I just finished Rollback
by Robert Sawyer. It's not very long and it's very interesting so it's a really quick book. I finished it in less than a day.
There are some nice ideas in Rollback
. The basic plot is that aliens from Sigma Draconis contacted us in 2009. The astronomer who actually figures out what their message means works on a reply and is still alive (but just barely) when the Draconian's counter-reply is received in 2048. She's offered a "rollback", a medical rejuvanation procedure that will result in her having a 25 year old body instead of an 89 year old body so that she can work on the new message. She insists that her husband get the procedure as well. Then something goes wrong . . .
There's at least a couple of subplots, but probably the most interesting is the ongoing flashback that follows the process of figuring out the first message, which ends up being a sort of morals/ethics questionnaire. The characters discuss the moral/ethics questions quite a bit and there's this nice tidbit about halfway through:
Character A: You realize, don't you, that, as a society, we're on the verge of creting a virtual world so real that it would be indistinguishable from reality, sorta like The Matrix
Character B: Okay, I'll give you that.
A: Also, we're doing high energy physics experiments that may result in the creation of "pocket universes". . .
B: Still with you . . .
A: If we then created a virtual reality on the order of The Matrix
, or created a pocket universe in a particle accelerator, we'd be gods, wouldn't we?
B: Maybe. . .
A: We'd have to grapple with the questions of what obligation we owe to our creation, and what obligations our creations might owe to us.
B: Okay. . .
A: Isn't it hubris then, if we can imagine ourselves as gods, that we categorically deny the possibility that we've
Certainly not a proof, but more satisfying than the "you can't dis
-prove it so it must be so" argument. Also, a nice little idea. The book is full of those. I heartily recommend this book. It was great fun and didn't take very much time. Please read it.
Also, I just finished A Meeting at Corvallis
, the latest in the Dies the Fire
series. It was pretty long and very nice if you think you'd like to read long descriptions of post-apocalyptic neo-medieval battles using catapults powered by truck suspensions and arrows with credit card flechettes. The only thing I don't like about this series are the interminable descriptions of Wicca ceremonies. I've learned much more about Wicca than I ever wanted to know by reading these novels. Not that there's anything wrong with Wicca, but I can't abide ceremonies in real life, so I don't want to read ten pages of cereomony in a story. Other than that, I'd recommend this series as well.