Interviews,  RLovatt

Interview with Robert J. Sawyer

Quantum Night


A few weeks back I sat down with award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer, author of Flash Foward, Calculating God, and Quantum Night, amongst others. I had hoped to have this up about a week ago, but due to a hectic schedule and technical difficulties, that didn’t prove possible.


However, as we discussed his newest title, Quantum Night, and it being released today (March 1st 2016), it seems like more than a fitting time to share (the audio will be posted ASAP).

Without further ado:


[RL = Rebecca Lovatt, RJS = Robert J. Sawyer]

RL: All right, I am here with Robert J Sawyer, author of Red Planet Blues, Flashforward, the WWW trilogy among others, including the forthcoming Quantum Night on March 1st. Can you tell us something about yourself that readers wouldn’t know?


RJS: Well they might not know that I’m a dual American-Canadian citizen, and that’s significant in this novel. I’m usually thought of as a Canadian science fiction writer. I live in Toronto, and I was born in Ottawa, but my mother was a grad student temporarily in Canada when I was born, and just like Ted Cruz running for president of the United States right now, that was enough to confer upon me American citizenship. The reason I bring it up in relation to this novel, is the novel, more than any book I’ve ever written, is about the United States and Canada being in conflict.

I suppose I’m trying to deflect a few of the easy criticisms, which are, well, “this Canadian is dissing the United States.” I don’t think I’m dissing the United States, I’m dissing Canada equally as much, if I’m dissing anybody. But the fact that I legitimately have citizenship in both countries, I think, does entitle me to comment on the politics of both countries.


RL: And can you tell us a little bit about Quantum Night?


RJS: Quantum Night is about an experimental psychologist at the University of Manitoba who develops a flawless technique for identifying psychopaths. And to his astonishment discovers that far from being the 1 to 2 percent of the population generally anticipated, that they are, in fact, a large percentage, maybe 40 percent of the population.

The knowledge of this, combined with the knowledge that most of the other people don’t have any consciousness at all, that they are philosophical zombies or philosopher zombies with the lights on and nobody home is a world-changing discovery for him, and has a huge impact on the human race.


RL: And do you think that with the advances in medical sciences that we’ve been seeing of the years that this or something like this would be possible in the future?


RJS: No, I do think so. In fact, I was very fortunate a couple years ago, I was invited to Cambridge University to give a talk there. Darwin lecture series, and during that talk I decided I wanted to look up a guy who taught at Cambridge named Kevin Dutton who’d written a nonfiction book called The Wisdom of the Psychopaths, and I described to him the technique I had mooted in the novel I was writing at that time, Quantum Night, for how to identify psychopaths.

He said: “Has that been done? Has that test been actually empirically been done?” I said “No”, and he said “That’s a really interesting idea, and if your novel career ever fizzles out there is a place for you in my lab.” So I was really gratified about that.

The reality is that psychopaths have an incredibly intense stare. This is anecdotally reported, and I suggest that it actually is physically measurable by psychopaths failing to do micro saccades, which are really really tiny eye jiggers that go on all the time in normal people. It makes their stare absolutely hypnotic reptilian, but also would be a physical correlate, an external physical correlate of the internal mental state of having no empathy and whether that or something else will turn out to be a definitive test, I don’t know. But I suspect that it’s as diagnosable definitively as any other medical condition.


RL: Having read the book, I think it would be interesting to see how it played out in reality compared to your fiction.


RJS: Right now we test for psychopaths with a comprehensive survey. It was a Canadian who developed it, Robert Hare, at the University of British Columbia, he’s an emeritus professor there now. But it’s used worldwide, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, and the problems with it are, one: supposedly, only an expert can administer it, two: there is some disagreement when two different experts test the same person.

Now, right now I have a husky voice because I think I have a cold, a doctor should be able to definitively determine that yes or no. The way we treat psychopathy and most other mental disorders is that ultimately comes down to, well, “this expert decided to score it this way, and therefore made this determination,” and I suspect we will see that change.

RL: As a people, what would our responsibility be to these philosophical zombies? Nature versus nurture and all that.

RJS: It’s a very interesting question about whether philosophical zombies exist. Descarte said the three most famous words in philosophy which are Cogito, ergo sum. I think, therefor I am, therefore I know that I exist, but it can only ever be implied to the individual having that thought. I have no way of knowing for sure that you, asking me these questions, Rebecca, actually are not an automaton, a robot, an artificial intelligence, or that whether or not you have an inner life and if I ask you a question. Oh in fact I did on the way here, I said: “Do you have any thoughts on where we might have the interview?” and you said, “I have many, but none that are useful.”

I just have to take your word for that, you might in fact have none whatsoever.


RL: Actually the one thought I had was just “braaaains.”


RJS: The philosophical zombie, it’s interesting that you bring that up. I wanted to call the book “The Philosopher’s Zombie”. It is the right title for this book, but it is the wrong title for the marketplace. Because the term zombie, especially with the ascendancy of Walking Dead and Z Nation, has become utterly embedded in the pop culture psyche as being the walking dead who are shambling after people to eat their brains. When David Chalmers two decades ago mooted the idea of a philosophical zombie he simply meant that they had no inner life. Not that they were ravenous, reanimated corpses.

So the title would have confused the marketplace, but anybody who has studied even a single course in philosophy, or in most cases, an introductory psychology course can’t have failed but to encountered Chalmers thought experiment, which is this: how do we know that there isn’t an infinite number of people other than ourselves who just appear to have inner lives but don’t really? You ask what’s our obligation to them, that’s a really good question.

The main character discovers that in the year that the novel is set, it’s set in the year 2020, he discovers subsequently that his thesis supervisor had discovered it almost 20 years earlier but had kept quiet about it. Because as he said, if you went public with this, cannon fodder for the armies, experimental subjects, even soylent green he says would be the least of the things that would happen to the bulk of humanity who is identifiable. That person isn’t really human and isn’t entitled to human consideration.

So what is our obligation? Our obligation is to treat anything as we want to be treated. I mean, every religion comes around to ultimately the golden rule. Which is to do unto others as you have them do unto you, and it doesn’t matter whether the others are sensate. All that matters is that you are showing by example how you would wish you and yours be treated, and I think that would probably be our obligation to philosopher zombies. Especially since all they can do is emulate, right? A philosopher zombie doesn’t sit down and think through: “How should I treat third world refugees?”, “How should I treat the whore?”, “How should I help someone who slipped on the ice?” as is happening in frequently today in Toronto, I’m sure.

The only thing they can do is emulate behaviors that they have seen, so if we treat them with kindness the default bounce back from them is to treat us with kindness. It is actually in our interest to be kind even to those who are not aware on a conscious level that we are being kind to them.


RL: Kind of like NPCs in the more modern video games where you can attack NPCs but you will get attacked back.


RJS: Yes, yes exactly. I was a hot and cold of the new Battlestar Galactica, but to me the most chilling line in the entire show was said by one of the officers aboard the Pegasus actually. The sistership to Galactica who said, when there was rampant sexual abuse of Cylons, who in the new Galactica are flawlessly identical to humans, he said: “You can’t rape a machine.” Meaning it’s perfectly fine to go around and sexually abuse Cylons because they are machines, and we have done that so often in our history — dehumanized whoever we perceive as the enemy that it is never been to our credit to do that.


RL: Yeah.

RJS: We always come eventually to regret, but we never learn the lesson. I want people reading this book in part to learn that lesson.

RL: I’m sure they will. It’s not too many layers beneath the surface.

RJS: You know, it’s funny. I often talk about science-fiction being a genre in which masks and disguises and metaphors are used to get into a subject matter that people otherwise might not be predisposed to engage with. Yet so much science fiction is actually pretty blatant. One of my favorite films is the 1968 original Planet of the Apes and it is all about the two central zeitgeist issues of 1968. Mainly the fear of the Vietnam Conflict escalating to World War 3 and the nuclear holocaust ensuing and race relations.

The film is as on the nose as you can possibly be on those issues. The first ape who speaks at any length in Planet of the Apes, that is more than one word, is making a complaint to his boss about the fact that the racial quota system has kept him from advancing the way he should. All the good jobs are taken by orangutans, and that’s on the nose. That’s being blatant about what they are talking about. And what I have learned over the years is that the subtlety is lost on a lot of people, and it doesn’t hurt if you’ve got something you think is important to share with the world. It doesn’t hurt to ensure that the people get the message.


RL: Because a lot of the time I guess if people are sitting down to just read a book or watch a movie for enjoyment, they turn off their critical faculties.


RJS: The classic example for me is the treatment of R2D2 and C3P0 in the original Star Wars trilogy. They are clearly slaves, Luke and his uncle Owen are clearly slave owners. The first thing they do when they buy the slaves from the Jawa slave traders is Luke welds restraining bolts onto the two droids, 3P0 and R2. Specifically to keep them from running away, doing exactly what a plantation owner would have done, manacling his slaves so they couldn’t run away.

And when they go to Mos Eisley the barkeep says ‘we don’t serve their kind in here,’ this is 1977, he’s saying words that were legal a decade earlier for white people to say to black people in the United States. Yet almost never does anybody reflect on the fact that the supposedly pure and virtuous archetypal hero was a slave owner who felt nothing about manacling the slaves and making them do his bidding.

Throughout the film, it’s blatant, 3P0 always calls Luke “master”, “Master Luke”, it can’t be more blatant than that, and yet it’s missed by almost everybody who ever watched Star Wars.

RL: Of course, because they’re robots, they’re not people.


RJS: Because they’re robots they’re not people, and because of what you said Rebecca. Which is the turning off of the critical faculty. That so many people decide that entertainment is equivalent to escapism, and I think the enduring entertainment that we produced as a species, plays of Shakespeare, the Greek tragedies, the great modern novels. The novels of social change like To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin were wonderfully, in every case, entertaining, but never one second could be dismissed as escapism. And I think good science fiction should not be dismissable as escapism either.


RL: Yeah. Because I mean even fantasy, which is you know, magic and wizards and orcs, there are always messages, it’s just whether or not you choose to listen to them.

RJS: Yes.

RL: Switching to a slightly different topic, are there any advances in technology that you would like to see?

RJS: Well, it’s interesting, I had the sadness just about a month ago, of losing my mother at 90 years of age. I’ve been writing science fiction novels now for 25 years, and a recurrent theme had been radical life prolongation, that it seemed to me we were due for it. That it is a tractable biological problem. We age for specific reasons, our bodies decay for reasons that we now have a pretty good understanding of, and it seems to me that we should be able to do something about that.

Yet, I’ve found myself less interested in that in the last couple years than I was previously. My younger brother died three years ago from lung cancer, my mom just died, he died way too young. Nobody would say a person in the developed world should die at 51, which is what my brother died at, my mother made it to 90 and everyone says that is a good ripe old age. Either way, they had good lives, and it has been often a theme in science fiction and there’s this whole singulatarian movement and a post humanist movement that has grown out of science fiction fandom and science fiction readership that says the goal of humanity should be to upload and live forever.

I don’t know, I don’t know. Having actually seen my younger brother pass with dignity and my older mother, obviously, my mother who is older, live a good full life and leave a nice legacy behind her, I’m not sure. So I would have answered that question radical life prolongation, and I’m friends with Aubrey Degray, who is the forefront of the advocacy for that and with Greg Benford, the great science fiction writer and physicist who actually owns a company who does research in that area.

But you know what, if we never get to it, that’s ok.


RL: As it is, compared to life spans a hundred or two hundred years ago, we have.


RJS: Yes, we have long life spans, healthy life spans, we almost never worry about what we are going to eat in the developed world and that’s wonderful.


RL: Yeah.


RJS: That’s wonderful, so I don’t know what technological advance I’m looking forward to these days. Although I do hope that a few of the interesting recent advances, the unmanned mission to Pluto and our unmanned missions to Mars will spur us to finally getting off this planet again. You know, I’m older than you, I was born before 1972 which means I remember human beings on another world. You were born after 1972. In your lifetime, nobody has ever gone more than 500 kilometers from earth.

You can go farther in a half days driving, and many of us have here on Earth, than anyone has gone away from Earth. In what’s coming up on 44 years now, it’s ridiculous.

RL: Yeah, that’s true and hopefully that will happen. There has been all these movements, like Mars One and all these others that are theoretically one day manned trips to Mars and extraterrestrial planets, which would be nice.

RJS: There’s no question that a thousand years from now we’ll be on other worlds. Assuming we survive. It’s still an open question on whether we are going to be on them 100 years from now. Whenever there gets to be a momentum, it dissipates. You know, George W. Bush who had a great many failings, did announce a plan to put human beings on Mars, he just forgot to earmark any money for it.


RL: And on the flipside of that question, are there any advances that you don’t want to see?


RJS: I have become very interested in Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller, the fathers respectively, of the atom bomb and the hydrogen bomb. Brilliant minds and they devoted a key part of their career to building weapons of mass destruction. Tellers has never been used on people, Oppenheimer’s was at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it always astonishes me. It’s one of the things I talk about in Quantum Night. It always astonishes me that the most brilliant people in the world are willing to build the things that the dumbest people in the world want them to build.

How about building a device that can wipe out a whole civilian population? Oh that’s a sweet problem, that’s the very word that both Teller and Oppenheimer would use, sweet. The physics is interesting, the engineering is intriguing and it was only after the fact that Oppenheimer developed any sort of conscience and there is no real evidence that Teller ever did, over putting us to the brink of destruction, of death as a species. So advances I don’t hope for? Any further advances in our ability to destroy each other.

We’ve gone as far as any species ever should, and we need to take a step back. Just last week as we’re talking here, there were rumors that North Korea had tested a hydrogen bomb. Hydrogen, which is way more powerful than the atomic bomb. I don’t think it’s going to pan out that they really did it. It’s cheaper to issue a press release saying you did it than to actually build it. But the idea that these kinds of weapons are available, a mania like Kim Jong-il or Vladimir Putin, or any other maniacs who might want a name on the plaques… Psychopaths would not be able to carry out their agendas of genocide and mass destruction if it weren’t for the brightest physicists and chemists and engineers on the planet saying, “Oh ok, I’m in.”

RL: They just seem to think: ‘I wonder if I can solve that’, and they do.

RJS: And they do, and then we live in fear now. You know, 1945 was the first use of an atomic bomb on a civilian population, and we are all literally waiting for the other shoe to drop. For it to happen again.

RL: Especially when just a month or so ago, there was the rising tensions of Turkey shooting down a plane.

RJS: Yes, and Donald Trump saying he would shoot down Russian airplanes that violate airspace, almost certainly triggering World War 3. It’s just political rhetoric, but he’s saying it.

RL: Yeah, one of these day that shoe will drop, unfortunately.

Let’s see, switching topics, are there any news on big or small screen adaptions of any of your works?

RJS: I’m off to a meeting right after this with the company for which I wrote the commissioned screenplay adaptation of my novel Triggers. It’s a company in Toronto called Copperheart, they’re best known for The Cube franchise of science fiction films and the Ginger Snaps films franchise of horror films and until quite recently they had the rights to Anne Mccaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern and had that in development as well.

I had a great time writing the screenplay, and now it’s up to the producers to come up with the money. It’s been budgeted very roughly at about 45 million dollars. Which is not big by Hollywood standards, but would make it if, if we get it made, the most expensive independent Canadian future in Canadian film history. So we have our fingers crossed.

I’m just about to close a deal, I’m sure it’s going to close, on optioning my novel Red Planet Blues to some producers in Los Angeles, and the producers in Toronto have, astonishingly to me, had my novel The Terminal Experiment under option now for, I think it is 9 years, are re-upping for a 10th. So all of that is exciting, and I’ve been working on developing with two different production companies, two different TV series. Both of those are originals, as opposed to adaptations of my 23 novels, and I’m very enthusiastic about those projects.

RL: That’s very exciting, hopefully all or some of those pan out.

RJS: If they all come to pass I don’t know what I’ll do, but if some of them come to pass that would be great. I would love for anyone of them. I had such a great experience on the Flash Forward TV series on my novel of the same name, but that’s now coming up on, well it premiered in 2009 and we’re in 2016, so it’s coming up on 7 years next month since we made the pilot. I’m itching to get back into that arena.

RL: You just mentioned that you have 23 novels, where should readers start if they’re not familiar with your work?

RJS: Of those 23, 9 are in 3 trilogies. Don’t start with one of the trilogies. I’m a big believer in people being fans of a writer as opposed to fans of a world and it’s a trap that a lot of readers and writers fall into. I would much prefer people’s try one of my stand-alones and if they like it, then try another one of my stand-alones. So of my recent novels besides Quantum Night, Triggers I think is very typical of a Rob Sawyer novel.

It’s a big idea thrashed out in all it’s details of the philosophical implications, taken very seriously. I just got off the Skype on the weekend with a book club in Calgary that was doing my novel Calculating God, and that seems to be, setting aside Flash Forward which is an outlier, it has more attention than any of my books because of the TV series. Setting it aside, Calculating God seems to be the one that most people seem to get hooked on me with. If they read that they keep reading me. So I would recommend that.

RL: Makes sense. It would really help if I wrote in such a way that I could read it. So lately we have been seeing a lot of rise of fantasy series, tv and movie. Do you see science fiction’s popularity rising or falling respectively to that?

RJS: I heard a fascinating analysis awhile ago, because science fiction rules at the box office. The Martian is gigantic for instance, and assuming you classify the Force Awakens as science fiction, it’s the biggest film in film history. Yet science fiction does very poorly on the home screen, if it exists at all it’s on, in all credit to them, on SyFy or on Space which are small outlets.

It’s not on the major networks in any meaningful way, or when it is, as was Flash Forward, it’s done in a way that a lot of people say, well that’s not science fiction because there’s no space ships, no robots and no aliens. Not even a future setting for Flash Forward. In the analysis I read said, here’s the difference fundamentally — Now i don’t know if it’s true or not, but it’s worth considering. — Which is that film-going is largely driven, still in the United States in the core demographic that they are after, which is teenage to mid 20’s people. The choice of films is largely driven by men.

Watching in the home by that same demographic is largely driven by women. So men will take women on dates to a science fiction film and the woman will endure it, but they won’t endure it for 13 or 26 weeks on a regular basis. They say “yeah, we will go to the film but we better go somewhere nice to dinner afterwards.” It’s a very interesting analysis and I know my own readership is 50/50 male/female but it was an attempt to try and make sense of this divide of why it is, that science fiction is box office gold, but fizzles on the small screen.

You know, if a show on SyFy is really successful it has 850,000 viewers out of the 350,000,000 Americans. It’s miniscule. There has to be an explanation for it, I don’t know if the gender divide thing bears closer scrutiny. I rather suspect it probably doesn’t, but at least it was an attempt to grapple with it. I’m hoping that the success of The Martian in particular will pave the way for more ambitious science fiction.

When we did Flash Forward, ABC said to us, “Every time you use a technical term, 250,000 don’t return after the commercial break. Which mean you lose after 5 commercial breaks 1.52 million viewers. So don’t do that all right? Stay away from those doing that.” And The Martian is full of technical concepts that with one embarrassing exception are just thrown out, trusting that the audience will either follow along or get enough of the gist that they don’t have to understand the specifics. When Watney uses moving the Mars Rover’s camera to spell out messages in hexadecimal, they don’t spend 20 minutes making that clear.

If you know what hexadecimal is, if you’ve ever taken a computer programming course you followed, and if you didn’t you got what you needed to know. And nobody, brightly, at the studio said that’s too complex for the movie going audience. No, they went through that, they went through a lot of the things. The only part that was embarrassing in that film, was when the NASA geek explains to the Director of NASA using props how orbital rendezvous and so forth, and slingshot orbits work. That was unbelievable that those characters in that setting would have that conversation and it was clearly talking down to the audience.

The rest of the film did none of that, and it still became box office gold.


RL: It’s good that movies like that, they don’t need to pretend that the audience is stupid, which is nice.

RJS: Right, because the audience isn’t stupid. A lot of the audience that used to go to films, has given up going to films, because so much in terms of comedy in particular became so gross and juvenile that you can go to any and not really feel like it’s engaged you in any kind of meaningful way. The television that is being written today, as everyone says, is the best television ever being written. The scripts are astonishingly good and the canvas is gigantic when you do something like A Game of Thrones. Which is a serial that goes on and on.

The canvas is huge, bigger story telling, more complex story telling than has ever been done in the visual medium in any form. Science fiction lends itself to that, and I’m hoping that if not one of my shows, though I would certainly love it if it was, but that somebody will crack the big networks again with something that nobody can say isn’t science fiction.


RL: Right now we have the Expanse right now, but that’s on SyFy.

RJS: It’s on SyFy and Space, I mean it’s good, they’ve just been picked up for a second season. But why is the Force Awakens the biggest box office smash of all time, and the only space opera on TV, on a narrow specialty channel? Why aren’t NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox clamoring to have shows like that? CBS Paramount owns Star Trek and they’ve decided that their new Star Trek series coming a year from now will not be on CBS. That’s crazy, it’s going to be on their new digital competitor for Netflix, but not on CBS, not on the main network.

So there’s a huge disconnect. The Expanse is great and I love the guys who wrote the books that it’s based on, but it should be on one of the major networks.

RL: Then we have on the fantasy side, Shannara on MTV.

RJS: That’s right, exactly. Who would have thought? You know, HBO has done astonishingly well given that it’s an expensive premium network, in having large reach for Game of Thrones, but it’s kind of astonishing that Game of Thrones, well of course it’s violent and has a lot of nudity. But that someone didn’t say at NBC, CBS, or Fox that nobody said what’s like Game of Thrones. Well Terry Brooks has this series, why don’t we snap that up and make it primetime gold?

And instead no, it ends up in this oddball place being seen by a small audience.

RL: And MTV is not where you would go for a fantasy series.

RJS: No, not at all.

RL: And then I think Fox has the rights to Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind series.

RJS: Which will be interesting to see if they do it. People buy rights all the time, I’ve had things optioned repeatedly and I remember a friend of mine was the screenwriter who was adapting Larry Niven’s Ringworld from SyFy until the calls came that said well we’re not going to do Ringworld we’re going to do something else.

I want to come back to Quantum Night for a moment and just say I’m generally thought of as an optimistic writer. My visions of the future shade towards the utopium and I like to think that’s not simple naivety, but it’s easy for those who don’t like my work to make that charge. I wrote Quantum Night in part to respond to that notion, that you know it’s easy when you’re writing about liberal academics in a free society like Canada as I often do in my books, to have a bright rosy future.

It’s harder to, if you engage with the whole panoply of humanity to paint quite as rosy a picture, and so Quantum Night is a deliberate attempt to engage with the dark side, with why there appears to be such a thing as evil. Why it flourishes, why it seems to be on the upswing, why we are becoming in many places more polarized, more violent, more intolerant than anybody extrapolating from 1960 would have predicted that 2016 would be.

So this is, I think, the novel  has lots and lots of funny lines in it. People should laugh out loud in lots of places, it’s not supposed to be an unpleasant reading experience, but it is an attempt to grapple with the bad side of the human condition. And if there is a message, something that I came to understand as I wrote this, is that the most pernicious line we ever told ourselves as a species is that you can’t change human nature.

Yes, you can. A classical example on this, I don’t have any kids, I’m 55, I’m not going to have any kids. But a lot of my friends have had kids, and the role of the father changed completely between my father’s generation and my generation in North America. It went from being the disciplinarian, that authoritarian, the aloof figure, and possible to sole breadwinner as well. To being intimately engaged in every part of their sons and daughters lives. A complete change, and guys have been marching for several generations in this role that had been defined for them and just sort of said you know what we’re missing out on the whole point, from many people’s point of view of being human.

Which is to pass on to the next generation, let’s stop playing that stupid game. Lets change, and an entire gender, half the population for an entire generation said let’s change human nature. Let’s make dad’s intimately proactively involved in taking their kids to sporting events, picking them up after school, dropping them off at school. Going to the PTA meetings, let’s stop shucking parenting off on one half of the union. That’s a case in point. We can wake up and say wait a minute, somewhere we took a wrong turn, let’s have a course correction.

Quantum Night, if it’s about anything at all, it’s about a course correction.

RL: Yeah, what you said earlier, it’s definitely not one of your lighter happier books.

RJS: No it’s not.

RL: As someone who has read it, it is a good read though.

RJS: Well thank you, I’m glad you think so. My editor at Penguin Canada thought it was the best novel I’d ever written and I think technically I’m inclined to agree. I do think people will enjoy it, it’s dealing with heavy themes but there’s nothing worse than a heavy book that nobody can get through. It fails in its mission if it’s not entertaining. So I set out to write intriguing characters, intriguing interpersonal relationships, funny one liners, and enough absurd situations where people will just chuckle at the action and also hopefully that’s the sugar-coating that get’s the medicine to go down.

RL: Well I’m not a huge science fiction read, but I read it quite quickly if I recall correctly.

RJS: Well I’m grateful, and yes it should be a page turner.

It’s science fiction but it definitely fits into the thriller sub genre of science fiction where one of the virtues is compulsive readability of that sub genre and I tried to strive for that. I did the same thing in Red Planet Blues and Triggers, where I’d written more languorously paced books. Calculating God is not a thriller in any way shape or form, but that was appropriate for that story. This kind of pacing is appropriate for this story.

RL: Alright, shall we call this wrap then?

RJS: That’s great, thank you Rebecca.

RL: Thank you for joining us!

Quantum Night will be out March 1st, 2016 be sure to check it out.


Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out Quantum Night on Chapters, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Also, if you live in the Toronto area, join Robert J. Sawyer in launching his book tonight. Event details here. 

Rebecca created The Arched Doorway back in 2011 as an outlet for her thoughts on the books she reads. She spends her time as a freelance editor and reviewer. Her first anthology, Neverland's Library, came out in 2014 from Ragnarok Publications. Rebecca primarily reads historical and epic fantasy novels, such as those by Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Christian Cameron and Terry Brooks. She lives in Toronto, ON with her two snakes and hundreds of books.

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