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Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer
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I have enjoyed several of Robert J. Sawyer’s science fiction novels, but “Far-Seer” is the first fantasy sci-fi I’ve read of this author.

The back of the book of this particular paperback has spoilers, information on the characters of the book that are not revealed (apparently) until the later books in the trilogy, and I was disappointed by that. Of course I won’t reveal that!


This is Book One of the Quintaglio Ascension. A “Quintaglio” is a species of intelligent dinosaur, genetically related to Tyrannosaurus Rex, that are on a moon orbiting a gas giant.

The gas giant has religious significance on this moon. The people there believe the world is flat, going down a river and that the gas giant is The Face of God. Asfan, apprentice astrologer, makes discoveries of his universe that fly in the face (sorry for the pun) of the scholars and religionists of the day.

Asfan realizes that if he claims there is no God, that the Face of God is just a planet, that he will crash and burn the religion which has kept his kind civilized for many hundreds of years. On the other hand, he needs to if he wants to have an honest heart and tell the truth.

He discovers the truth with the “Far-Seer” (a telescope), notes the movements of the planets and makes his discoveries. Asfan is also a very skilled killer and some of the more gory aspects of the book make for some intense reading.

The truth has costs, however. A faction that considers him “The One” (holy Matrix!) wants to believe Asfan has been prophesized for the final coming of the world. Asfan on the other hand just wants to help people get off the planet!

Bottom Line: We get to know the Quintaglio society, its language, swear words and even partake of some dinosaur sex. The parallels to our own Galileo is purposeful and enjoyable to say the least. The author really blasts adherence to dogma rather than having an open mind, which should open the door to discussion of these topics, especially with young adult readers.

Not sure if I will continue with this trilogy, but this book is a great start. Just don’t read the back of the book! Recommended.

( )
  jmourgos | Sep 12, 2014 |
Dinosaurs in Space! Okay, not really. Its more like Dinosaurs Discover the World is Round! and other stories.

Essentially, we have an intelligent dinosoar society living on the moon. They are, science wise, in the age of telescopes and the beginning of astronomy. When a young saurian named Afsen goes on a pilgrimage to gaze upon the face of God, he doesn't see something holy, but another object in the sky. With this knowledge, he changes his world, possibly saving it from the gravity of the planet his world rotates around that threatens to destroy his home.

My thoughts. I liked it. Where this book excels is how the author creates a truly dinosaur society. It is not human, nor do the characters think human. A lot of thought went into how this society works. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Dec 27, 2011 |
Together with _Fossil Hunter_ (1993) and _Foreigner_ (1994), an early trilogy by the Canadian SF phenom -- something to read while waiting for the third volume of his _Hominids_/_Humans_/_Hybrids_ trilogy.
  fpagan | Dec 19, 2006 |

Far-Seer is the story of a sentient dinosaur race, called Quintaglios. It seems like a "rite of passage" type of book at first: apprentice astronomer Asfar has conflicts with the Master Astronomer, goes on his first hunt, and then on his first pigrimage. But it's actually a much bigger story than that, as what Asfar discovers on his pilgrimage is definite science fiction in the very best traditions of world-building and what-if'ing.

Probably the main criticism I have is towards the beginning, Sawyer doesn't handle the "how are Quintaglios different from me" bits of description. There's a bit of "as you know, Bob" in the descriptions, but it's not too bad, and disappears almost completely by the middle of the book. Unfortunately, there are some things that seem odd. For instance, in a culture of powerful predators, there are strictures against weapons use, and yet the idea of weapons isn't foreign. So where did the idea even come from? If you have teeth and claws-- both of which regenerate quickly-- who would need a dagger in the first place? Who would even think to make one?

My other criticism is that Asfar discovers in a few weeks what took humans about 500 years to learn about the stars. A little... unlikely, I think. Perhaps if Sawyer had had Asfar base a lot of his theories on those written by the astrologers who came before him, it would be more plausible. As it is, though, the explanation in the book is simply that he is "The One," which is just a little too convenient and religious/prophecied for my personal preference in a science fiction novel.

Anyway, I originally bought this book because I intended to write a novel in which sentient dinosaurs take to the stars. I'm glad Sawyer has tread this path before (he also tread the path I was on with my other sci fi novel, which just tells me to keep reading his stuff). I enjoyed the read, and I'll definitely go on to read the sequels, Fossil Hunter and Foreigner. ( )
  mortaine | Sep 19, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441225519, Mass Market Paperback)

In a world where the age of dinosaurs never ended, the young saurian Afsan becomes apprentice to the court astrologer, when he discovers something about the Face of God that will test his faith and may save his world from disaster.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:15 -0400)

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