thrill of reading Sagan's novel was matched by the thrill of reading Rollback. Very, very moving. Here there is solemnity, nobility, and poignancy: something grand." —John Robert Colombo, editor of Other Canadas

"Whenever I hear the adage that science fiction one day will become science fact, I think of Sawyer's novels. He explores the hard science behind some of our most sought-after advances, and he also discusses what they'll do to our psyches and morals. ... [In Rollback] heavy issues are wrapped up in a story that is so poignant that I found myself in tears. I admire Sawyer for not feeding us any easy answers, because there really aren't any. Touching and thought-provoking, Rollback has become one of my favorite science fiction novels. It educates and enlightens, and it just might make you think as well. Sawyer has written another classic." —The Davis Enterprise, Davis, California

"Thoughtful, low key, and convincing. One of Robert Sawyer's strongest points as a writer is that his characters are always real people. Sawyer has repeatedly shown that he can portray very dramatic situations in an effective but unmelodramatic fashion." —Don D'Ammassa, the long-time book reviewer for Science Fiction Chronicle [full review online]

"Thoroughly entertaining (and accessible) science fiction. Moves fast; one of those books you can't put down ... truly engrossing human drama. The content and motive of the alien communication turns out to be a great springboard for philosophical discussions on morality and ethics, man's place in the universe, abortion, and more; there are several stop-and-think moments. All through this, Sawyer gives us characters that are totally realistic. Rollback succeeds at being the kind of book that can attract a wide audience. It's got mainstream appeal but is also a great read for fans of thought-provoking science fiction. ***** [out of 5]" —SF Signal [full review online]

"Sawyer's most striking notion is that aliens will want to contact other civilizations to discuss ethics and philosophy; he has a good point that the science and mathematics usually assumed must be too common to be worth all the trouble. Sarah and Don are wonderfully pleasant people to be with as they work through issues of life and death with intelligence and compassion." —The Denver Post [full review online]

"There's a good reason Robert J. Sawyer is so often compared to Isaac Asimov. Sawyer is one of the few highly popular contemporary SF writers carrying on the vision of what critic John Clute calls `First SF,' and in Rollback, Sawyer extrapolates a future we could all wish to live in, and peoples it with generally good citizens just trying to get by. It's a generous vision." —Douglas Barbour in The Edmonton Journal

"Powerfully real; a charming consideration of the ethics of aging. With the gift of the rollback, Don, no longer physically 80, is able to start again — a lifetime's wisdom packed in a buff adolescent's body. What good can he do the second time around? The sky's the limit." —The Georgia Straight

"While Rollback is, on the surface, a book about reaching out to those across the universe, it is at its heart an investigation of our very humanity, and how relationships are a fundamental key to defining who we are. Sawyer's crisp and accessible writing style allows for this interweaving of the personal and the scientific. The characters feel real, and their emotions and responses genuine. Beyond the SF trappings, Rollback is a story about love and commitment, about humanity at its most basic — a novel to be savoured by science-fiction and mainstream readers alike." —The Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper

"Rollback is a dynamite science fiction novel that examines some major themes. We get the big story — communications with aliens — and a smaller one — life extension. Both are told cleanly, intelligently and woven together well. A wholly satisfying story." —January Magazine [full review online]

"Above all, the author's characters bear their human strengths and weaknesses with dignity and poise. An elegantly told story for all libraries; highly recommended." —Library Journal (starred review, denoting a work of exceptional merit) [full review online]

"An early candidate for sci-fi book of the year." —Kansas City Star

"Rollback gets my vote as SF novel of the year. A joy to read." —Jack McDevitt, author of Odyssey

"This is probably Sawyer's most character-driven story to date, and it doesn't take away from the free flow of thoughts and ideas that we've come to expect from a Sawyer novel. This is a terrific and worthy entry in the Sawyer catalog. I strongly recommend you get out to your local bookseller and buy this immediately; I enjoyed it immensely." —MT Void [full review online]

"Canadian author Sawyer once again presents likable characters facing big ethical dilemmas in this smoothly readable near-future SF novel. Sawyer, who has won Hugo and Nebula awards, may well win another major SF award with this superior effort." —Publishers Weekly (starred review, denoting a work of exceptional merit)

"Can love survive if one partner is restored to youth while the other remains aged? This brilliant premise is full of tension as well as heartbreak. Sawyer's highly emotional and original novel is a romance, albeit one that is not often encountered. The plot combines fascinating themes — alien contact, rejuvenation and love. It's a complex story with sympathetic and believable characters. Ethical dilemmas that may come with future technology make this a riveting book." —Romantic Times BOOKReviews (4½ Stars — their highest rating) [full review online]

"The repercussions of the rollback surgery are genuinely surprising, but rooted firmly in the skillfully crafted and realistic thoughts and emotions of Don and Sarah. When the plotlines converge late in the book, it is a reminder of why Sawyer is one of our most highly regarded writers of speculative fiction, able to handle the demands of the heart and the cosmos with equal skill." —Quill & Quire [full review online]

"I highly recommend Robert J. Sawyer's Rollback. It's a shoo-in to be short-listed for next year's major awards." —SciFiDimensions [full review online]

"Rollback has a thoroughly engaging story line even when it deals with ethical and moral questions waiting on the threshold of our technological advancements. Sawyer, noted for his attention to the development of individual characters, does it well in Rollback too. Characters are not submerged in the deluge of issues of cosmic scale; the human interest is kept alive throughout the book — however, Sawyer does more: he examines issues of larger significance. Rollback is an interesting, well-told story with beautiful characterization. The genuine attempt to discuss the moral conundrums makes it yet another engaging book by Sawyer that plays to the readers' intellect as well as emotion." —SFRA Review [full review online — major spoiler alert, though]

"A fascinating human drama, where joy and tragedy take human form, rather than apocalyptic ones. All in all, it's a 'skytop' story, worth reading by genre and mainstream readers alike." —SFRevu [full review online]

"Sawyer is Canada's most lauded SF writer, and Rollback has a lot of things going for it. Sawyer has come up with a new twist on the first-contact story, a romance across the ages, a surprisingly lovable robot, no violence and not a single villain. While not everyone does the right thing at all times in the book, everyone who messes up has reasons for what they do. Don is essentially a very nice man who tries very hard to do the right thing, and it's really easy for us to forgive him even when he slips up." —The Whitehorse Star

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