Rollback

Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rollback opens in 2048 as Don and Sarah Halifax are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Sarah is a retired astrophysicist who had decoded the first alien radio message almost forty years earlier, helped craft humanity’s reply, and now is asked to help figure out the aliens’ second message which for some reason is coded differently than the first message. In order to have more time to work on the message, a billionaire philanthropist agrees to pay for Sarah’s “rollback,” or rejuvenation of body. Sarah won’t do it unless Don is included in the deal, but it turns out that the process doesn’t work on Sarah but does on Don. A large part of the book is an examination of Don’s new life as a physically-fit 25-year-old with the mind of an octogenarian, torn between the love for his wife and his newfound virility. In the meantime, Sarah is in a race to discover the hidden meaning of the second alien message before she dies. Rollback is a journeyman effort by a fan favorite. This is the quintessential Analog story—lots of techno-babble and pseudo-psychology, but a bit short on characterization.

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