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Robert J. Sawyer Interview

"Despite the fact that I write at length about what people would consider to be metaphysical issues, I'm a rationalist. I think that the lesson that one should take from science fiction is that there's nothing that's outside of the boundaries of science... The favorite review of my book is one from the Toronto Star which says, 'Sawyer forces us to grapple with questions that we used to think were too metaphysical to deal with rationally.' That's what I think good science fiction is: the rational approach to the metaphysical."

-- Robert J. Sawyer (from the interview)

Who is Robert J. Sawyer?

Robert J. Sawyer is a Canadian full-time science fiction author. He has written 18 novels (as of September 2009), including the novel FlashForward, which provided the basis for the ABC television series of the same name.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rob at Eeriecon III, in Niagra Falls, NY, in 2001. I had scheduled an interview with him because I was incredibly impressed with his work and wished to get his views on various topics. We discussed writing (both in general and his work specifically), as well as the themes of what science is meant to do, immortality, evolution, and other topics. It was honestly some of the most fun I've had in a long time, and I was as impressed with him in person as I was with the fine stories that he tells.


Themes in Rob's work

Rob's work tackles heavy themes, and does not shirk from the consequences of them. Whether it's science, religion, or man's role in the universe, Rob is able to juggle these themes on the level of a master of literature. Though not exhaustive, what follows is a list of some topics and themes that have a strong presence in Rob's work:

Evolution & Creationism
Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy (Hominids, Humans, Hybrids), Quintaglio Trilogy (Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, Foreigner), The Terminal Experiment, Illegal Alien, Starplex, Frameshift, & Calculating God
Immortality
The Terminal Experiment, Starplex, & FlashForward
Existence of the soul
Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy, The Terminal Experiment, & Mindscan
Role of science in the world (explicit discussions)
The Terminal Experiment, FlashForward, & Calculating God
Man vs. Machine
Golden Fleece, Factoring Humanity, & Mindscan
Fate vs. Free Will
End of an Era, & FlashForward
Artificial Intelligence/Consciousness
Golden Fleece, Factoring Humanity, Mindscan, & WWW: Wake
Replicated Consciousness
Golden Fleece, The Terminal Experiment, Mindscan, & WWW: Wake
Collective unconscious
Factoring Humanity
Racial issues
Neanderthal Parallax, Starplex, & Illegal Aliens
Repressed & implanted memories
Factoring Humanity
What is life?
Starplex, Illegal Aliens, Calculating God, & Mindscan
Genetics
Frameshift, Illegal Alien, Calculating God, & Rollback
Nanotechnology
The Terminal Experiment
Quantum physics
Starplex, FlashForward, Golden Fleece, & Factoring Humanity
Quantum computing
Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy, Factoring Humanity, & Golden Fleece
Time travel
Starplex, End of an Era, & FlashForward

Robert J. Sawyer speaks
(Selected topics from interview,
along with references to specific books where applicable)

Full interview with Robert J. Sawyer

Rob's books


Other RJS Links

SFwriter.com: Robert J. Sawyer Official Homepage
This site is the most comprehensive science fiction author's page on the internet. It has short stories, book excerpts, articles on writing, reading group questions for Sawyer's books, and many other fine features. You can also order autographed copies of some books through the site!
Join Robert J. Sawyer's Discussion Group
Yes, Rob actually is on the group. He runs the group, though he's been so busy lately that he hasn't been as active on it as he once was. Join the group and hear his feedback on the discussions, when his time permits.
Robert J. Sawyer's Blog
Rob's blog is a great resource for finding out more about what's going on in Rob's world and with his writing.
ABC's FlashForward page
In fall 2009, ABC launched the pilot of the new dramatic science fiction series, FlashForward, based on the novel by Robert J. Sawyer.

Pictures of Rob from Eeriecon III

Robert J. Sawyer signing books in a dark room

Robert J. Sawyer, shrouded in mystery whilst signing my books.

Andrew Zimmerman Jones, Robert J. Sawyer, 2001 at Eeriecon III

Andrew Zimmerman Jones, Robert J. Sawyer, 2001 at Eeriecon III

Two pictures of me with Rob.
I knew that, eventually, someone would get that damn flash to work.

Pictures copyrighted 2001 by Andrew Zimmerman Jones