Summary

In the near future, a signal is detected coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Mysterious, unintelligible data streams in for ten years. Heather Davis, a professor in the University of Toronto psychology department, has devoted her career to deciphering the message. Her estranged husband, Kyle, is working on the development of artificial intelligence systems and new computer technology utilizing quantum effects to produce a near-infinite number of calculations simultaneously.
When Heather achieves a breakthrough, the message reveals a startling new technology that rips the barriers of space and time, holding the promise of a new stage of human evolution. In concert with Kyle's discoveries of the nature of consciousness, the key to limitless exploration - or the end of the human race - appears close at hand.Sawyer has created a gripping thriller, a pulse-pounding tour of the farthest reaches of technology. Factoring Humanity is a 1999 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel.
©2003 Robert J. Sawyer (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"[T]his is exciting, readable science fiction that will take you where no one has gone before - and you'll never forget the ending." (Amazon.com review)
"An intelligent and absorbing double-stranded narrative." ( Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Donna on 06-10-12

The Most Thought Provoking Book I've Read in Ages

Wow, what a truly brilliant read. This book really had me thinking, what with quantum mechanics, parallel universes, mind reading, artificial intelligence and first contact with aliens it covered so much and was a total page turner. Robert J Sawyer is a truly fantastic writer, but in this book he really is outstanding. Probably ranks as one of my favourite reads of all times.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Michael G Kurilla on 28-05-12

Novel alien first contact

Sawyer has crafted a novel twist on a first contact theme. This near future tale has earth receiving for the past 10 years, alien messages (one every 30 hours). Beyond the initial set that contained formulas for chemicals, the remainder have been inscrutable.Our main characters are estranged husband and wife professors focused on quantum computing and psychology, respectively. The wife has been engaged with a world wide effort to decipher the messages and makes the seminal breakthrough after the messages mysteriously stop. While all of this is occurring, the couple is also dealing with accusations of sexual molestation by their only living daughter. What follows as a result of her "cracking" the alien messages would delight Freud and Jung, but at the same time will render her profession obsolete.

Conceptually, this work is ambitious and quite engrossing. Sawyer has identified a novel mechanism for an alien encounter that does not involve either warlike aggression on the part of the aliens, nor engender an equally militaristic defensive posture on the part of earth. Some of the actions of characters are downright petty when the full power of the alien message/gift is made clear, but then Sawyer keeps the focus on the individual. At the same time, Sawyer also glosses over the ramifications of alterations in societal organization as a result as well.

The narration is solid and inviting with a more than adequate range to handle the diversity of characters. Overall, this is well suited for a beach listen or transcontinental flight.

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14 of 16 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 09-03-13

It's not as good as Sawyer's later novels

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No, I would not recommend this book to a friend because it feels dated and the author has many better books after this one. This is near-future sci-fi. It was written in the mid-90's and it feels like that. The story incorporates the hot-button issues of that time, like theraphist implanting false memories, quantum computing, and the fourth dimension. The way these topics are presented in this book, they don't withstand the test of time. Additionally, Swayer doesn't presuade the reader that the technology he is describing is feasable. This gives the book a fantasy feel more than sci-fi. His later novels, describe some pretty fantastic events, however, in them it is more convincing that we're still in this universe. Comparing this story to Swayer's later work, like the Neanderthal Paralax, shows the maturation of his story telling ability.

What was most disappointing about Robert J. Sawyer’s story?

The technology felt dated and the plot was perdictable and boring.

What three words best describe Katherine Kellgren’s performance?

Good, Sufficient, Melodramatic

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes, I would see a movie made about this book because I'd want to see a Tesserac on the big screen.

Any additional comments?

Melodramatic...

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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