The Terminal Experiment PDF ☆ The Terminal PDF or

To test his theories of immortality and life after death Dr Peter Hobson has created three electronic simulations of his own personality The first has all knowledge of physical existence edited out to simulate life after death The second is without knowledge of aging or death to simulate immortality The third is unmodified a control Now they are free One is a killer


10 thoughts on “The Terminal Experiment

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    The Terminal Experiment A Substandard Crichton style thrillerOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureRobert J Sawyer is a very popular Canadian SF author with many novels under his belt and several major awards including the 1995 Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment 2003 Hugo Award for Hominids and 2006 John W Campbell Award for Mindscan I hadn’t read anything of his so I decided to give The Terminal Experiment a try It’s about an engineer who creates three artificial copies of his consciousness and one of them becomes a killer It is narrated by the very competent Paul Hecht and is an easy listen But how well does it hold up as an award winner? I’ll freely admit I am not a big fan of “techno thrillers” in SF Generally I find this a flimsy plot device to move a mediocre story forward quickly Usually a shadowy and sinister organization or super villain is up to no good and the intrepid hero and his clever sidekick andor love interest race against time to defeat the badguys and prevent a terrible calamity The heroes are usually are scientists engineers detectives private investigators or scholars Sometimes they produce massive runaway best sellers that explore the secret history of Christianity and became Hollywood blockbusters starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou flitting from one gorgeous European location to the next usually with a trail of dead bodies left behindWell The Terminal Experiment isn’t quite that bad but it hardly breaks any new ground or provide insight into the nature of AIs and human consciousness I recently read Greg Egan’s Permutation City and that book dives into those ideas in such depth and complexity it was almost overwhelming In contrast The Terminal Experiment goes down way too easily following a by the numbers thriller plot Dr Peter Hobson is the biomedical engineer who invents a machine that can detect brain patterns as they leave the body after death which many interpret as proof of a human soul After creating much hoopla in the media and religious circles he decides with the help of his friend Sardar Muhammed an AI programming expert very convenient don’t you think? to create three AI simulations of Peter’s consciousness in order to test some theories about the afterlife and soulSo three simulations are created 1 Spirit a version of Peter in which all physical desires and urges are removed allowing for a pure intellect unburdened by worldly concerns 2 Ambrotos who has all fears of aging and death removed to simulate the conditions of an immortal being and 3 a control version of Peter with no special modifications Initially all three simulations take to their existence positively exploring the Internet of 1995 with enthusiasm and curiosity The book really betrays its age with some very dated descriptions of “cutting edge” technology of the nascent web and there are numerous laughable details about information technology etc Over time the simulations get frustrated with their limited virtual environs and break out into the larger global IT network They also start to develop some aggressive behavior seemingly triggered by Peter’s subconscious feelingsWhat ensures is a thoroughly unexciting thriller as they try to outsmart the simulations and prevent them from getting out of control This idea has been done to death many times before I found it hard to care about either the characters plot or even the philosophical questions the book raised not because they questions themselves are not important they are but due to the amateur way in which they are presented to the reader The writing is pedestrian but unthreatening exactly what you would expect from a “mainstream thriller”What this book illustrates is the problem with near future techno thrillers winning major awards like the Nebula or Hugo While they may seem fairly innovative or cutting edge at the time it only takes 5 10 years to make them hopelessly outdated or wrong in their predictions Books about the far future alternate histories or fantasies are less likely to age badly In 1995 it beat John Barnes Mother of Storms Nancy Kress’ Beggars and Choosers Paul Park’s Celestis Walter Jon Williams’ Metropolitan and Gene Wolfe’s Calde of the Long Sun and while I haven't read those books I find it very hard to believe this was the best SF book of that year In the end you can never please everyone when choosing the “best” SF or fantasy novel since taste plays such a major role but voters should consider how well a given book is likely to stand the test of time so when someone picks up an award winner from a previous decade they can be confident it’s at least well written and thought provoking