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Rollback: A Review

Saturday, Apr 28, 2007 at 4:34pm

What Would You Do With Another Sixty Years?

I had the pleasure of joining Robert J. Sawyer for dinner prior to his reading of Rollback, his seventeenth novel, at our Grant Park location. We had a great discussion at Cafe Carlo about the past, present and future of Science Fiction in general, and Rob's place in it in particular.

I first discovered Rob back in 2000 when he released Calculating God. It was the first new Science Fiction novel in what felt like ages to arrive at my old hometown library, so I had no option but to read it. I am certainly glad I did. It is a rare treat to discover an author who really speaks to you, the gravy on the fries was that Rob had an extensive backlist, and continues to release a book every year. Enough about the past though, let's look to the future.

2048 in fact. Rollback,like most of Sawyer's novels is set in the near, and very recognizable future. You know it is the future, Rob says, because every home has a big screen television. Sarah and Don Halifax are an elderly couple celebrating their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Sarah worked for SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) , and was the researcher who decoded the first alien transmission every received by Earth. Now the aliens have responded to our reply, and it is believed that Sarah holds the key to deciphering the new message. But Sarah is eighty-seven, and may not have the time left to finish the work. Both her and Don receive a very expensive procedure known as a Rollback to rejuvenate their bodies to the age of 25. In a cruel twist, the procedure works for Don, but not Sarah.

What follows is a blend of Sawyer at his best. Rollback asks and examines what are not just scientific concearns, but societal and personal ones as well. This is among the best that Science Fiction, or Philosophical Fiction, as Sawyer likes to call it, has to offer.

Robert J. Sawyer is one of only seven writers, and the only Canadian to win all three of Science Fiction's top prizes: The Hugo, for Hominids, The Nebula, for The Terminal Experiment, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, for Mindscan. In addition to being an award winning novelist, and futurist, Sawyer also edits his own line, Robert J. Sawyer Books, for Red Deer Press.

Visit Rob's official website

See pictures from Rob's book signing here:

Categories: Reviews, SciFi & Fantasy

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