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Creator / Robert J. Sawyer

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Robert James Sawyer CM (born April 29, 1960) is a Canadian Science Fiction author. His novels mainly deal with the conflict between science and mysticism/religion.

His works include:

  • Golden Fleece
  • The Quintaglio Ascension trilogy
  • End of an Era
  • The Terminal Experiment
  • Starplex
  • Frameshift
  • Illegal Alien
  • Factoring Humanity
  • Flashforward (which spawned a television series)
  • Calculating God
  • Iterations (collection of short stories)
  • The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy
  • Relativity (collection of short stories)
  • Mindscan
  • Rollback
  • Identity Theft and Other Stories (collection of short stories)
  • The WWW trilogy
  • Triggers
  • Red Planet Blues
  • Quantum Night
  • The Oppenheimer Alternative

Tropes in Robert J. Sawyer's works include:

  • Ad Hominem: In Quantum Night the main character is called as an expert in a capital murder case by the defense, testifying the defendant was a psychopath and couldn't help killing the victim. The prosecutor first uses his views favoring abortion and euthanasia to paint him poorly before the Southern jury, then the fact his grandfather was himself a war criminal, claiming he's inherited psychopathic traits and defends them because of it.
  • Aesoptinum: Sawyer has written several books that feature a technological loss of privacy as then leading to a better society.
    • His Neanderthal Parallax trilogy features a society in which everyone wears a gadget that records everything they do 24/7, storing it in an archive that can only be accessed by the person in question, or by the authorities if they have sufficient cause. Another book features plans sent by aliens. The plans are for a new gadget that lets people read each others minds without limit, and it is strongly implied that this will lead to utopia.
    • His book Triggers has humanity becoming a hive mind with the same effect-this is shown explicitly as utopian.
    • One short story also has a future Earth that has become an anarchic utopia by means of similar technology as The Neanderthal Parallax features, since a government isn't needed anymore with everyone under knowing and voluntary sousveillance.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Terminal Experiment provides an interesting example in that the AI in question started out as human. The protagonist is a scientist who's trying to test his theories of the soul using his friend's brain-scanning technology. They scan a copy of all the linkages in his brain into a computer database and make three versions-one is unaltered from the original as a control, the second has all linkages relating to the body removed as a simulation of life after death, and the third has all linkages relating to knowledge of death and dying removed as a simulation of immortality. Eventually the consciousnesses break out into the electronic world at large. Then people negatively involved with the protagonist's life start winding up dead. Now the protagonist has to figure out which version of himself is capable of killing other human beings. It was the unaltered version that was a straight copy of his own brain. It knew it was a copy and decided since it could get away with the murders it would go right ahead.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Many of his books either are set in Canada, or have Canadian characters. He's stated it's to make up for the lack of them in science fiction novels. Often they're in Toronto, Ontario or nearby, which is his hometown.
  • The Atoner: Kayla in Quantum Night is studying psychopathy because she used to be a psychopath.
  • Author Tract: It becomes pretty obvious what Sawyer thinks about various issues across his novels (e.g. atheism, religion), and this even extends to his pet peeves, such as how January 1, 2000 wasn't the real new millennium given that there was no year zero — rather, it's January 1, 2001. Quantum Night seems pretty heavy-handed against the US right wing too. It's hard to imagine even the most hardline Republican in the US ever invading Canada or abolishing illegal aliens' human rights.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid:
    • Discussed and averted by Sarkar in The Terminal Experiment. He calls out Peter on multiple occasions for assuming that he must believe in pseudoscience like near-death experiences and creationism because he is a religious Muslim. At one point he even says "Just because I'm religious does not mean I am an idiot."
    • Zigzagged in Calculating God. The antagonists are Christian terrorists and strict creationists bent on vandalizing the Burgess Shall display because in their minds it's use as strong evidence for evolution must mean it's a hoax. Both are dogmatic and none too bright. On the other hand, the aliens are perfectly intelligent, believing in God based on empirical evidence (without anything irrational like saying that evolution is a lie).
    • Also avoided in The Neanderthal Parallax where Mary and Louise are Catholics but competent scientists too, with the intelligence you would expect. While the book ultimately portrays religion as false it doesn't claim they're fools for having believed in Catholicism.
  • Big Brother Is Watching You: Presented as a good thing in The Neanderthal Parallax and the WWW Trilogy. Sawyer also believes this in Real Life. It should be mentioned though that in the Neanderthal Parallax, the watching is done automatically; an individual's implanted Companion computer records everything he or she does, sending that recording to a storage facility where only you can access your records, or the authorities if a judge orders it after you've been accused of a crime.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Sawyer is known for making his aliens truly alien. Tosoks in Illegal Alien have a different bodily structure from most Earth beings, with radial symmetry, for instance-they have one arm at the back. Plus their females have four uteruses, and usually are impregnated by an equal number of males in turn. It's thus much more common to have half siblings. Calculating God also has two different alien species which have entirely dissimilar bodies from ours.
  • Bizarre Alien Psychology: In Illegal Alien, the Tosok race has no sense of privacy in regards to sexual matters, since with them this usually involves group sex (four males impregnating one female). Their internal anatomy, however, is viewed as sacred and not to be discussed in public except when absolutely necessary. Also, they don't have a concept of “right” in terms of morals, believing all things are predestined. One character speculates this is due to the fact they don't have right and left sides to their anatomy, but three, with one (an arm in the back) being inherently strongest. They therefore have no concept of crime, although dangerous people are restrained. In his The Neanderthal Parallax books, the Neanderthals are incapable of religious and mystical beliefs due to having a different brain structure. Calculating God features a species of aliens unable to do any math aside from the most simple arithmetic, but have no difficulty answering difficult moral questions that baffle others.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: The Tosoks in Illegal Alien have females with four wombs, so that group sex is the norm for them, with four males impregnating each. Half-siblings are thus also far more common as a result of it. Occasionally though one male inseminates all four of a female's wombs. Their term for God possibly even reflects that-one human, learning this, reflects how they thought the Tosoks were saying "Foremother" but it may have really been "Fourmother".
  • Black Humor: Sim!Sandra's last words in The Terminal Experiment as she shuts down the power grid, disabling both her (temporarily) and the murderous Control Sim (permanently) in the process, are "think of me as a Circuit Court Judge."
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Caused a disastrous Noodle Incident at a Christmas Party in Flash Forward
  • Brain Uploading:
    • The premise of Red Planet Blues, Mindscan and to a lesser extent The Terminal Experiment.
    • Interestingly, although In-Universe, the technology is presented as a perfectly normal thing with no ethical concerns (at least by most characters), a deeper reading may give the exact opposite interpretation, as it's implied in some stories that they kill the original after the transfer has occurred.
    • See also Villain Has a Point below, as the main opponents of the technique in the two novels tend to do some pretty nasty things.
  • Canada, Eh?: Notably averted in his novels, which are often set in Canada and/or feature Canadians, as Sawyer himself is a Canadian who knows better (although some of the stereotypes are brought up, usually by American characters).
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Toronto Blue Jays baseball bat in Quantum Night. Jim even refers to it as such shortly before using it to assault Menno and murder Dominic.
  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: In Rollback, Coca-Cola and Pepsi merged at some point in the mid-21st century. The protagonist is delighted he never has to hear a waiter apologetically ask "Is Pepsi okay?" ever again.
  • Deus ex Machina: This happens literally in Calculating God when near the end God appears to save the three known species from destruction by a supernova.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Mindscan features a technology for copying a human personality into immortal android bodies. The elderly and people suffering from terminal illnesses undergo this process, being replaced with the copy before leaving for an extralegal moon base to live out their last days in luxurious retirement. However when one is sued by her son to get her property, claiming she's legally "dead" and another of the recipients finds that a cure has just been discovered for his condition and wants to take his old life back from his copy, the legal rights and personhood of the android duplicates is brought into question.
  • Doomsday Device: In The Oppenheimer Alternative, Oppie comes across a list of proposed nuclear devices, each listing its power and proposed means of detonation. The location for the final one is simply listed as "Backyard", to which Oppie has a moment of Fridge Horror when he realizes the device would destroy the entire world, so there would be no need to transport it before using it.
  • False Rape Accusation: Both played straight and thoroughly subverted in Factoring Humanity. The main character is accused of molesting his daughter, and he is known to the reader (but not the other characters) to be innocent. A major plotline involves him striking up a friendship with a teacher who was accused but later cleared of having sexually harassed one of his students. They discuss how the allegations have affected them and the older peer comforts the main character. Near the end of the story though the older peer admits that he actually did it.
  • Fantastic Legal Weirdness: In Mind Scan, there's a trial over whether or not a character who uploaded her mind to an android body can still be considered the same person, or legally dead, with her property then going to her son. Illegal Alien involves a milder example, with an alien charged in the murder of a human.
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness: One religious Muslim candidate for the space mission in Golden Fleece declines to make the trip, since he would need to pray five times per Earth day, which amounted to up to 120 times per ship day due to the effects of relativity. On the bright side, the Ramadan fast would only last a day or so rather than a whole month, but that was not enough to convince him. However, 1,349 other Muslims who did come seemed to find a way around these issues.
  • Final Solution: In Illegal Alien it turns out that the Tosoks plan to exterminate humanity (aside from a couple who sabotage this), and they had done so already to other species. Those who survived defeated the Tosoks, and at the end of the novel plan on having something like the Nuremberg Trials for trying the surviving perpetrators for genocide.
  • First-Contact Math: This fails in Calculating God. Transmissions to Delta Pavonis go unnoticed by the native aliens, because they have a brain structure that makes them incapable of doing math.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Lampshaded in Starplex. The human characters do this all the time, but the aliens frequently point out how annoying this is - apparently their languages never had such a concept. One alien character even refuses to call the ship's computer PHANTOM because that too is an acronym. The aliens really draw the line at acronyms within acronyms, such as an attempt to name the mobile waste collection machines PHART, short for "PHANTOM ambulatory remote toilet."
  • Godwin's Law: Invoked, discussed, and arguably justified in Quantum Night. The main character compares the mass killing of Latinos in the Southern and Southwestern United States to the Holocaust. After his colleague immediately claims he has lost the argument, he complains that Godwin implied the Holocaust was a unique event and nothing of its magnitude could ever happen again, when in fact it is happening again in the story, only with Latinos instead of Jews. The coiner of the term himself has said comparisons like this (i.e. modern mass murders with the Holocaust) are appropriate, however. It's just when an opponent is compared with the Nazis over anything that the law actually applies.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Discussed in The Terminal Experiment and Mind Scan. The former has proof of the human soul weigh into the debate (especially given it happens after abortion's allowed in the US). In the latter, Roe vs. Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court. Characters who have had abortions in these novels are sympathetic.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: A rare In-Universe example in Triggers. After the White House is destroyed by terrorists, one of the characters wonders what will happen to an Expy of The West Wing, considering it's set there. It continues filming, at least for the time being, a fact which is critical to the plot.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Averted in Starplex when one of the aliens aboard the spaceship suggests naming the newly-discovered dark matter creatures "darkies", but is quickly shot down by the humans.
  • Hive Mind: The end of Triggers features humans' evolving into one due to accidental Mental Fusion, which in a subversion is presented as Earth becoming a utopia.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Sawyer is a self-described atheist who's averted this trope in his works, exloring the issues of atheism vs. theism with a lot of nuance.
    • The protagonist of Calculating God is an atheist scientist who's skeptical when an alien species who visit Earth say they have empirical evidence that God exists, but he accepts this after being able to assess the facts. He's a nice, ordinary man.
    • Discussed in Triggers, where the US President is a closet atheist. Following numerous terrorist attacks by fanatical Muslims in the US, culminating with his own near-assassination, he decides to destroy Pakistan with nuclear missiles for harboring terrorists. An old woman finds out about his nonbelief and this plan, trying to convince him that doing so will not only cause him to be viewed as a monster, but later people would say no one but an atheist could have ever done such a terrible thing (he had planned to admit his atheism after leaving the White House).
    • Also averted by Caitlin and her dad in WWW Trilogy. Both are simply nice, ordinary people. Caitlin's best friend is a Muslim, whose beliefs she's respectful of.
  • Hollywood Law: Mind Scan has two examples. The probate case in the book is tried by a jury, something judges alone rule on. It's also mentioned that the case which led to Roe vs. Wade being overturned, in which a man sued to get his girlfriend enjoined from having an abortion, was also decided by a jury. This would be done by a judge on their own, as it's a matter of law, not fact.
  • Humans Are White: Sawyer makes a specific point to avert this in his work, and explains that it's why he specifies even white characters' race, so readers are clear about it.
  • If Jesus, Then Aliens: Sawyer plays with this trope extensively in Calculating God. Thomas remains stubbornly atheist while several species of alien try to convince him that not only does God exist, but the math proves it.
  • Informed Attribute: The Wreeds in Calculating God supposedly evolved brain structures that are incapable of comprehending numbers larger than 46, but to whom the solutions to ethical quandaries that vex humans are as obvious and self-evident as simple arithmetic are to us. When they're asked to actually answer our ethical quandaries, however, they're unable to, just as there's no way to explain mathematical truths in a way they're capable of understanding, so we never get to hear their insights.
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: On the opposite end of the scale, we have Robert J. Sawyer's novel Illegal Alien, in which one of the first aliens to visit the Earth is arrested and put on trial on suspicion of murdering a human. The aliens are quite obviously more technologically advanced than humanity, and could very well wipe out the entire planet if they decided to, so only the most radical humans oppose giving the suspect a fair trial. That said, there is some argument over whether an alien can be considered "sane" by human standards, and several times it's brought up that most people think of the aliens as interchangeable and identical rather than varied individuals. That being said, it's also made clear, at least by some, that the alien's rights aren't greater than those of humans. A Black reverend and civil rights activist (think Al Sharpton) confronts the Los Angeles District Attorney to point out he would have sought the death penalty against a Black man had he killed the (white) victim under similar circumstances, and he'd better not be seen as giving more value to an alien's life than a Black human's. It is eventually revealed that most of the aliens do not regard humans as having any rights, and planned to destroy us as a potential threat, which the alien suspect foiled.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: Sawyer is the Trope Namer for this.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.:
    • The short story "The Hand You're Dealt" is about a case of murder on a habitat that has no government, only private services. The protagonist is a detective with a private police company called The Cop Shop. There are apparently multiple such businesses-"Spitpolish, Inc" is mentioned as a competitor that has uniformed cops, which his doesn't.
      I took my pocket forensic scanner and exited The Cop Shop. That was its real name-no taxes in Mendelia, after all. You needed a cop, you hired one.
    • "The Right's Tough" features astronauts that come back to Earth after over a hundred years absence to find it has become stateless. Houston no longer features a space center, so they are invited to land on the White House lawn-which has become an upscale restaurant and museum. Among its features are private police (one of the astronauts tries to rape a woman, but she has a device which immediately calls the police she's contracted with, who stop it).
  • Lightspeed Leapfrog: "On the Shoulders of Giants" would more accurately be called "relativistic leapfrog", since no FTL travel occurs, but the effect is the same. The colonists arrive in a sleeper ship at about 1% of the speed of light, and find out their intended planet is already colonized and thriving. Fortunately, they manage to convince the colony to give them a relativistic ship to carry sleepers to head for the Andromeda galaxy.
  • Meaningful Name: Thomas Jericho in Calculating God, who doubts the aliens' claims of God's existence and demands evidence. That same novel features a New Earth Creationist terrorist named Cooter Falsey who attempts to destroy evidence of evolution for contradicting his worldview.
  • Mercy Kill: At the end of Calculating God, euthanasia is given to relieve pain for the terminal main character.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The orangutan joke in Quantum Night
    • Several future "historical" events mentioned in the novels fit this trope
      • In the epilogue of Frameshift, set 13 years after the conclusion of the main portion, the USA is said to have 51 states. This has absolutely no bearing on the plot, and what state was added is never mentioned.
      • Some event known as the Month of Terror is said to have occurred at some point between when Rollback was written in 2007 and when it is set in 2048. One character who is in her mid-40s in 2067 mentions it happening before she was born but beyond that, we don't know what it was or when, though with a name like that, it couldn't have been good.
      • For some reason, Colombia has an odd tendency to get involved in horrible wars, at least some of which go nuclear, in the Future Past of the Sawyer-verse.
      • An odd Subversion in Flashforward where many of the incidents seen in the visions would certainly qualify, except that there's no indication if they ever came to pass. Most notably, Donald Trump is said to be building a pyramid in the middle of the Nevada desert to house his remains which would be ten meters taller than the Pyramid of Giza. Given what happened to Trump in Real Life in the time gap spanned by the visions, this is either Hilarious in Hindsight, Harsher in Hindsight, or quite possibly a bit of both, depending on your perspective.
  • Not Actually the Ultimate Question: A Running Gag in one chapter of Rollback features Don and Sarah going out to a fancy restaurant while discussing whether to go through with the titular procedure. A waiter repeatedly asks them if they've decided yet, and they repeatedly tell him they haven't, with their responses hinting that they're referring to the decision on whether to go through with the rollback rather than their lunch orders the waiter is presumably asking for. Eventually, the two of them agree to go through with it and tell the waiter they've made their decision, only to realize they don't actually know what they want to eat yet.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions:
    • Subverted with the Neanderthals in The Neanderthal Parallax books, who never had a concept of an afterlife or gods to begin with due to different brain structures (though played straight with the finale of the trilogy, when a magnetic pole reversal affects humans' minds by first stimulating then later eliminating paranormal, mystical or religious beliefs. With them gone, peace breaks out in the Middle East, among other improvements).
    • It's also inverted with the aliens in Calculating God who are more technologically advanced than humanity but firmly believe in a creator on the basis of scientific evidence. It's the atheist human protagonist who slowly has to adjust and accept it.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: End Of An Era features time travelers who pop into the end of the Cretaceous to discover that Earth's gravity was purposefully modified by Martians in order to breed biological war machines (aka dinosaurs) against a fifth planet in the Solar System orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. In the end, the scientists cause the KT Extinction Event by turning off the anti-gravity generators, simultaneously killing off both the dinosaurs and the Martians. Essentially, phlebotinum created the dinosaurs. Taking it away killed them.
  • Portal Network: Starplex features a network of portal points spanning the entire universe. All the points begin dormant but come online whenever something touches them. Sometimes they're opened by random debris, but most are activated deliberately by advanced civilizations. The points are only detectable using subspace technology, which means no race can activate its point and join the galactic community until it reaches the technical level of at least basic FTL. It actually turns out that the points are time portals, created by engineers from the future so they could visit the past. The fact that they're spatially connected, facilitating galactic commerce and infrastructure, is really just a side effect.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: Taken up to eleven in Quantum Night where riots in Winnipeg over the Jets losing the Stanley Cup Finals escalate into a lengthy series of riots across Canada and eventually parts of the US. This spurs a psychopathic US President, already miffed that Canada elected a Muslim PM, to invade and annex the country. Russia then sends troops to "liberate" the Canadians, and the world comes within a hair's breadth of nuclear war.
  • Religion Is Right: Though an atheist himself who has shown atheism and religious skepticism positively, Sawyer also portrays religion as being true in some of his books. In The Terminal Experiment, scientific proof of the soul is found, uniting with God at death. Calculating God shows the universe was created, but not much about God.
  • Religion Is Wrong:
    • The Neanderthal Parallax reveals that religion (and mystical beliefs generally) is simply the result of magnetic rays affecting people's brains. After the magnetic field around earth reverses polarity, these beliefs at first flare up, and then disappear, causing improvements like peace in the Middle East.
    • Afsan proves the object called the Face of God is really the planet which the Quintaglio's world (a moon) orbits. Toroca later also shows that the idea of Quintaglios being directly created by God is wrong too, as he discovers evolution..
  • Sapient Cetaceans: In Starplex, humanity has learned to communicate with dolphins at some point in the 21st century and they later become one of the four member races of the Commonwealth of Planets. The funny thing is that, before communication was established the dolphins themselves didn't even suspect that humans could be sapient. They thought boats were some kind of animal which humans rode on as parasites, and that human cloth and technology represented something akin to a mollusk's shell.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: Implied in Sawyer's first work ever, a short story published in The Village Voice.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Sawyer is a huge fan of Planet of the Apes and Star Trek, among other titles, and frequently references them in his work.
    • Apparently, several of Sawyer's novels exist In-Universe in other novels. For instance, in Triggers, one character quotes Calculating God, while in The Neanderthal Parallax, one character recalls reading a serialized version of Illegal Alien and notes how the situation there is different than what is going on at that moment. In Quantum Night, a story about a biomedical engineer finding scientific proof of the human soul is mentioned-i.e. the plot of his book The Terminal Experiment.
    • Attorney Dale Rice from Illegal Alien apparently has his own spinoff TV show in the Flashforward novel, or at least he did until the lead actor was killed in the titular incident. The final chapter of that novel references Frameshift.
    • He also seems fond of working in references to the Flashforward TV show.
  • The Social Darwinist: The Tosoks justify their genocidal actions this way, saying that if they aren't divine creations and with their periodic hybernations leaving them vulnerable to sneak attacks, it is simply "survival of the fittest" to attack and kill other species preemptively (with the exception of the faction that Hask and Seltar are from, who try to stop it).
  • Stay with the Aliens: In Calculating God the aliens take the main character, who happens to be dying of cancer, with them.
  • Straw Character:
    • Jock, a very conservative former consultant with the RAND Institute in The Neanderthal Parallax, goes from expressing skepticism over the Neanderthals to attempting their genocide.
    • Meanwhile in Quantum Night, we have a right-wing US President who's quite Islamophobic, turns out to be a psychopath, and eventually invades Canada. Not to mention a Texas governor who passed a law removing all legal rights for illegal aliens (which is actually ridiculously unconstitutional), sparking their mass murders. That, plus the Georgia jury who believe in capital punishment and (even if not everyone agrees on that) reacts in understandable horror after learning the main character (called by the defense to show the defendant is a psychopath, thus he couldn't help killing) favors infanticide for disabled babies.
    • In Calculating God, we have two anti-abortion, creationist fundamentalist Christian terrorists who try to destroy the Burgess Shale for its conflict with their literalist view of the Bible after the pair bomb an abortion clinic. They die in a shootout with the police inside the museum where it's held, after damaging the priceless fossil greatly using an automatic weapon.
  • Take That!: From Calculating God, Hollus and Thomas are discussing TV programs about aliens.
    Hollus: We have been watching your TV programs for about a year now. But I suspect you have more interesting material than what I have seen.
    Thomas: What have you seen?
    Hollus: A show about an academic and his family who are extraterrestrials.
    Thomas: That's 3rd Rock from the Sun. It's a comedy.
    Hollus: That is a matter of opinion.
    Hollus: More instructive was a graphic-arts production about juvenile humans.
    Thoams: I need another clue.
    Hollus: One of them is named Cartman.
    Thomas: (laughs) South Park. I'm surprised you didn't pack up and go home after that one.
    • According to The Terminal Experiment, comedian Rick Green is a terrible cook. One character says nobody in their right mind would want to replicate Green's culinary techniques.
  • Turing Test: Subverted in the WWW Trilogy, where an AI emergent from mutant web packets with a damaged time-to-life counter is proven to be intelligent on account of how it fails the Turing test. This proved that it/he actually was an AI rather than a human with a really good internet connection who was up to something. The AI in The Terminal Experiment, Mindscan and Red Planet Blues pass automatically, since they are copies of human minds.
  • Villain Has a Point: Willem Van Dyke (in Red Planet Blues) and Original!Jacob (in Mindscan) both use violent and illegal tactics to get what they want, but some readers may feel they have a point in their opposition to Brain Uploading on ethical grounds. It's not viewed that way In-Universe, though. This is true of Tyler as well, though at least he uses the legal system to fight the upload version of his mother for her estate rather than criminal violence.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In Red Planet Blues and Mindscan the claim is made that humans who upload their minds into android bodies are not people afterward, on the belief they have no souls, which in Mindscan is answered by asking "How do you know they don't have them?" Red Planet Blues just treats this as a quaint religious idea that most people don't bother with. A deeper reading leads some readers to think the Strawman Has a Point, however, even if most of the characters disagree.