Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Action Potential

by Rob - January 30th, 2007.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

Right up to the day of the Tor sales conference, my novel Mindscan had the title Action Potential, which I thought was quite wonderful. Not only is it a cool term from neuroscience, but it also worked well with the plot of the book, since it dealt with an exploration of what actions any of us might have the potential to perform in desperate times (I’m thinking particularly of Jake taking hostages).

Well, the sales force didn’t like that title, and so the book got changed to Mindscan. I can’t complain; I coined that title, too (in fact, it was a rejected possible title for my much-earlier novel The Terminal Experiment).

Anyway, as I noted a little while ago, my discarded Evolving God (a working title for Calculating God) was picked up by Barbara J. King for her new anthropology book on the origins of religion.

And now I see that someone else thought Action Potential a cool title, too. Since November of 2005 (after Mindscan came out), the journal Nature Neuroscience has been using it as the title of their blog.

I am now waiting to be vindicated and see the blockbuster novel called The Grand Old Man of Physics, which was my working title for Starplex, and which my then agent convinced me to change on the grounds that it was “the worst title he’d ever heard.” :)

Seriously, I wish him no ill over this; he was doubtless right that it wasn’t a commerical title. Sadly, Starplex turned out to be not much better. In those pre-Google days, how was I to know that a leading maker of those little plastic collection bottles they give you to pee in when you visit the doctor is also called Starplex?

Leave a Reply