This tightly plotted hard SF stand-alone novel from Hugo and Nebula winner Sawyer (Hybrids, etc.) offers plenty of philosophical speculation on the ethics of bio-technology and the nature of consciousness, but few surprises. To evade a rare medical condition, Canadian Jake Sullivan, heir to the Sullivan Brewery fortune, contracts with Immortex to be Mindscanned, his consciousness copied and uploaded into an android body. At Immortex, Jake meets elderly children's book author Karen Bessarian, a fellow Mindscan, who wants to retain control of her copyrights as long as possible-which may be centuries, since no one knows how long their manufactured bodies may live. Their originals (aka "shed skins") are taken to High Eden, a private "retirement village" on the far side of the moon, to live the rest of their lives in luxurious isolation. Strangely unprepared for the alienation he encounters as a Mindscan, Jake becomes Karen's lover. Then Karen's original dies and her son sues to inherit her estate. Meanwhile, Jake's original learns of a cure for his medical condition-only to discover, after successful treatment, that he may not leave High Eden. The novel's near-future setting-a socially liberal Canada that provides a haven from fundamentalist Christian-controlled America-may excite as much interest as the Mindscan concept. Agent, Ralph M. Vicinanza. (Apr. 6) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Want to read a SF story that creates a movie in your mind? Then Mindspan should be your choice. Jake Sullivan is the engaging protagonist. Feeling guilty about possibly inducing his father's death, Jake finds out that he has inherited his father's vulnerable genetic make-up. Having also inherited his father's wealth, Jake jumps at the opportunity to be copied in order to experience a full life. The original Jake has to live the rest of his life on the moon, while the newly minted Jake/Jacob assumes the "old" Jake's life. However, life is full of surprises. The court determines that copied individuals do not have full rights, and a new operation can cure Jake's medical problem. But will the copy want to give up his new life? Hardly. This is high-quality, clever and thought-provoking near-future SF. The characters are nuanced, and the plot is believable. A color-blind detail is a bit overdone, but otherwise the story is a nonstop feast and inspiration for a great movie. KLIATT Codes: SARecommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Tor, 370p., Ages 15 to adult.
Dr. Lesley Farmer
Award-winning Sawyer takes a break from his latest trilogy (Humans, 2003, etc.) with a slow disquisition on consciousness and identity pretending to be an SF novel of ideas. When his father suffers a brain hemorrhage that leaves him in a permanent vegetative state, Jake Sullivan, heir a Canadian brewery fortune, discovers he has the same rare, hereditary disease. Fear of an early death inspires him, at age 40, to undergo a Mindscan, an expensive but apparently fool-proof technique in which the entire brain is scanned and downloaded into a technologically superior mechanical body that doesn't breathe, eat, sleep or sweat and is theoretically immortal. The result? Two Jake Sullivans. In the first of many improbabilities, the flesh-and-blood Jake must make room for his replacement by renouncing all ties to his earthly existence and living out the rest of his days in a deluxe retirement village on the dark side of the moon, from whence he cannot return. En route to his new digs, Jake meets the 85-year-old, thrice-married Karen Bessarian, enormously wealthy best-selling author of a Harry Potter-like fantasy series. Karen makes a younger Mindscan version of herself to preserve her royalties and, perhaps, continue the series. A friendship develops between the mortals on the moon and the immortals: the new and improved Jake and Karen discover their bodies can have sex without fear of disease or pregnancy. Then Sawyer complicates the plot by having the mortal Jake being cured for his illness, but still a prisoner on the moon. The mortal Karen dies, setting off a tedious, histrionic courtroom battle over whether or not the immortal Karen is a person. On top of this, the immortal Jake starts hearingvoices that turn out to be thoughts from other Jakes: Could the Mindscan scientists have made unauthorized copies of his brain and be using them for nasty purposes?Lots of prattle about science, philosophical issues and the ironies of contemporary pop culture. For die-hard fans only.
“Sawyer lucidly explores fascinating philosophical conundrums.” Entertainment Weekly
“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.” Starlog
“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.” Rocky Mountain News
"“Sawyer's most ambitious work to date; a brilliant and innovative novel that positively sings with humor, insight, and depth.” SF Site
“With his customary flair for combining hard science with first-rate storytelling, Sawyer imagines a future of all-too-real possibilities.” Library Journal
“This tightly plotted hard-SF novel offers plenty of philosophical speculation on the ethics of bio-technology and the nature of consciousness.” Publishers Weekly
“A delightful read that grips the reader with engaging characters and cosmic ideas.” Winnipeg Free Press"