Rollback by Robert Sawyer

Apr 18, 04:34 by IROSF

Have a comment on Tokamak's incendiary review?

The article can be found here.
Apr 19, 07:03 by Bob Blough
Joe,

I just finished Rollback two days ago and I couldn't agree with you more. Not dreck but unexciting most of the time.
Apr 20, 23:12 by M S
Yeah, it is incendiary.

Sure, Tokamak doesn't like Rollback. But I'm going to do a Google search.

Let's see . . . Publishers Weekly awarded it a starred review.

Library Journal also gave it the big star and said, "Highly recommended."

The American Library Association put it on its list of the year's top ten best SF novels.

And they don't care how nice Sawyer may or may not be.

And there's lots more, but I don't want to bore anyone.

Rollback was an extremely thoughtful look at human inner conflict. Don isn't a perfect character, he's a realistic one. Yeah, we'd like to think that we are all perfect and strong and make all the right decisions in life, but we don't. And it was great to read about a guy who was put in a terrible situation and reacted like a human being. Not like a drama puppet, not like an overwrought soap opera queen, but like a guy who is just trying to do the best he can. Those are the books I think are important; the ones that reflect the human condition as it is, and as people would react when their lives are affected by technology.

And I've read enough post-singularity SF to pretty much be sick of social consequences on a grand scale, artificial societies in which the rising tide lifts all boats, so I thought it was a refreshing change for an author to say that, hey, only the rich can afford these technologies at first, and so even a revolutionary technology might only change the world in certain select ways. I thought that was a really realistic way of handling it and that it was a joy to read this kind of story, which is really something that needs to be told.

And from a gender-relations perspective, it was great to see the woman as the brilliant scientist and for the man to be someone without a place--and yet, this was inextricably Don's story. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.

I thought it was a brilliant work of science fiction and well worth reading.

And I've got to say, it is really nasty and completely against all tenets of what makes a good book review to say, "If you want to vote for Robert Sawyer because he's a nice guy, I hear you and I understand it now. But remember that he's had his turn." Analyze the work and the work only. Judge the book and not the person. Because I didn't come to IROSF site for a review of Sawyer as a person. I came here for a book review.
Apr 23, 11:20 by Daniel M. Kimmel
I'm a definite Sawyer fan. I find him highly readable and not only entertaining but thought-provoking as well. I just finished "Rollback" and think the review kind of missed the point of the book.

I know there are people who really don't like his books. They seem to fall into two categories. First, there are those who don't like his writing style. He is probably the most transparent writer since Isaac Asimov. He tells the story. He doesn't try to dazzle us with turns of phrase or vivid language. If he has any hallmark it's working relevant pop culture references into the text, which I enjoy but seemed a bit overboard here. While I like certain literary writers, like Dan Simmons and Octavia Butler, others set my teeth on edge. To pick one example, I read Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars" trilogy. I really enjoyed "Red Mars" and found his prose breathtaking. Yet by the time I got to "Green Mars" I was so annoyed with his overripe (and unimaginative) plotting that I've never picked up another Robinson book. The writing style couldn't compensate for what he was actually saying.

The other group that seems to dislike Sawyer are those who feel he's not "scientific" enough. Usually he takes an idea or two and runs with it, instead of giving us pages upon pages of real, speculative or pseudo-science. Worse, Sawyer is interested in exploring issues dealing with morality, theology and philosophy, rather than nanotechnology and hyperspace drives.

So the problem is not with Sawyer, but with people who are predisposed not to like his type of novel carping that he's not writing their kind of novels. I don't know if "Rollback" is Hugo worthy. I've become disenchanted with the Hugos in recent years as my tastes are very different from the voting population (which should not be confused with general fandom). I also haven't read the other novels yet, so I can't say who'll get my vote.

But the notion that Sawyer's popularity is based on his being a "nice guy" -- which he is, by the way -- is just false. Sawyer is an entertaining and popular writer who tells compelling stories dealing with serious issues. I've recommended his books to fans and non-fans alike, with great success.

Your mileage may vary, and that's fine. But that doesn't mean that Sawyer has somehow failed.

Apr 29, 00:06 by David-Michael Allen
Though I've enjoyed Sawyer's work, I decided to not finish this novel. The characters and the Big Ideas came off as derivative and unengaging. I am open to the possibility that my own state of mind could have contributed to my reaction.
   

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