[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
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Press Release
For Release Saturday, April 8, 1995

Book Sold at New York Auction

Major New Novel from Multiple-Award-Winning Canadian Author

Near-Future Murder Mystery Set in Toronto Explores Life After Death

[Terminal Experiment] Robert J. Sawyer of Thornhill, Ontario, takes a quantum leap to a new level with his sixth and most-important novel yet: The Terminal Experiment (HarperPrism, May 1995 — in stores across North America on Saturday, April 8, 1995).

A novel in the tradition of Michael Crichton and Robin Cook, The Terminal Experiment is set in Toronto ten years in the future and tells the story of Peter Hobson, a biomedical engineer who develops a super-sensitive electroencephalograph (EEG) in order to determine the exact clinical moment of death. He gets more than he bargains for when his instrument detects a weak but cohesive energy field departing the body as it dies. Peter Hobson has found the first verifiable scientific proof of the existence of a soul.

It's a discovery that will change the world. In order to find out what life after death might be like, Hobson arranges for a computer simulation to be created of his own mind, then modifies it to eliminate all parts of the human psyche that are dependent on our biological existence — in essence, he's made a computerized version of what his soul might be like after his own death.

But when his simulation escapes into the Internet worldwide computer network, people Hobson knows begin to be murdered. In exploring life after death, Hobson has also inadvertently keyed into whatever it is that causes human morality. As Hobson races towards the answer, he is pursued relentlessly by Detective Sandra Philo of the Metropolitan Toronto Police.

The novel, which was written in part under an Ontario Arts Council grant, is a combination post-Cyberpunk high-tech thriller and psychological murder mystery. Advance praise for the book has been lavish:

Says Hugo-Award-winning New York author Nancy Kress, author of the bestselling genetic-engineering novel Beggars in Spain: "Sawyer has succeeded in blending the high-tech mystery novel with the cutting-edge-future story, and has enriched both with fascinating philosophical speculation about life after death. This book matters. I highly recommend it."

Mike Resnick, Hugo-Award-winning Ohio-based author of Purgatory, says: "The Terminal Experiment shows why Robert J. Sawyer has catapulted to the top rank of today's fiction writers. It's his best novel yet, and should be a definite contender for all the major awards."

Sawyer has a history of successfully blending speculative and mystery fiction. His 1993 short story "Just Like Old Times" won both the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story of 1993 and the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Award ("the Aurora") for best English-language short story of the year.

Sawyer's earlier high-tech mystery novel, Golden Fleece (Warner, December 1990), also won Canada's Aurora Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel of the Year. Writing in the Connecticut-based Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Hugo-winning author Orson Scott Card said of Sawyer's detective: "The character of Aaron Rossman is, in my opinion, one of the most well-drawn, fallible, human detectives I've encountered in mystery fiction — in a league with, say, [Ruth] Rendell's Inspector Wexford. You might as well buy two copies in the first place — one to read and keep, and one to shove at your friends, saying, `Read this! Now!'"

Meanwhile, of Aaron's nemesis, Jason, Mystery Scene magazine said, "With Jason, Sawyer's created one of the most interesting characters in years. Golden Fleece is suspenseful, entertaining, inventive, thought-provoking, and funny. Highly recommended."

Sawyer is also the author of the popular Quintaglio books (Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner — which are, respectively, parables about Galileo, Darwin, and Freud), as well as End of an Era (Berkley/Ace, November 1994), a time-travel novel also set in Canada.

Vancouver writer Spider Robinson says, "If Robert J. Sawyer were a corporation, I would buy stock in him. He's on my (extremely short) Buy-On-Sight list, and belongs on yours."

And John Robert Colombo, editor of The Dictionary of Canadian Quotations (in which Sawyer is quoted), says "Robert J. Sawyer is a very talented and able writer of fiction. I could back up my enthusiasm with specific references to surprising insights and stylistic devices in his novels, but suffice it to say that here we are dealing with a creator who knows precisely what he is doing."

The Terminal Experiment sold in a New York publishing auction to editor John Silbersack of HarperCollins's New York office. It is being published under the HarperPrism imprint, and is distributed in Canada by HarperCollins Canada Ltd., of Scarborough, Ontario.

Serial rights to the novel went to Analog magazine, New York, the world's number-one best-selling science-fiction magazine. Analog is publishing the book's full text in four installments, beginning with the Mid-December 1994 issue under the title Hobson's Choice. British rights to The Terminal Experiment have sold to Hodder & Stoughton, Sawyer's usual U.K. publisher.

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