Thursday, May 7, 2009

Robert J. Sawyer, Philosopher?


Booklist: "Sawyer not only has an irresistibly engaging narrative voice but also a gift for confronting thorny philosophical conundrums. At every opportunity, he forces his readers to think while holding their attention with ingenious premises and superlative craftsmanship."

The Canadian Press: "Sawyer's novels are always part science and part philosophical exercise, raising questions of morality and ethics in the future that resonate in the present."

Denver Rocky Mountain News: "Sawyer has quietly become one of our most important science-fiction writers, examining different philosophical and ethical problems that come with advancing technology."

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

Kitchener-Waterloo Record: "This is Sawyer at his best: compelling characters, an intriguing and involving plot, and deep philosophic themes backed by credible scientific reasoning."

Publishers Weekly: "Sawyer's writing vies for timelessness by plumbing eternal philosophical and ethical questions, albeit in a futuristic setting."

Quill & Quire: "Sawyer's strength as a science-fiction writer is the way he can synthesize complex scientific ideas in an accessible manner and extract philosophical meaning from them."

Sacramento News & Review: "I have a new favorite SF writer. Sawyer commingles hard science (quantum mechanics, anthropology, genetics, evolution) with cultural and philosophical observations (violence, sex roles, law and justice systems, religion) in the sort of brain-teasing, curiosity-piquing fashion that I adore."

Sacramento News & Review (again): "Like all great science fiction, Sawyer's work ultimately stirs up philosophical questions."

Susan Schneider, University of Pennsylvania, in Science Fiction and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell): "If you read science fiction writers like Stanislaw Lem, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Sawyer, you are already aware that some of the best science fiction tales are in fact long versions of philosophical thought experiments."

SFFaudio: "Sawyer is a fantastic structural writer, a craftsman capable of laying out the ideas in just the right order. We get meaty philosophical thought experiments and thus pure HARD SF."

SFRA Review: "Provides the reader with self-searching moral and philosophical speculation, as well as solidly grounded scientific theory that characterizes good hard-science science fiction."

SF Signal: "[Sawyer's work is] a great springboard for philosophical discussions on morality and ethics, man's place in the universe, abortion, and more."

SF Site: "When it comes to blending cutting-edge science with complex philosophical ruminations, there are few authors more talented than Robert J. Sawyer. Sawyer is one of those rare SF authors who is able to approach complex scientific concepts and humanize them with believable characters, rich dialogue and all too real moral and philosophical dilemmas. Sawyer's work is a rich, intelligent and entertaining form of contemporary literature."

SF Site (again): "Sawyer is one of a handful of Science Fiction authors working in the field today who is able to blend together a myriad of philosophical, moral, and even legal concepts, with futuristic extrapolations based on real scientific principles. In essence Sawyer's writing does what the very best Hard Science Fiction should do: it uses complex technological concepts to show us what it means to be human. In short, in all of Sawyer's vast body of work, the science — as entertaining, and thought provoking as it may be — is always a secondary consideration after his well crafted characters and careful study of humanity itself, and it is this purposeful balance that elevates Sawyer's work from Science Fiction escapism into the realm of high literature. In Hard SF in particular it is difficult to create believable characters that the reader cannot help but sympathize with, but Sawyer manages to do it with a skill and clarity that most mainstream literary writers would envy."

Henry Mietkiewicz in The Toronto Star: "Sawyer compels us to think in a concrete way about concepts that we usually dismiss as being too metaphysical to grapple with. As he is clearly aware, the essence of science fiction isn't starships, robots or virtual reality, but a unique philosophical inquiry into the evolution of the human spirit."

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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3 Comments:

At May 07, 2009 3:32 PM , Blogger Diane Gall said...

Well, Rob. As I recall discussing wth you a long time ago, when you ask 'what is x', you are doing science. When you ask 'what if x were true', you are doing science fiction. When you ask 'what does x mean?', you are doing philosophy.

Philosophically motivated science fiction has always been the most interesting (in my view) and your insistence on asking all three questions makes the body of your work what it is.

 
At May 07, 2009 5:04 PM , Blogger Silverfish said...

Wow, that is some hight praise for you Rob. Congrats!

Stephanie

 
At May 07, 2009 7:56 PM , Blogger John F said...

You've already established that you are a Phi-fi writer as much as an SF writer (by the way, I always want to expand 'phi-fi' into 'phience fiction').

 

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