The plot of Sawyer's latest near-future SF novel is not exactly built on a sturdy framework (to wit: if it were scaffolding, it would sway in high northerly winds) but there is enough science (quantum states of neuron tubules), characterization (dude loses his memory of doing something BAD) and warnings of overreach by an aggressive American government to give any Canadian pause.
The overall idea, that our consciousness is a result of electrons being entangled in these little pockets inside your neurons, really is fascinating, and the scientists (Hammeroff, Chalmers) are real, live, living human beings who've done some credible and amazing research in this area.
Sawyer uses these ideas to explain the various levels of psychopathy that we see in everyday people, from people who have none at all (you know, folks who don't kick dogs) to egomaniacal narcissists (who probably do kick dogs). Sawyer describes these different types of people well. And the novel isn't bad. It really isn't. It's just... all over the place. It's worth a read... or a listen... but if you're looking for a classic, hero's-journey story arc, this ain't it.
Side note to narrators everywhere (not just Scott Aiello): Do NOT try to mimic Southern accents. You will get it wrong. You got it wrong in this reading, and to be honest, none of you get it right. If you're from the South, you know what I mean. Just don't even try.
Other than that, good book.
Peace and hair grease.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I actually caught myself considering which friends to recommend this book to. On the one hand, I considered those with an academic interest in neuroscience, psychology and society. But then again, some of the novel's premises are really speculative and not based on science, and I suspect some of my scientifically inclined friends would have difficulties looking beyond those faults. Perhaps this is more for those of us who like to speculate more freely about human nature and society; we, the philosophers and private thinkers.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
The book reads very well and is difficult to pause. It would have been easy to consume in one sitting, if the opportunity had materialised.
Any additional comments?
This is a novel that uses speculative neuroscience and psychology to pose interesting questions about human nature and society. It is one of those books that are difficult to talk about without dropping spoilers.
Of course, if one were to evaluate the scientific "basis" of the novel, it would be found wanting at best. But this is not science, it is entertainment and - I guess philofun would be an apt neologism; having fun with philosophical speculation.
Sawyer is getting better. I have read some earlier novels of his and this is an enhancement without doubt. I would argue Sawyer has particular problems with characterisations; his protagonists tend towards the generic. These tendencies are present in this novel as well, but at the same time Sawyer has succeeded in making the protagonists' personalities part of the plot itself. He is turning his weakness into a strength.
Overall very good story and narration. The ending tends towards the phantasmagorical in my opinion; it is interesting, but not quite as satisfactory as I would have liked. Still, a strong four stars book.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Hassan is totally right, when he says the plot is stupid and for him that ruined the whole story. That is saying a lot as Hassan loves the majority of what he listens to. I too had much problems with the plot, especially as it escalated in the last couple of hours. I give the book an overall four stars, mostly because of the whole Philosophical Zombie theory.
In this story 60% of the population is these zombies. This explains why the majority of the population does some of the most stupid things. I believe Sawyer wrote this before Trump was elected, for I can't see how this unashamed Liberal, would not jump on that. He does mention Hitler and explains how he could take over a country. I thought Sawyer made this term up, but it is actually a real theory.
A Lot To Think About
These zombies, don't know they are zombies. They are the people who always follow the crowd, who are predictable in their reactions, who don't seem to have an original thought in their heads. I know of at least two people who come instantly to mind in my life. I know this one guy who I have referred to my wife as cliché man. Every thing this guy says is something you have heard before, every story, every thought and he is always with the popular majority. I have heard him repeat the same story back to me, that I told him months before, as if he was telling me something new. I have seem him in an argument more than once, hear something on tv and he repeats it as if it is his idea. I have also heard him say that he believes he is above the average in intelligence, something that made me laugh inside. Plus isn't that what everyone thinks and isn't that impossible. I also know of a woman who is a teacher in high school, who is much the same. When my wife and I first met her, she seemed very smart, as that is what she kept telling us, but as we got to know her, outside of her subject matter she was totally ignorant. Matter of fact in her own subject matter if it was not something she learned by rote she was clueless. Back to the guy, he has an uncanny ability for knowing all the musical groups and songs from his teenage years. Name any song and he can tell you who wrote it or sang it.
My Own Life
I hope I don't sound like I think I am superior. To be honest I think part of my life, I might have been a Zombie. I think of some of the mindless things I did as a very young youth and I wonder why I did them. Recently I have been remembering my sister getting me up in the morning, feeding me breakfast and me walking to school. For a couple of years I would walk to school and get there hours before anyone else did. I did this day after day and never thought it weird. There is some other stuff I did, that I now think back on as pretty boring stupid stuff that I did over and over, without thinking I was doing anything out of the ordinary. What brought out of this I don't know and maybe you think I still am a zombie. To this day, I believe I suffer, due to my lack of drive and ambition as a child. Now I am ambitious and usually end up being the leader in any group, but have been known to lack empathy. I feel that it is due to a lack of experience as a human. At 59 I am still learning how to be human.
This book made me think more than any book in a long time.
18 of 23 people found this review helpful
I read a lot of negative reviews about this book before I decided to give it a go. In the end, many of the points made were indeed verified. But, disagreeing with a character's, or even the author's, life view does not mean I cannot enjoy a story. The utilitarian world view, like all world views, has some good points and some not so good. If I were only to read books that neatly matched my own views about life - well lets just say I'd have a large number of unused credits.
I don't always agree with Sawyer, but he writes good books and his heart is in the right place. Quantum Night was a thought provoking story. So much so that I'll be thinking about the premise long after I've forgotten the story.
The idea that there is a large number of people operating without any real substance or depth to their personality, no inner voice as Sawyer puts it, is hard to ignore. I've been looking at people and situations with a tinted view since listening to this book and it would explain an awful lot. So would a significantly larger number of psychopaths for that matter.
If you enjoy Sawyer's books, give this one a go. You might find you learn a bit about yourself and your fellow humans.
Or maybe you'll just appreciate an intelligent and interesting story.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I like Robert. J. Sawyer's work, the WWW trilogy and other work of his was done very well, and the story was enjoyable... But I have been less enjoying his work lately... I thought that this book might be good, and when I got it and started listening to it I thought "Great start, this book is going to be awesome"... But by the end of the book I just wanted to delete it and never think about it ever again...
The plot was stupid, I thought the story is going in a certain path, but all the sudden it changed to something completely different.... I'm going to explain things here, so if you want to still go ahead and buy it, then don't read the following:
In this world, a psychologist figured out that there a 3 type of humans, let's call them the dummy ones (robots), the evil ones and the smart good guys. Then at the end of the story, the guy wanted to change the whole population of earth so robots become smart, emil become dummies, and smart become evil...
Honestly this is a stupid story, and I wish I didn't waste my credit .,.. I'm sorry Mr. Sawyer, am not attacking you , I love some of your other work... It just this one wasn't awful... And the sad bit is, that I liked the characters, I really did... But the plot was awful
I you liked Sawyer's other work, then please, don't waste your time listening to this one. Go and read the WWW trilogy, much better work.
9 of 12 people found this review helpful
This is a great listen for the whole world. It is extra special for any Canadian SF fan who will enjoy all the intimate references like the projected future for the current mayor of Calgary. If you have an interest in psychology and know about the Stanley Milgram experiment (check it out with Wikipedia) or the current research on psychopaths, there are a lot of interesting ideas explored in this book.
Our hero will fluctuate between three states of consciousness. He will be a psychopath, a person with a conscience and a psychological zombie. That third state is one of the SF constructs of the book that temptingly explains so much of this world that seems to defy logic for some of us after the upheavals in the last year.
The ideas explored, the moral quandaries, the tense action and an unexpected fate for Canada and the entire world makes this a rip roaring adventure. This is one of those books that is time sensitive since it focuses on the next few years. That is a big plus and adds more meaning if you read it before 2020. Robert Sawyer went out on a limb putting out a book with an expiry date. Make it your next SF experience.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful