"I took a survey at the end of my Religion in Science Fiction course
for 'favorite novel' and your
Calculating God won out over titles like
Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch,
A Canticle for Leibowitz and Out of the Silent Planet.
I've just picked up a copy of
Flashforward and plan to use that next
time I teach very good stuff."
Kate S. Kelley, Visiting Instructor
Department of Religious Studies
University of Missouri
"I've used Robert J. Sawyer
novels in teaching undergraduate
courses on science fiction and the history of science and
religion since 1994 and they've proved to be among the most
popular and effective texts in my reading lists. Books such as Factoring Humanity,
The Terminal Experiment,
offer students well-realized worlds, provocative ideas,
compelling plots, and interesting characters.
"My students not only have learned to appreciate modern
sf-as-literature from Sawyer's books; they have also stimulated
some really exceptional classroom discussions, as the students
grapple with the important social, scientific, moral, and
religious issues that his stories raise.
"My students come from a wide variety of ethnic, cultural,
linguistic, and religious backgrounds, and they come from across
the arts and science spectrum: astronomy, biology, psychology,
computer science, history, environmental, film, and women's
studies. All respond positively to Sawyer's books.
"I've discussed Sawyer's work at academic conferences, and been
pleasantly surprised at the interest his novels attract. Rob
Sawyer's novels are a permanent feature of my courses, and I've now
added Mindscan into the mix."
Paul Fayter, Ph.D.
Historian of Science and Religion
"I taught Robert J. Sawyer's
Frameshift and found it stimulated
lively discussion around contemporary sf and hard science:
chemistry, biology, and genetic research. My students were
stimulated by the ethical and social issues raised by Sawyer's
questions of genetic testing, determination, and discrimination.
"Sawyer's website at
provides essays, links and reading questions, also focuses
attention on the science issues in this sf thriller."
Nancy Johnston, Ph.D.
Department of English
"I use Calculating God
when teaching evolution to university-bound grade-12
students. It is the first time in their high-school career
they have read science fiction. I happen to teach at a
Catholic school so it gives the added dimension
of relating religion and science.
"My students most of whom are not avid readers
really enjoy the book. In the last three years I can only
think of a handful of students who did not enjoy
it. Some have asked for the names of other books by
you as they are so intrigued by your writing, and
science fiction as a genre.
"I thank you for writing a book that I can use to challenge my
students on the science, religion and philosophy
front all at the same time."
Ascension of Our Lord Secondary School
"Fast-paced, well-researched and imaginatively conceived,
is the most captivating work of
science fiction I've read since I last picked up a book by
Carl Sagan. Although SF is often marginalized in academic
circles, I plan to add it to my literature students' reading list
as soon as it appears in paperback.
Department of English
Thompson River University
Kamloops, British Columbia
- Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale
- Robertson Davies's Fifth Business
- Margaret Laurence's The Fire-Dwellers
- Hugh MacLennan's The Watch That Ends the Night
- Robert J. Sawyer's Starplex
- Sheila Watson's The Double Hook
Modern Canadian Literature (ENG 4357R)
Patricia Monk, Ph.D.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
"Factoring Humanity was the best
novel we read all year."
Jennifer Infuso, student,
"Informal advice by sf teachers in my English Department to
instructors offering our sf-fantasy course for the first time
points to Robert J. Sawyer's work as new, interesting, and most
teachable. By merging science and literature, his hard sf appeals
to both English students and those from other disciplines who
take sf as a breadth course and for enjoyment."
Ian Lancashire, Ph.D.
Department of English
University of Toronto
"Sawyer's books captured the attention of my philosophy students.
The Terminal Experiment displays a
wonderful philosophical finesse in portraying the different ways
in which mind might be instantiated. It was a wonderful
illustration of many of the distinctions made by Locke and
provided me as a professor with a great model for classic
philosophical theories about mind.
"Meanwhile, Starplex provided a
nifty approach for discussing problems arising in the Philosophy
of Language which deal with communication beyond the limits of a
given language group. The care Sawyer spent in speculating about
the way his aliens and humans came to communicate motivated my
students to take much more seriously the philosophers who write
about such issues.
"And rather than exhausting themselves in trying to drum up
student interest in contemporary problems in morality, professors
should adopt as a supplemental text a work like Sawyer's Frameshift. It raises so many
interesting problems in ethics and bio-ethics and it does so
with all the suspense of a first-class thriller."
Joseph Novak, Ph.D.
Department of Philosophy
University of Waterloo
- Isaac Asimov's "The Ugly Little Boy"
- Jean M. Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear
- William Golding's The Inheritors
- Bjorn Kurten's Dance of the Tiger
- Roy Lewis's Evolution Man
- Robert J. Sawyer's Hominids
- H.G. Wells's "The Grisly Folk"
Out of the Cave: Prehistory in Fact and Fiction
Susan Foster McCarter, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins University
"By far, students in my Introduction to Literature course enjoyed
Robert J. Sawyer's
The Terminal Experiment the best
and it prompted some of the most interesting moments of the
"I am now incorporating The Terminal Experiment in
a composition course because it is so popular among students
(their course evaluations said everything from `great read' to `I
recommend it for future use') and because it raises a number of
ethical/moral questions about future technological advances that
are ripe for discussion."
Sean McDowell, Ph.D.
Department of English
"As a teacher of Gifted and Talented students (grades 6 through
12), I have found Robert J. Sawyer's novels to be invaluable to
my curriculum. His well-crafted plots weave together both
characters and themes to produce books which inspire very
rewarding and passionate classroom discussions. But the real
attraction for the students is Mr. Sawyer's ability to tell a
cracking good story. My students have devoured everything he has
written and anxiously await his next offering. It is without
reservation that I highly recommend the use of Robert J. Sawyer's
titles in your classroom."
Canandaigua Middle School
Canandaigua, New York
"In the class I am taking, we are reading your brilliant novel
Hominids and writing on the various
social themes you have so realistically incorporated. I honestly did
not read science fiction prior to this; now I am excited to read more."
Jackie Nelson, student
Lexington Community College
"Starplex is a complex hard-science
novel by a Canadian amateur astronomer with intriguing ideas
about the nature of dark matter and even dark-matter life forms.
It includes more cosmological concepts than any novel we have
Andrew Fraknoi, Ph.D.
Department of Astronomy
Los Altos, California
"In physics, real-world problems are easy to come by, but what
can you do for an upper-level astronomy course called `Galactic
Structure and Cosmology?' Starplex
does the job well: the backdrop for Sawyer's novel spans my whole
"A standard textbook question might be, `Calculate the luminosity
function of a spiral arm, given an age of 108 years, and a
Salpeter initial mass function.' But you can just as easily ask
`Describe the stars seen by the crew of Starplex on page
37 when they emerge from a wormhole.' It's the same question, but
now the imaginative part is up to the student. A student who can
answer the first question has read the textbook. A student who
can answer the second question really understands it."
David DeGraff, Ph.D.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
"I found Starplex incredibly
thought provoking. My major and passion is Canadian history, and
I'm elated to see that a book containing much Canadian content
has had such world-wide acclaim."
Kirk N. R. Graham
English/History double-major student
Rob is one of only seven writers in history to win all three of
the science-fiction field's top honors for best novel of the year:
Rob has lectured on SF from Halifax to Los Angeles, from Tokyo
to Barcelona, and at the Library of Congress, and he has taught at
the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Humber College,
the Banff Centre, and St. Anslem College.