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


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Title Changes

Only a few of my novels ended up being published under the titles I originally had in mind when I started writing them. Here are the titles of my novels in the order in which they became official. Titles marked with "(p)" were the publishers' suggestions.


  • Starcology Argo
  • JASON and the Argonauts (I gave up on this one because there was no way to be sure that the title would appear with "JASON" in all caps to indicate an acronym but all the other words in mixed case)
  • Golden Fleece

  • Face of God
  • Dinosaur Moon (p) (boy, I hated this . . .)
  • Tyrannosaur Moon (p) (and this was no improvement . . .)
  • Far-Seer (this was my brother Alan's suggestion, obviously perfect in retrospect)


  • First Impressions (too confusing for the third book in a trilogy)
  • Foreigner (fits the F*ER template established for the first two volumes, but obviously I'd never have used it if I'd known C.J. Cherryh was going to have a book with the same title coming out about the same time . . .)

  • End of an Era (this title turned out to be a mistake, since many people mistakenly assumed because of the "End" reference that it was the end of the Quintaglio series, rather than an unrelated standalone novel about dinosaurs; End of an Era was actually written before Far-Seer; the "era" in question is, of course, the Mesozoic era — the age of dinosaurs)

  • Hobson's Choice (the title under which Analog serialized it)
  • Soulwave
  • Mindscan
  • The Terminal Experiment (p) (this is a better title than it seems at first glance — the novel is about simulating death ["terminal"] on a computer workstation ["terminal"]; still, if I had it to do over, I would have fought harder for Soulwave, which was probably the most appropriate title for the book. By the way, the Nebula Award trophy has both Hobson's Choice and The Terminal Experiment engraved on it.)

  • Critical Density (possibly gave away too much)
  • The Grand Old Man of Physics (I still think this is a great title, but no one else likes it . . .)
  • Starplex

  • Screening (only considered for a few days while creating the outline)
  • Frameshift (the perfect title, I thought)
  • Helix (my then-agent's suggestion)
  • Frameshift (returning to my personal favorite)


  • Illegal Alien (finally a title that everyone — author, agent, and editor — thought was perfect right off the bat)

  • Psychospace (the title under which I submitted a shortened version to the UPC SF Award; it won the Grand Prize
  • Mind Over Matter
  • Matter Over Mind ("Overmind" — get it?)
  • Factoring Humanity

  • Glimpses (I knew I could never actually call it this — Lewis Shiner had already used this title on another book)
  • Slice of Life
  • Mosaic
  • FlashForward

  • Parameters
  • Source Code (abandoned because it might be confused with Paul Levinson's The Silk Code, also published by Tor)
  • Transcendence
  • Evolving God
  • Calculating God (I had reservations about this, because it sounded to me like a sequel to Factoring Humanity)

  • Open Palms (with the sequels to be Clenched Fists and Clasped Hands)
  • Infinite Faculties (a paraphrasing from Hamlet, with the sequels to be Noble Reason and Quintessence of Dust)
  • Divergence of Character (a phrase from the concluding passage of Darwin's On the Origins of Species)
  • Hominids (with the sequels to be Humans and Hybrids)

  • Clenched Fists
  • Noble Reason (from Hamlet)
  • Humans

  • Clasped Hands
  • Quintessence of Dust (from Hamlet)
  • Hybrids

  • Skins
  • Action Potential (a term from neurophysiology)
  • Mindscan (originally a working title for The Terminal Experiment, adopted for this book because Tor's marketing department disliked the title Action Potential)

  • Or Die Trying (a quip from my friend Spider Robinson: "I'm going to live forever or die trying")
  • Rollback

  • Webmind
  • Wake (styled as WWW: Wake on the US cover to avoid confusion with a young-adult novel called Wake. The titles for the sequels, Watch and Wonder, were locked in prior to the publication of Wake; those books never had any other working titles)

  • Displaced Persons (problematic from the start, because a highly touted debut novel came out in 2010 with that title)
  • Triggers


  • The Great Martian Fossil Rush (neither the publisher nor the sales force at Ace Science Fiction liked this, although I personally loved it and so did my Canadian editor)
  • Red Planet Blues (suggested by four of my fans)

  • Thoughtless (but my US editor Ginjer Buchanan thought it was too soft a title, although I liked that it included both "thought" and "ought" (as in ethical behavior), two of the novel's themes, and also evoked the notion, key to the plot, of beings who were literally thoughtless -- with no inner lives)
  • The Philosopher's Zombie (suggested by my friend Nick DiChario and still my favorite title for the book; originally approved by my US editor Ginjer Buchanan, but after she retired, both my new US editor, Jessica Wade, and my Canadian one, Adrienne Kerr, expressed concerns about the z-word, so ...)
  • Thoughtless (again, as a working title, but my agent thought it was "a terrible title")
  • Quantum Night (my coinage, from a poetic musing by the novel's main character)
  • Psychopath State (my American publisher wanted something that might bring in mainstream readers, so we tried this, then realized it sounded like a scary American university)
  • Quantum Psychopath (as I wrote to my editors: "It's a bit lurid, but it certainly covers both plot elements, and one of my definitions is that `science fiction is the literature of intriguing juxtapositions' — and having `quantum' sparking off of `psychopath' certainly is that")
  • Quantum Night (although both my US and Canadian editors, as well as myself, had signed off on Quantum Psychopath, my agent Chris Lotts felt that wasn't classy enough for this book — a sentiment I secretly shared — and so we all agreed to revert to Quantum Night)


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