Friday, 20 December 2013

Mindscan is a Good Book

Or why you should read Mindscan by Robert J Sawyer

Robert J Sawyer is kind of the master of using small human stories to explore really big concept, Hard Science Fiction. Mindscan is kind of a quintessential example of this kind of Robert J Sawyer novel. It's also, I think, a great litmus test book to see if you like his approach to novel writing. It's probably also a great book to read if you've never tried a Sawyer novel before.

(Incidentally it's the first one of his novels I tried).

Mindscan posits a future where the fabulously wealthy can upload their consciousness into android bodies to achieve a kind of immortality. Despite being a relatively young man Jake Sullivan, the heir to a local brewing empire, decides to undergo the process to escape a terminal, hair-trigger brain defect. The new Mindscan-Jake gets a new lease on life and meets Karen Bassarian, the Mindscan of an elderly author of a very successful children's novel series (a la Harry Potter). The two fall in love and try to build their new lives together. But when the flesh and blood Karen dies, her biological son brings a suit against Mindscan Karen for her wealth. And so the book becomes one about identity, both in the emotional sense and the legal sense... that is until the flesh and blood Jake wants his life back too.

I would recommend this book to any Sci-fi fan, everyone who loves the genre really ought to try at least one Robert J Sawyer novel. But I think this book could appeal to a wider fiction audience: despite the Sci-fi underpinnings Mindscan is also a love story and social drama that I think transcends genre conventions in a way that I think will appeal to a lot of general fiction lovers.

The Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy 
Red Planet Blues 
The WWW Trilogy

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