Robert J. Sawyer

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Robert J. Sawyer

Robert James Sawyer (born 29 April 1960) is a Canadian science fiction writer, dubbed "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by the Ottawa Citizen in 1999. He describes himself as a "hard science-fiction writer." His work often delves into metaphysics, à la Arthur C. Clarke, and philosophy; he very much comes from the school that says science fiction is the literature of ideas.


Frameshift (1997)[edit]

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Tor ISBN 0-812-57108-8
  • There was a small crucifix above the door to his room; it had been there since he’d been a little boy. He stared up at the tiny Jesus—but there was no point in praying. The die was cast; what was done was done.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 30)
  • ...but there, because there is no grace of God, go I.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 179)
  • He cursed himself for thinking anything this complex would end up not being a source of problems.
    • Chapter 26 (p. 184)
  • “‘Justice,’” he said, his breath coming out raggedly as he quoted another Nobel laureate—at that precise moment, he couldn’t remember which one—“‘is always delayed and finally done only by mistake.’”

Flashforward (1999)[edit]

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Tor ISBN 978-0-8125-8034-1
  • He who foresees calamities suffers them twice over.
  • And Canadians didn’t like guns, either—they had no Second Amendment, or whatever damned thing it was that made Americans think they could go around armed.
    • Chapter 9 (pp. 95-96)
  • Free will is an illusion. It is synonymous with incomplete perception.
  • You’re right to be skeptical—the world would be a better place if we were all a little less credulous.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 137)
  • There may be oodles of possible humans, but it is a finite number.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 167)

Calculating God (2000)[edit]

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Tor ISBN 0-812-58035-4
  • You humans seem to have a profound capacity for ignoring obvious evidence.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 23)
  • Not wanting to die was another universal constant, it seemed.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 70)
  • I did learn one valuable lesson, though.
    I learned that you can’t choose the ways in which you’ll be tested.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 77)
  • Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 137)
  • As one of my Jewish friends has been known to observe, the Jews who survived World War II were either now atheists or hadn’t been paying attention.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 140)
  • I do remember her favorite expression: the Lord works in mysterious ways.
    Perhaps so. But I found it hard to believe he would work in shoddy, haphazard ones.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 165)
  • I believe the creator may have a specific reason for wanting a universe that has life in it, and, indeed, as you say, for wanting multiple sentiences to emerge simultaneously. But it seems clear beyond dispute that the creator takes no interest in specific individuals.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 170)
  • I guess what it means is this: to be human is to be fragile. We are easily hurt, and not just physically. We are easily hurt emotionally, too. So, as you move through life, my son, try not to hurt others.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 204)
  • Sagan may not have believed in the God of the Bible, but he at least allowed the possibility of a creator.
    Or did he? Carl was no more obliged to believe what he wrote in his sole work of fiction than George Lucas was required to believe in the Force.
    • Chapter 24 (p. 227)
  • The Lord works in mysterious ways. Mrs. Lansbury had always said that. Everything happens for a purpose.
    Such bull. Such unmitigated crap. I felt my stomach knotting. Cancer didn’t happen for any purpose. It tore people apart; if a god did create life, then he’s a shoddy workman, churning out flawed, self-destructing products.
    • Chapter 24 (pp. 230-231)
  • Still, you must know that the fear of death is irrational; death comes to everyone.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 235)
  • “And of me you ask which choice you should make?” said the translator’s voice.
    “Yes,” I said.
    There was the sound of rocks grinding, followed by a brief silence, and then: “The moral choice is obvious,” said the Wreed. “It always is.”
    “And?” I said. “What is the moral choice?”
    More sounds of rocks, then: “Morality cannot be handed down from an external source.” ... “It must come from within.”
    “You’re not going to tell me, are you?”
    The Wreed wavered and vanished.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 309; ellipsis represents a minor elision of description)
  • Must God be defined in a way that places him or her beyond the scope of science?
    I’d always believed that there was nothing beyond the scope of science.
    And I still believe that.
    Where do you draw the line?
    Right here. For me, the answer was right here.
    How do you define God?
    Like this. A God I could understand, at least potentially, was infinitely more interesting and relevant than one that defied comprehension.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 326)

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