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

SFWRITER.COM > Novels > Mindscan > Review Excerpts

Review Excerpts

Robert J. Sawyer's Mindscan

"Sawyer's most ambitious work to date; a brilliant and innovative novel, with complex and highly entertaining courtroom drama. In Sawyer's capable grasp the story positively sings with humor, insight, and depth. In Hard SF it is difficult to create believable characters, but Sawyer manages to do it yet again with a skill and clarity that most mainstream literary writers would envy.

"Mindscan is truly a work of literary art. With a brilliant narrative, intriguing and well-researched scientific extrapolation, and characters that are believable and utterly human, Sawyer has undoubtedly cemented his reputation as one of the foremost Science Fiction writers of our generation." —SF Site

"Sawyer's treatment of identity issues — of what copying consciousness may mean and how consciousness is defined — finds expression in a good story that is a new meditation on an old sf theme, the meaning of being human." —Booklist

"Sawyer has quietly become one of our most important science-fiction writers, examining different philosophical and ethical problems that come with advancing technology. In Mindscan, by alternating the points of view of the two Jakes, Sawyer deftly examines what a future might be like in two neighboring countries that have become polar opposites. And he focuses on the legal and moral ramifications involved in various definitions of humanity in an intriguing and stylistically fine story. Grade: A." —Denver Rocky Mountain News

"There have been several landmark cases in which the definition of `people' has been tested. In 1847, the American slave Dred Scott sued his owner for his freedom. In Canada, the celebrated Persons Case of 1929 determined five Alberta women were, indeed, `persons' and could sit in the Canadian Senate. Robert Sawyer moves the issue of personhood to the year 2045 when technology has advanced enough to allow the `mindscan' and transfer of a person's consciousness into an artificial brain.

"Between the courtroom and the moon, Sawyer weaves an intricate story of coming (or not coming) to grips with society-bending technology and how belief, greed and politics tend to trump logic. His vision of the world 40 years hence is quite plausible, which makes it all the more disturbing." —The Edmonton Journal

"Sawyer lucidly explores fascinating philosophical conundrums." —Entertainment Weekly

"The development of the court case is fascinating (including both the exploration of individuation and lawyers taking issue with the fact that the androids don't dream), as well as the very human reactions of all versions of these people, in their original and artificial forms. Mindscan is Robert Sawyer's best yet, SF that explores an issue that may not be all that far ahead of us, by developing all kinds of intriguing human implications. Don't miss this one." —Bookloons

"Another book that proves what I've been saying for some time now: Robert J. Sawyer is the 21st century's Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, all in one. Very, very smart guy who really knows how to write so that those of us who are not nearly as smart can understand (as well as can be expected) some incredibly complicated things.

"Beautifully complex story with heavy philosophical and social questions that we probably will have to face one day. That's one of the things science fiction has long been good for: giving us a chance to ponder questions before they become urgent. The very best science fiction writers have always been challenging their readers in this way. Sawyer not only continues the tradition, he has developed it in ways that were not possible in the previous century.

"Long live Robert J. Sawyer!" —Ethical Society of Saint Louis

"This is Sawyer at his best: compelling characters, an intriguing and involving plot, and deep philosophic themes backed by credible scientific reasoning. Mindscan will resonate in your thoughts for a long time after you have closed the book." —Kitchener-Waterloo Record

"With his customary flair for combining hard science with first-rate storytelling, the author of the 'Neanderthal Parallax' series and Calculating God imagines a future of all-too-real possibilities and the problems that may arise from scientific progress. This standalone novel belongs in most sf collections." —Library Journal

"This tightly plotted hard-SF stand-alone novel from Hugo and Nebula winner Sawyer offers plenty of philosophical speculation on the ethics of bio-technology and the nature of consciousness. The novel's near-future setting — a socially liberal Canada that provides a haven from fundamentalist Christian-controlled America — may excite much interest." —Publishers Weekly

"Want to read a SF story that creates a movie in your mind? Then Mindscan should be your choice. Jake Sullivan is the appealing protagonist. This is high-quality, clever and thought-provoking near-future SF. The characters are nuanced, and the plot is believable. The story is a nonstop feast and inspiration for a great movie. Recommended." —Kliatt

"Mindscan is both a love story and a parable about the possibility of fixed beliefs in a world of constantly shifting morality and ethics. Sawyer keeps his very readable tale moving by rooting it all in characters who have conflicted and occasionally contradictory reactions to the new realities." —Quill & Quire

"Sawyer explores the ethical and social implications of scientific advances that would enable people to cheat death, uploading their minds into androids, in this ripping good suspense novel of the unintended consequences that follow when you split the self in two." —Ruminator: The Independent Magazine of Arts, Culutre and Ideas

"A crackingly good novel; a delight." —SF Crowsnest

"An exciting crowd pleaser. Richly informed by current interdisciplinary research in the burgeoning field of consciousness studies, and alive with provocative speculation of its own, Mindscan is a heady brew of hard SF, blended with enough comedy, romance, and adventure to appeal to a wider audience, as well. Pulling out all the pop-fiction stops, Sawyer also serves up an excellent courtroom drama, a bittersweet comedy, tons of adventure — even a simple trip to the moon, in Sawyer's hands, is made to seem exciting again — and plenty of touches that are just plain fun. Mindscan is a Hard SF reader's delight; readers will find themselves going back to their bookstores for more helpings of Robert Sawyer." —SFRA Review

"A tale involving courtroom drama, powerful human emotion and challenging SF mystery. Sawyer juggles it all with intelligence and far-reaching vision worthy of Isaac Asimov. The book ends on an entirely new vista and begs for a sequel — which readers will be eagerly anticipating." —Starlog

"Extremely satisfying. Sawyer extrapolates his science from current, cutting edge technology, and he never flinches in postulating where we could be heading. An excellent cautionary tale." —Talebones

"Welcome to the morally and legally complicated world of Sawyer's latest intellectually clear and provocative novel, Mindscan. As he has in previous books, including Calculating God and Hominids, Sawyer here wrestles with transgressive new technologies, thrilling scientific ideas and disruptive discoveries. He explores the human implications of change in a world marked by rifts between reason and feeling, between science and religion. And he ponders — as the story unfolds on Earth and on the Moon, in the courtroom and in the human heart — the meaning of embodied personhood, of `the soul in the machine,' of future transformation." —United Church Observer

"A delightful read. Grips the reader with engaging characters and cosmic ideas." —Winnipeg Free Press

"Once again Ontario's Robert J. Sawyer takes something that seems wildly improbable — the notion of transferring human consciousness to an artificial body — and uses it as a jumping-off point for an exploration of some very nifty ideas. On its surface a very inventive science-fiction story, the novel is actually a rumination on the nature of consciousness and identity. It is another excellent (not to mention surprising) novel from one of the genre's brightest lights." —Winnipeg Free Press (again)

More Good Reading

More about Mindscan
Robert J. Sawyer's awards and honors
What's a Rob Sawyer novel like?
Review index

Want to receive Rob’s very occasional email newsletter?

About Rob
Book Clubs
Press Kit
How to Write
Email Rob
Canadian SF



Copyright © 1995-2020 by Robert J. Sawyer.