Following on from The Neanderthal Parallax, I picked up a slightly older (1998), standalone novel by Robert J. Sawyer called Factoring Humanity from the library. While it’s a decent read and not particularly outdated by the passage of time, I’m glad this is not part of a trilogy because it barely deserves to be a single full-length book. Too much of the story focuses on soap opera-ish social interaction which end up being a platform for Sawyer’s SF speculations and then there’s just a bunch of plot recap, story points that drift off into the ether, and dodgy interior monologues.
Think Clarke’s Childhood’s End, the quantum computing that Sawyer would reuse in Neanderthal Parallax and a tepid evil corporate espionage subplot plus a semi-dramatic parent-child conflict and you’ll have the gist. Economics, of course, are a key consideration and this hardcover edition’s About the Author end note opens with the line “Robert J. Sawyer is Canada’s only native-born full-time science fiction writer.” I’m sure in the seven years since there are a few more native-born full-time Canadian science fiction writers but even so one doesn’t get to that status by writing short stories and novellas, there aren’t close to enough cash paying magazines and anthologies, but I don’t have to be happy about reading financially stretched stories.