Robert J. Sawyer Factoring Humanity

ISBN 13: 9780006511861

Factoring Humanity

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9780006511861: Factoring Humanity

From the author of ILLEGAL ALIEN and FRAMESHIFT, more entertaining, thought-provoking, thoroughly modern SF. We gain access to the fourth dimension by deciphering an alien message and discover there the Overmind that links us all.

Heather Davis, a psychologist, deciphers the alien message. She lives alone since her younger daughter, Rebecca, recently moved out. Her eldest child, Mary, killed herself a year ago. After that, she and her husband Kyle Graves, a researcher working on quantum computing, separated because neither of them could handle the grief, but they do not plan to stay apart forever.

But they are driven further apart by Rebecca’s sudden, astonishing accusation of child sexual abuse against her father, with the further unspoken but crystal clear accusation that he abused Mary as a child also and that Mary killed herself because of it. Though Heather tries not to, she gives the idea credence…

When she breaks through to the fourth dimension and the Overmind, she is able to prove first to herself and then to her daughter Becky that Kyle is completely innocent: Becky, and Mary before her, are victims of the same psychologist, an abuse victim herself, who has planted false memories.

Thus the Overmind abolishes subjectivity and related error at a stroke. History moves beyond debate and falsehood. And even before Heather goes public with her discovery (after sharing it with her family), a wave of empathy washes through the world as the alien Overmind at last makes contact.

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Review:

Receiving a message from another, alien civilisation is not enough; you have then to decode it. Heather and her husband Kyle once tried to make sense of the message's geometric riddles and set it aside. It is when she is torn apart by her daughter's accusations of child abuse--she loses whether Kyle is a monster or Rebecca deluded--that Heather tries again, and has a wacky idea born of desperation. Perhaps she needs to get closer to the problem; perhaps she needs literally to get inside it. And when she does, she finds more riddles--just how to cope with knowing the whole truth about everyone and everything? Is this why an old boyfriend committed suicide? Is this an alien kindness, or a trap? Sawyer's novel has its betraying touches of modishness and melodrama, but it also has the charm that comes from good sense convincingly exhibited. If the fate of humanity is to be decided, it is always better done by someone as likeable as Sawyer's Heather. Science is not necessarily best done in an ivory tower; Sawyer is insightful on the way good work is done in the middle of crisis and the everyday. -- Roz Kaveney

From the Back Cover:

By the nebula award winner

For ten years alien data has been pouring in from the Alpha Centauri system, but political protocol has, so far, prevented any response being made. And so far only the first eleven pages of the material has been decoded successfully…

…Psychologist Heather Davis is working on it, but when she suddenly breaks through to the heart of the message, she finds herself in the fourth dimension. She is part of the Overmind and experiencing a massive dose of the first true empathy the human race has ever been granted. It's her personal life and history she thereby learns about. Meanwhile, a warning to all evolved lifeforms awaits interpretation. It may even be a threat…

"Excellent, innovative and imaginative"
'The Washington Post'

"The sense of fun and adventure SF had in its so-called Golden Age… a modern sensibility… the best of both worlds"
'The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction'

"Canada's answer to Michael Crichton"
'Montreal Gazette'

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