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Publisher's Summary

With such compelling and provocative novels as Red Planet Blues, FlashForward, and The WWW Trilogy, Robert J. Sawyer has proven himself to be "a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation" (The New York Times). Now, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author explores the thin line between good and evil that every human being is capable of crossing....
Experimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined about his breakthrough in court, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life from 20 years previously - a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.
Jim is reunited with Kayla Huron, his forgotten girlfriend from his lost period and now a quantum physicist who has made a stunning discovery about the nature of human consciousness. As a rising tide of violence and hate sweeps across the globe, the psychologist and the physicist combine forces in a race against time to see if they can do the impossible - change human nature - before the entire world descends into darkness.
©2016 Robert J. Sawyer (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Sawyer's latest work is a fast-moving, mind-stretching exploration of the nature of personality and consciousness; it balances esoteric speculation with action and character." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Keith on 03-21-16

Discombobulated, but interesting

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.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jim "The Impatient" on 12-02-17


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.

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37 of 43 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Xdresser on 05-23-16

Near future setting. Moral dilemmas faced with unconvincing technology

The book starts well with a top psychologist acting as an expert witness at a murder trial involving the death penalty only to discover there is a period of his own life he has no memories of. He traces the problem back to scientific experiments he helped with as a student. There is some serious discussion of the basis of morality but the application of quantum physics to the brain failed to convince me and when it went on to tackle World War Three it lost me altogether.

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