>> Thursday, April 2, 2009

End of an Era is the novel that Robert J. Sawyer ’s wife recommended when I asked her, via email, for “the best” Sawyer novel to read if one was interested in the topic of viral contagion, since that was the subject of one of my courses this semester.

End of an Era is a relatively short novel, easily read during one rather longish soak in the tub (no, I did not drown) And it does indeed address the topic of viral contagion, although not explicitly so until the latter part of the novel. Archeologist Brandon Thackery and his colleague & friend, Klicks, travel back in time in an effort to study dinosaurs before their extinction, and to attempt to discover the reason for their eradication. And yes, of course they are successful…but beyond that, I ain’t telling.

In addition to dinosaurs, time travel, and viral contagion, the novel includes aliens, space & astronomy - all packed into an engaging and highly readable package. As always, Sawyer succeeds in incorporating so much actual science that by the end of the book you feel like you’ve learned a whole lot - given that it is, after all, science fiction, you don’t necessarily know how much of it could actually happen (might have to Ask Stephanie ) …but it all feels pretty believable. That is, I think, one of the major differences between Sawyer and many other science fiction authors, and it is one I very much enjoy.

To read Chapter 1 of End of an Era , visit Sawyer’s webpage - you can also order signed copies there, at no extra cost. There are also several other resources there, including a A Discussion of the Book’s Opening Line and a Reading Group guide. And of course, Amazon.com and Amazon.ca both carry End of an Era as well.


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