The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Triggers

October 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm (Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , )

Triggers – by Robert J. Sawyer

I love science fiction, but I rarely read it. The reason I rarely read it is because I don’t like the way most people write it. There are exceptions to the rule. I’m a big fan of Arthur C. Clarke; Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End are two of my favourites. I also adored Asimov’s I, Robot, and enjoyed science fiction by Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card and Robert Heinlein, but these are the exceptions. I find the majority of science fiction writers who take a hard science approach to their stories turn the science into the protagonist or antagonist of the tale, rather than allowing that privilege to one or more of their characters. It accentuates the science, but makes the story feel cold and analytical. It loses its heart. Thankfully, Robert J. Sawyer is not one of those writers, and that’s why I continue to enjoy his books.

Triggers is another one of those delights. The science is woven into the core of the plotline and his research is obvious, but his characters are not just part of the backdrop presented to highlight the science. There is a strong human element to his tale, and he uses the scientific anomaly in the story to touch on such topics as racism, domestic and sexual abuse, professional ethics, and the conflict that sometimes occurs between human rights and the need for national security. I was very impressed by the multiple story threads he had entwined around the central theme, none of them more significant than another, and all of them tied to the science of his fiction. I also like the way he plays with a few extraneous ideas, like the thought processes of those on the autism spectrum (something that impacts me directly) and unusual but notable occurrences like “nominative determinism” (which I just happened to be discussing with my co-workers a couple of days before I read that section of the book, coincidentally.)

I’ve always been fascinated with the concepts of telepathy and the science of memory, so this book probably ranks as one of my favourites by Mr. Sawyer, along with Rollback and The Terminal Experiment (the first book of his I ever read.) I would definitely recommend it as both an enlightening and an entertaining read.


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