A new mind-bending novel from Canada’s leading futurist
On the eve of a secret military operation, an assassin’s bullet strikes U.S. President Seth Jerrison. He is rushed to hospital, where surgeons struggle to save his life. At the same hospital, Canadian researcher Dr. Ranjip Singh is experimenting with a device that can erase traumatic memories. Then a terrorist bomb detonates. In the operating room, the president suffers cardiac arrest. He has a near-death experience—but the memories that flash through Jerrison’s mind are not his memories.
It quickly becomes clear that the electromagnetic pulse generated by the bomb amplified and scrambled Dr. Singh’s equipment, allowing a random group of people to access one another’s minds. And now one of those people has access to the president’s memories—including classified information regarding an upcoming military mission, which, if revealed, could cost countless lives. But the task of determining who has switched memories with whom is a daunting one, particularly when some of the people involved have reasons to lie ...
I have to put some cards on the table up front: not only do I know Rob Sawyer, not only do I like Rob Sawyer, not only do I bring up the fact that I know and like Rob Sawyer at every opportunity; on top of that, one of the characters in Triggers, Eric Redekop, shares my last name. No mere coincidence this, as Rob confirmed via Facebook that he thought my last name was "cool." This FB message has thereby been printed out and framed, verifiable proof that someone likes the damnable moniker. And this also means that, likely for the first time ever, a Mennonite headlines a sci-fi novel, with the possible exception of Robert A. Heinlein's The Froeses of Mars.
So take this review with salt and imitation buttered popcorn, if you must; Triggers is a lot of fun. Sawyer has never been the greatest of prose stylists, but his enthusiasm for his topics, his hearty dollops of research, and his genuine upbeat attitude (an increasing rarity in science fiction) make the best of his work a pleasure to read (particularly his short stories: I cannot recommend Iterations or Identity Theft highly enough). Triggers, like most of Sawyer's work, sets its narrative around an immensely intriguing hook, and his plot machinations concerning selective telepathic powers keep the pages flying by. It isn't the deepest of reads, and part of me wishes he went further with his ultimate finale, when the plot ventures into Theodore Sturgeon territory (I won't be divulging this ending here, however; unlike a certain reviewer in the Globe and Mail, I try not to give away the ending whether or not I liked the book). I am unsure whether Triggers qualifies as Sawyer's most fanciful work, as the science behind his scenario sounds fairly wonky to the layperson in me, but that hardly counts as a disqualification. Triggers is fast and fun, with just enough inherent plausibility to the shenanigans to keep me glued to my seat.
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