Cover to Cover #250: Robert J. Sawyer

RollbackIsn't it funny when the show begins before everyone's all settled in? Michael Stackpole is close to making his deadline, and that leads to a discussion about publishing schedules and marketing techniques for books and authors. We also start talking about word-of-mouth networking for book recommendations... wonder how that would work in the long haul?

Interview: Robert J. Sawyer joins Michael, Summer and Michael to talk about Rollback, the full novelization of the serialization that appeared in Analog throughout 2006. He tells us about his affection for serializations and his habit of collecting top genre awards, and gives us the rundown on the storyline and characters in Rollback, and a quick snippet on his next trilogy project.

Also, Rob tells us about the Canadian SF hit TV series "Charlie Jade", and we spend some time talking about the best show that isn't airing on American TV, and about the fast pace of writing for television.

You can see more about Rob and his works at

The Library: Have you ever broken a floor with a bookshelf that was way to heavy? We have. New and not-so-new entries include The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan, The Shadowmancer's Return by J. P. Taylor, The White Tyger by Paul Park, Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber.

Voicemail: Will the Computer Guy comments on Shows #244/245, and he loves the new show format and the occassional focus on writing, but also wants some suggestions on how to plan a novel.

Do you have any questions about writing? Call us and ask!

What are your thoughts about "Cover to Cover" expanding book and author coverage beyond SF, fantasy and horror? Comment here, email us, or call in and leave a voicemail.

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Promo: Technorama


  1. Lou Sytsma(Sit sma) says

    Always great to hear Robert J Sawyer on your show as he is a consummate professional. I read Rollback via the Analog serialization and it is an excellent book. High concept as discussed yet Rob really dials in the emotional and mental implications of the scenario better than ever.

    An excellent book!

    You guys continue to do a superb job with the new format! Really enjoying the work you are all doing. Thanks!

  2. Another great show and I look forward to hearing the suggestions for the "A plus" books.

  3. The closest thing to what you're talking about in terms of recommendations is Amazon's method. And I think if you were to open the floor for -anybody- to be rating books as 8/10, you'd probably end up with data that looks a lot like Amazon's data. Because some people really don't know a good book when they see one. And some people really enjoy mindless fluff and would rate it highly.

    However, if you guys wanted to basically make your own FarPoint Spotlight site and rate all the books you can think of a la Netflix, you could control your data to people whose opinions you trust. With enough traffic, you could probably get publisher's wanting to quote your star rating, assuming it was high, to put on the back cover.

    Most people want recommendations based on what they like. You're talking about recommendations based on objective quality, where it doesn't matter what books a particular person has read and liked, they should still read X. The challenge, I guess, would be making people care. I mean, how do you get readers and publishers to care what you think? Possibly by giving out "awards" to those books that pass the test. When I worked at a house that was putting out children's books, if we could get anyone to give us any kind of award for quality, that gold label went on the cover and in every bit of marketing we did. And maybe you get readers to care through sheer arrogance, by declaring a weekly or monthly or yearly list of Things Worth Reading and -making- that news just by spreading that list around and acting like it's news.

  4. BTW, I still think you guys should lend out/give away the books that are taking over Michael's house. Or make them rewards for nice donations. Something. There's a whole reading audience out here, there has to be some way to feed books to them that doesn't make you guys go broke.

  5. Lou Sytsma (sit - sma) says

    Good idea, Magess. If people agree to pay for shipping and review the books for posting here it would be a way to get rid of the backlog and give some more visibility to the books being sent to the Dragon Page.

  6. We do have several new book reviewers on board. We just have a bad habit of starting to use them for more than just book reviews 🙂

    I think it's cheaper to either use the review books as "compensation" for the reviewers, or fodder for Bookman's.

    But I like the idea of using them to show appreciation for generous donations... I think we can work with that one, somehow.

    But I still want a Netflix ratings system for books... just for rating them, not for renting or anything.

  7. Robert J Sawyer is really great, always nice to hear about his work. I will be looking forward to buy Rollback.

  8. So you want like how works now? Without needing to pay to join like Librarything, or make a catalogue, or anything like that?

  9. Exactly!

    What I think I'd want, to keep only the serious ones around, would be some sort of accountability setup... I wouldn't want to charge a fee for users, and I'd want to encourage full reviews now and again, maybe 1 formal review for each 10 quick ratings, or something like that.

    People who've rated more books get their ratings weighed more than someone with less than 25 ratings, or something to encourage the dedicated readers and contributors and to keep the influx of fly-by-nighters in check.