Rollback Novel by Robert J. Sawyer 317 pp TOR
Something momentous has occurred. Sigma Draconis has sent Humanity a message.
A message in code.
Sarah Halifax is a research scientist and one of many asked to help decode the mysterious message.
Little hope is held out for the message to be decoded any time soon. But connections are made and the first communique is decoded and answered.
A multi billionaire wants in on the action that he knows will happen 28 years in the future. He wants to guarantee some of the people that were here for the first message are also there for the second. He offers Sarah RollBack, which will bring back her youth and thus guarantee that she will be available to decode the second message and many more. The kicker is that Sarah must have Don by her side in this adventure, its either that or no dice. Reluctant, the benefactor agrees but the procedure goes horribly wrong and now its a rush between death and decoding the Dracon's newest message.
I will admit that I had a hard time getting comfortable with Rollback. Why? Well, I guess the
rollback issue. I know that is wrong headed. But here we have been built up to an excited pitch with not one but two mysterious messages. For me I wanted to know about Sarah! How she felt, was there enough time....could she hold out? Would she be finally able to decode the second message. That isn't in the book, you say? Oh yes, it certainly is, however as the book is about “Rollback” we are treated heavily to Don's angst for being young, his embarrassment for being old....and his guilt for what seemed to be inevitable infidelity. I am sorry, Don could have been left out of this novel completely and it would have suffered not. Don was not a person I felt that I liked, did not for a moment agree with his choices and frankly never bought into his conflicts. Yes, I know, he was put in a very difficult position, one not of his choosing....but old, he has moral back bone and young he can't resist temptation? How droll. I suspect the writer felt the same implosion happening, but what is added? A robot! And it develops more moral fiber than Don in just a page or two? Please....!
Rollback as a story about an old man forced into a young society fails. However the robot manages to pull the two separate story halves together. Because in the end there is a joyous coming together, a tearful parting, ultimate triumph, happiness and great joy. I loved the ending of this book, but when the robot is the moral high-ground....something is wrong. I would give this book a marginal read recommendation. At 317 pages, it still is a very fast read. It starts well. The ending is a bit sophomoric, over all, it is entertaining. So I suggest you get a bigger cup of tea than usual, relax and don't fight the urges to flip ahead a bit.
On a scale of 1 to 5 Rollback is a 3.5