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FLASHFORWARD Two minutes and seventeen seconds that changed the world Suddenly, without warning, all seven billion people on Earth black out for more than two minutes. Millions die as planes fall from the sky, people tumble down staircases, and cars plow into each other. But that’s the least of the survivors’ challenges. During the blackout, everyone experienced a glimpse of FLASHFORWARD Two minutes and seventeen seconds that changed the world Suddenly, without warning, all seven billion people on Earth black out for more than two minutes. Millions die as planes fall from the sky, people tumble down staircases, and cars plow into each other. But that’s the least of the survivors’ challenges. During the blackout, everyone experienced a glimpse of what his or her future holds—and the interlocking mosaic of these visions threatens to unravel the present.


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FLASHFORWARD Two minutes and seventeen seconds that changed the world Suddenly, without warning, all seven billion people on Earth black out for more than two minutes. Millions die as planes fall from the sky, people tumble down staircases, and cars plow into each other. But that’s the least of the survivors’ challenges. During the blackout, everyone experienced a glimpse of FLASHFORWARD Two minutes and seventeen seconds that changed the world Suddenly, without warning, all seven billion people on Earth black out for more than two minutes. Millions die as planes fall from the sky, people tumble down staircases, and cars plow into each other. But that’s the least of the survivors’ challenges. During the blackout, everyone experienced a glimpse of what his or her future holds—and the interlocking mosaic of these visions threatens to unravel the present.

30 review for Flashforward

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    There are so many ways I could pay tribute to this book (audiobook), which was an awful piece of writing, but an entertaining way to spend ten hours in a car. Perhaps a drinking game (NOT in the car): RULE: Drink every time a character is identified by his or her hair color.* RULE:Drink every time someone uses the word "indeed" in an internal monologue. RULE: Drink every time someone answers their own question within an internal monologue a la "Yes? Yes!" or "No? No!" RULE: Drink every time a charact There are so many ways I could pay tribute to this book (audiobook), which was an awful piece of writing, but an entertaining way to spend ten hours in a car. Perhaps a drinking game (NOT in the car): RULE: Drink every time a character is identified by his or her hair color.* RULE:Drink every time someone uses the word "indeed" in an internal monologue. RULE: Drink every time someone answers their own question within an internal monologue a la "Yes? Yes!" or "No? No!" RULE: Drink every time a character ruminates extensively to himself in between the numbers of a countdown. No? No. Maybe this would be better suited to a different list: Tips On Good Writing, the Robert J. Sawyer Way: 1. Anything worth writing about is worth writing about in excrutiating detail. This includes bodily functions, routine tasks, and subway stations. 2. The onomatopeia is your friend. Don't be afraid to let a bullet go "KABLAM!" 3. Any hackneyed action phrase worth using once is worth using once or twice more in the chapter. 4. Get creative! Why have a character simply smile when instead you can have someone "feel his features stretch into a grin"? After all, you don't just smile with your mouth. 5. Everything has a sound, so make sure to get those details in there. Hair rustles if you shake your head while lying on a pillow (maybe I need a new conditioner?). Shoes slap against stairs (at least mine do; I got them at Bozo's Clown Warehouse). 6. Character development is crucial, and again detail is key. That's why you can't just have a character remember that he once ran a marathon. He should remember that he once ran from Marathon to Athens, a trip of precisely 26.2 miles, in a recreation of the famous historical run which gave marathon running its name. 7. Don't be sexist! Women can be smart, too. They can be engineers and physicists. They are also scared of all male strangers, and keep their eye on the exits when talking to one. 8. The future will be very different from now. It's fun to speculate on the differences both in passing comments, like mentioning how blue jeans will be out of style, or in expositional paragraphs. Preferably lots of them. 9. If you get bored identifying characters by hair color, you can identify them by eye color instead. Get it in there as soon as possible, even if it means having one character see another's grey eyes in a darkened tunnel from a distance of 50 metres. 10. Every character should be from a different country. This is called diversity, and helps when you're trying to come up with hair colors and names. -- Does the audiobook format make me more critical of an author's style, or do I always choose laughably terrible audiobooks? In either case, I was curious to read the book that inspired ABC's mediocre Lost-wannabe Flash Forward series, and figured it would help pass the time on a couple of roadtrips. It was a GREAT way to pass the time, since my sister and I spent the entire 10ish hours mocking it MST3K-style. *Bonus excerpt from the first chapter: "Lloyd Simcoe, a Canadian-born researcher, sat at the injection console. He was forty-five, tall, and clean-shaven. His eyes were blue and his crewcut hair so dark brown that one could get away with calling it black - except at the temples, where about half of it had turned gray." Two paragraphs later: "Seated on his right, in front of the detector console, was the master of the makeover herself, his fiancee, enginer Michiko Komura. Ten years Lloyd's junior at thirty five, Michiko had a small upturned nose and lustrous black hair that she had styled in the currently popular page boy cut." Next paragraph: "Theo had curly, thick, dark hair, gray eyes, and a prominent, jutting jaw."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    The only thing this shares with the TV series of the same name is the concept of everyone in the world simultaneously blacking out for two minutes, during which they have a “flashforward” of their future. In the TV series that is 6 months hence; in the book it is more than 20 years hence, so the implications are very different. It’s a fantastic concept and it’s explored in a variety of interesting ways, but it is really badly written (how has Sawyer won literary prizes?). Although it is primaril The only thing this shares with the TV series of the same name is the concept of everyone in the world simultaneously blacking out for two minutes, during which they have a “flashforward” of their future. In the TV series that is 6 months hence; in the book it is more than 20 years hence, so the implications are very different. It’s a fantastic concept and it’s explored in a variety of interesting ways, but it is really badly written (how has Sawyer won literary prizes?). Although it is primarily sci fi (set at CERN), there is a murder investigation to widen its appeal, and a poor pastiche of Arthur C Clarke's 2001. After the flashforward, people pool their sightings on a website to see if they match (e.g. if I was lunching with John, was he lunching with me?). Some find their visions reaffirming and others want to fight against their apparent destiny - echoes of Oedipus and Scrooge. Meanwhile, investigation is under way as to what caused it, amidst recriminations regarding those who died, e.g. when vehicles crashed and surgeons passed out. Would you want a flashforward? What are the political implications for governments; insurance implications; would patent offices be swamped; would it weaken or strengthen religious belief; how would small children cope with what they see as an adult 20 years hence; could you marry someone if you knew that you would be with someone else in 20 years time? And of course the big one: is our future immutable or do we live in a multiverse? One oddity is that most of it is set last year (2009), which was the near future when it was written in 1999, so there is unintended entertainment from the things he got wrong, though I do live in hope of newspapers voluntarily dropping horoscopes because "printing such nonsense was at odds with their fundamental purpose of disseminating truth". Despite the high ideas, this book has weaknesses common to poor sci fi: teaching readers the science with dialogue between experts who would already know whatever it is along with trivial references to life in the future which irritate rather than illuminate or amuse (Ikea's Billy bookcase will still be around in 2009, but George Lucas still won't have filmed all of Star Wars). And there is plenty of other plodding prose, "As headquarters of numerous international organisations, Geneva attracted people from all over the world." Wow (not). There are also odd holes in the plot; for instance we are meant to believe that CERN has no emergency procedures, even of the kind that an ordinary office has? So, read it for the concept, try to let the poor writing wash over you, and pay attention when Sanduleak is first explained.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    “There were, of course, cries of outrage in the press—editorials about scientists messing with things humans were not meant to know about.” Ah! Where would we be if scientists don’t mess about, but who is to say what are the things humans were not meant to know? Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein implies that Victor Frankenstein messed with things humans were not meant to know about, and broken necks ensue. Flashforward takes the opposing view that scientists need to experiment (mess about) for the sake “There were, of course, cries of outrage in the press—editorials about scientists messing with things humans were not meant to know about.” Ah! Where would we be if scientists don’t mess about, but who is to say what are the things humans were not meant to know? Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein implies that Victor Frankenstein messed with things humans were not meant to know about, and broken necks ensue. Flashforward takes the opposing view that scientists need to experiment (mess about) for the sake of progress. Flashforward has an inspired “high concept” kind of premise, simple to understand yet has a wide scope for imagining the repercussions. An experiment in particle acceleration and collision causes the entire human race to blackout and experience a two minutes vision of their lives twenty years in the future (from 2:21 to 2:23 P.M. Eastern Time on Wednesday, October 23, 2030, to be precise). Unfortunately millions of people also die from fatal accidents caused by the blackout as they were driving, sitting in planes, crossing roads, going down stairs, trimming their nasal hair etc. when everybody in the world blackout (animals continued with their scampering about, though). Dr. Lloyd Simcoe, one of the two scientists in charge of the experiment has a vision of himself married to a stranger instead of his fiancé. Theo Procopides, the other scientist in charge, does not have any vision, and subsequent investigation, with collaborating account from others, shows that he will be murdered one day prior to October 23, 2030. This sets Theo off on a mission to find out who will murder him and why. As for Dr. Simcoe he is coping with the personal fallout from the “flashforward” (AKA “time displacement event”), his fiancé’s daughter died from an accident caused by this event, he feels guilty about inadvertently causing so much death and destruction. However, not long after the event, the same experiment is repeated with approval from the UN and other countries because many people want to know whether the vision they had is of a fixed future or is there some wiggle room. The best thing about Flash Forward is the aforementioned high concept. Sawyer explores some very interesting issues about fate and predestination; together with some fascinating, and even educational, science expositions (not that I actually understand all of it). The “observer effect” in quantum theory is news to me and reminds me of that old “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it” discussion. It is also linked to the “Schrödinger’s cat” thought experiment which is mind expanding stuff. While the book is very readable, though the prose and dialogue are rather workmanlike, I don't think Sawyer has used the premise to its full potential. A lot of narrative space is taken up by Theo fruitlessly investigating his own future murder and Lloyd trying to sort out his relationship issues with his fiancé. The Lloyd story arc is particularly wasteful as neither Lloyd nor his fiancé is particularly well developed; human interest is all very well, but I am not interested in these humans. I wish Sawyer has explored other, less mundane avenues of the basic premise instead. There is an instant paradox in the basic premise that is not adequately explored. If you consider that the flashforward event in 2009 is probably the most monumental occurrence in history, it follows that the people in 2030 would already be aware that on October 23 at a specific time whatever they are seeing is going to be shared with their past selves, yet they seem to be completely unaware of this. It could be argued that they are in a different timeline from their past selves of 2009 and that in their version the event did not happen. However, that sounds rather illogical, and besides, Lloyd is adamant that the future is immutable. This issue is brought up in the narrative but not much is made of it. I won’t spoil the ending but it seems to have been inspired by Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey which is interesting but does not seem to fit in comfortably with the rest of the book. On the whole, though I quite enjoyed Flashforward, it could have been better but it is good enough as it is to be recommended. This is my first Robert J. Sawyer and I will certainly read more from him. Notes: • I have never seen the 2009 TV series based on this book, so can’t really say anything about it, it did die a quick death after one series, though! • If you are interested in sci-fi explorations of fate and predestination, red Ted Chiang's astounding Story of Your Life novella (filmed as Arrival). ________________________ Quotes: “Whatever we did here somehow caused the consciousness of the human race to jump ahead twenty-one years for a period of two minutes” “The large Hadron Collider was actually two accelerators in one: one accelerated particles clockwise; the other, counterclockwise. A particle beam going in one direction could be made to collide with another beam going in the opposite direction, and then— And then E=mc2, big time.” “The many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics says that every time an event can go two ways, instead of one or the other way happening, both happen, each in a separate universe. “Specifically, the visions portray the universe that split from this universe at the moment of your LHC experiment; they show the future as it is in a universe in which the time-displacement effect did not occur.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    TK421

    Two minutes and seventeen seconds. A small amount of time for most of us, but within the confines of Robert Sawyer's fantastic science fiction novel FLASHFORWARD, 2:17 becomes more than a number; it becomes the insight to what the future holds. You see, 2:17 is the amount of time humnaity checked-out. All seven billion. As you can guess, choas ensued if you were one of the unlucky ones awake at the time. Planes crashed. Cars drove themselves. I can only guess what that unlucky skydiver experienc Two minutes and seventeen seconds. A small amount of time for most of us, but within the confines of Robert Sawyer's fantastic science fiction novel FLASHFORWARD, 2:17 becomes more than a number; it becomes the insight to what the future holds. You see, 2:17 is the amount of time humnaity checked-out. All seven billion. As you can guess, choas ensued if you were one of the unlucky ones awake at the time. Planes crashed. Cars drove themselves. I can only guess what that unlucky skydiver experienced. Joking aside. Sawyer did something really interesting with 2:17. It is not only the amount of time a person was blacked out, but, as I said, it was also the amount of time a person glimpsed into thier future 21 years in the future. Some of these futures were bright; some not. The real question is: What would you do with this knowledge? Knowledge. Hmmm....? Take a look at Genesis 2:17. "But of the tree of knowledge of good and eveil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die." Dang, Mr. Sawyer, what a tangled web you weave. Even though humanity had no choice in seeing thier future, they still had a choice on how they would decide to live thier lives. Would this knowledge corrupt you from living your life? Or, would you be able to remain freewilled? Can the future be changed? Or, is it written with an iron pen? I doff my cap at you, Mr. Sawyer. You have successfully created a thought-provoking novel with layered implications about religion and human nature. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (Too bad the miniseries blew bubbles...)

  5. 4 out of 5

    The Bird from Twin Peaks

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Wow, what to say. As much as I hate to say it, this book was written really poorly. Sawyer managed to claw defeat from the jaws of victory of a plot that could practically write itself: an examination of just what would happen if humanity, collectively, got a glimpse of their future. His (copious) asides were completely distracting, sharing with the reader such salient things as: all VCRs across Europe say "REW" for their rewind function, despite their national language; a tedious conversation abo Wow, what to say. As much as I hate to say it, this book was written really poorly. Sawyer managed to claw defeat from the jaws of victory of a plot that could practically write itself: an examination of just what would happen if humanity, collectively, got a glimpse of their future. His (copious) asides were completely distracting, sharing with the reader such salient things as: all VCRs across Europe say "REW" for their rewind function, despite their national language; a tedious conversation about the minutiae of the navigational widgets of fictional graphical user interfaces in the year 2030; a 3-page recap of the ending dialogue of Casablanca, when the point it was used to make was already relegated to flogging the proverbial deceased equine; and this choice sentence: "But it would be like Pyrrhus's defeats of the Romans at Heraclea and Asculum, the kind of victory that still bears his name, a victory at a horrible cost." Yes, Robert, we all know what a Pyrrhic victory is. Humbug, I tell you! I am a gigantic science (and especially physics) nerd and an expat, and I absolutely loved the TV show, the premise and plot, and the idea surrounding this timely book (considering the LHC is now powered up). Hence, I am the exact target audience for this story, but I was sadly left very disappointed, with shattered dreams of what might have been a fantastic book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    For me, Robert J. Sawyer novels are either hit or miss. They're either incredibly brilliant and I can't turn the pages fast enough ("Rollback") or I can't wait for the final page to turn just to be done with the novel ("Homonids"). And I'll admit I picked up this one because ABC has put it on the fast-track for development for a potential TV series. One that could air after "Lost" and is being sold as a "companion" piece for one of my favorite TV shows. Being a book-snob, I knew I had to try the For me, Robert J. Sawyer novels are either hit or miss. They're either incredibly brilliant and I can't turn the pages fast enough ("Rollback") or I can't wait for the final page to turn just to be done with the novel ("Homonids"). And I'll admit I picked up this one because ABC has put it on the fast-track for development for a potential TV series. One that could air after "Lost" and is being sold as a "companion" piece for one of my favorite TV shows. Being a book-snob, I knew I had to try the original novel before the series comes out, so I can spend hours boring friends and family about how the book is better. I've tried to get help for this condition, but so far, no luck. Thankfully, "Flashfoward" falls into the category of really good Robert J. Saywer novels. The premise is that on the day an experiment is conducted at the CERT supercollider, people experience a flash forward of thirty years into the future for two minutes. Everyone has visions for about two minutes of where they'll be and what they'll be doing thirty years hence. Then everything shifts back and we have to deal with the fallout and ramifications of things. The driving focus of the story is a mystery. One of the lead characters sees no vision of the future, but by talking to others determines he was murdered two days before the events everyone saw. He then begins to slowly try and unravel who killed him and why in an attempt to prevent that future from becoming reality. One of the many interesting debates in the story is whether or not the future is "set" or can we make changes to it. Two character are engaged, but in the future he sees himself married to another woman. So, should the two continue their path to marriage given than it appears things don't work out? Do we have free will? Is the timeline set or are there an infinite number of universes based on decisions we make today that change things in small but interesting ways? Or all we just robots acting out some grand drama and we have no control over our lives? Sawyer brings up these questions and some theories on the nature of time and free will vs determinism in a fascinating way. To counter the engaged couple, Sawyer gives us two scientists who have a vision of engaging in sexual intercourse at a lab during the flashforward. The moment is thirty years from now, but when they get back the two find each other, meet and begin a relationship. Will the passion still be there in thirty years or have they changed the future? Were they destined to meet? Did the flashfoward push them together sooner? The novel also brings up the interesting idea of if you know too much about your future, can that be a negative thing? One aspiring author sees himself in the future, working as a waiter and having never "made it" as a writer. Rather than toil, he decides his life is over and commits suicide. The novel also brings up that this happens to a lot of other people, many of whom lose hope over not seeing their dreams come true or the future as something that want to move forward to. Reading the novel, I can see the potential for a great TV series here and why it could be a good companion show for "Lost." You've got a diverse set of characters who are thrown together and must come to grips with a central mystery of what happened and why. There is a similar interconnectedness among the characters like we have in "Lost" as well. Will it work as a TV show if you remove or have to solve the "will I or won't I be murdered?" thread that drives the main plot? Yes, it could. While that plotline is sufficiently satisfying and drives the story forward, it's still the philosophical questions that Sawyer raises that really linger with the reader after the final page is turned.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    As with quite a few people my first introduction to this book came through the show based on it. Very loosely based on it. I liked the show but being TV it had to take a more exciting angle on it. Turn the flashforward into some big conspiracy, with heroes and villains and a much shorter time frame. The book though is much more peaceful. There's no conspiracy. It was an accident. And the vision was over 20 years later rather than 6 months. There is a lot of heavy science in this book but, for me, As with quite a few people my first introduction to this book came through the show based on it. Very loosely based on it. I liked the show but being TV it had to take a more exciting angle on it. Turn the flashforward into some big conspiracy, with heroes and villains and a much shorter time frame. The book though is much more peaceful. There's no conspiracy. It was an accident. And the vision was over 20 years later rather than 6 months. There is a lot of heavy science in this book but, for me, it didn't slow it down. Everything was explained, you don't need to be a Nobel laureate physicist to keep up, and whilst there was a little action it was only a sidepiece, not the main event. This book is about examining how people would react to the knowledge of what their future could possibly be. Whether everything in life is predetermined or do we truly have free will. I like to believe we do. I am an atheist. I do not believe in any god or fate and that we alone control our lives. I really enjoyed this book. More than the TV show but in a much different way. The show was action and thrills. The book is deep thoughts and philosophical discussions. And is well worth reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kat Hagedorn

    http://tinyurl.com/yl7nlst Forget the book, watch the series. Sawyer is not that good a writer, but his ideas are phenomenal. There's a lot of stumbling around in the book-- mostly via descriptions of the physics that take pages, and descriptions of the characters that don't advance the plot or make us care for the characters any longer or any more than we do. I was particularly confused by the ending. I'll admit that the physics has to be explained, and that Sawyer does not do a bad job of making http://tinyurl.com/yl7nlst Forget the book, watch the series. Sawyer is not that good a writer, but his ideas are phenomenal. There's a lot of stumbling around in the book-- mostly via descriptions of the physics that take pages, and descriptions of the characters that don't advance the plot or make us care for the characters any longer or any more than we do. I was particularly confused by the ending. I'll admit that the physics has to be explained, and that Sawyer does not do a bad job of making it clear what the issue/solution is, but making something compelling and clarifying something are too wholly different approaches. In the ending, however, he makes a point about human consciousness and its existence negating the possibility of consciousness elsewhere in the universe-- and boom, he'd lost me. Seems like an important point, and in conjunction with the setting for the ending, really important to get it just right. The idea for the novel, however, is what sets it apart-- everyone has a flash forward at the same time and of the same time in the future. How does that affect the world? How does the world respond? How does it affect our thinking about the future? As I said, the series is doing a far better job (we'll see how season 1 ends). Do yourself a favor and skip the reading part.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This is a very hard book to rate. The TV show was SO much better. I was drawn to read this because I loved the TV show Flashforward of a couple of years ago, the one that didn’t make it past two seasons. I thought it was such a fascinating premise: Everyone on earth blacks out for two minutes and sees a vision of his or her own future. They get to observe exactly what they’ll be doing six months hence, leading afterward to much contemplation by characters (and viewers) about whether the future i This is a very hard book to rate. The TV show was SO much better. I was drawn to read this because I loved the TV show Flashforward of a couple of years ago, the one that didn’t make it past two seasons. I thought it was such a fascinating premise: Everyone on earth blacks out for two minutes and sees a vision of his or her own future. They get to observe exactly what they’ll be doing six months hence, leading afterward to much contemplation by characters (and viewers) about whether the future is fixed or mutable, and if fixed, is there anything such thing as free will. The book was said to be the “inspiration” for the TV show. Not even the basis, only “inspiration.” And that’s about right, because there are few similarities except the idea, the black-out/flashforward event, and a couple of characters, or at least their names. Some of the characters’ situations are similar, but assigned to other characters, and the start point of the story, which affects the suspense angle, begins elsewhere. The flashforward of the book is a leap of 21 years, not 6 months, as in the TV show, which creates a whole other set of ramifications. But the main problem with the book is substantive quantities of silliness in the thinking of characters who are supposed to be scientists, ridiculous plot devices, completely unbelievable motivations, and near the end, a over-long chase scene that might work cinematically but was hopeless on the page, that had me saying out loud to no one in particular (in my empty apartment), “This is stupid.” But I can hardly give less than 3 stars to it when, for the first ¾ of the book, I confess I could hardly put it down. Nevertheless, I do NOT recommend this book except to the most die-hard sci-fi fans who don’t mind mediocre writing and pseudo-scientific discussions of quantum mechanics that even I, a person most ignorant of all things scientific, could see were not well thought-out even within the context of the story. Put the TV show on your Netflix queue instead, which is what I am going to do right now so I can re-watch it for the joy of trying to decide, do we have free will? Or is everything preordained? What happens a year from now is going to happen, right, whatever it turns out to be? If I knew what that would be, would my actions make any difference? Would I have read this book if I’d known it would be this stupid?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    I’ve had Flashback sitting in my to-read pile for a long time now, but I kept moving books in front of it. It was a surprisingly fast and easy read, but it missed some of the depth it could have achieved considering its themes. The largest theme is freewill vs. determinism. That’s a pretty meaty topic for such a short book. Religion has been debating this issue for millennia and hasn’t come to a full conclusion. This book tries to take a scientific approach, but it’s nothing that can really be d I’ve had Flashback sitting in my to-read pile for a long time now, but I kept moving books in front of it. It was a surprisingly fast and easy read, but it missed some of the depth it could have achieved considering its themes. The largest theme is freewill vs. determinism. That’s a pretty meaty topic for such a short book. Religion has been debating this issue for millennia and hasn’t come to a full conclusion. This book tries to take a scientific approach, but it’s nothing that can really be determined empirically. Another theme is science gone wrong. Unfortunately, that kind of gets glossed over. Yes, there are some dire consequences to the Flashforward event, but the scientists spend more time debating the immutability of the future than trying to figure out why their experiment caused it. I would have preferred it if they had focused more on the mechanics of the Flashforward than whether or not the future can be changed. It’s really easy for me to point to what I didn’t like about the novel. I didn’t really connect with the characters, they seemed kind of flat. I thought it took twists that really didn’t mean anything. I thought it jumped too quickly from 2009 to 2030. However, I kept turning those pages. I wanted to see how the future would really turn out. This book is a solid three star read for me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. It was just good enough.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Well this was an interesting read - more for curiosity than because it was an amazing book. Cast your memory back to a short lived TV series of the same name where an unidentified event causes every living persons consciousness to be transported forward in time for just over 2 minutes - and then returned. The TV series deals with the events both here and now - and the implications of what people saw in the future. Now the book - this too follows similar lines but suddenly not only are you dealing Well this was an interesting read - more for curiosity than because it was an amazing book. Cast your memory back to a short lived TV series of the same name where an unidentified event causes every living persons consciousness to be transported forward in time for just over 2 minutes - and then returned. The TV series deals with the events both here and now - and the implications of what people saw in the future. Now the book - this too follows similar lines but suddenly not only are you dealing with different characters but also a different location. The story is more philosophical, asking such questions about free will and predetermination rather than action pack chases and shoot outs as seen in the TV show. Is this a better book for it - I dont think so, yes at times you want to scream "just do something" and at other times you start to feel that the author has put too much time in to the mechanics of reasoning than the storyline - but I must say that for all that this is a cleverly written book which took the story beyond that if the TV series (although it may have paid off just the series was cancelled before it could - who knows). So for fans of the series I would say this book could have almost have happened along side the series rather than been a re-hashed retelling of the same story. As I say an interesting book

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kenny

    "FlashForward," the inspiration for the hit ABC television series, is nothing more than that: inspiration. It is hardly anything like the series, and thank goodness for that, because Sawyer is such a poor writer that one can only explain his numerous awards as being given for clever concepts, not execution. His book is full of hackneyed situations, paper-thin characters, a bumpy and unsatisfying storyline, and a climax that is not climactic but ultimately depressing and pointless. Given his view "FlashForward," the inspiration for the hit ABC television series, is nothing more than that: inspiration. It is hardly anything like the series, and thank goodness for that, because Sawyer is such a poor writer that one can only explain his numerous awards as being given for clever concepts, not execution. His book is full of hackneyed situations, paper-thin characters, a bumpy and unsatisfying storyline, and a climax that is not climactic but ultimately depressing and pointless. Given his views about the purpose of life, one wonders why Sawyer writes at all. When everyone on earth goes unconscious for two minutes and sees a two-minute slice of their future twenty years hence, you'd think this would make for pretty good storytelling, focusing on the free will/destiny argument popular since Socrates. Instead, Sawyer lets the cat out of the bag early, making CERN scientist Lloyd Simcoe responsible for the flashforward, due to an experiment in which he was searching for a mysterious theoretical particle, the "Higgs boson." So on the first page, all possible metaphysical and spiritual explanations for the flashfoward are crushed, leaving only the dry, boring, and ultimately unsatisfying physics explanations, which go on for pages in which scientists argue among themselves according to their own personal biases and frankly non-scientific beliefs. And in the end, when the book had a possibility of salvage, when scientists again replicate the flashforward twenty years in the future, Sawyer once again proves he's no storyteller, or at least proves he cannot tell stories to humans but should stick to writing computer code. Simcoe finds himself in an impossibly distant future, when the earth and its sun have disappeared, galaxies have collided, and only a few select souls (notably, Nobel Prize winners... the best we had. You're joking, right?) survive in metal bodies. But for what purpose? It turns out that mankind was nature's most horrible joke: utterly alone in the universe and now almost entirely gone, there was never any purpose or reason for our existence. Sawyer says we were a fluke to begin with, we have no analogs anywhere in the universe, and thus our demise is inevitable and meaningless. The First Law of Thermodynamics deals with the conservation of energy. It states that matter cannot be created nor destroyed. In Sawyer's limited view, this means life has no meaning, but to the spiritually minded (and the truly open-minded) this means that our existence alone proves that we are supposed to exist. We are a form of matter and have thus always existed; we have a purpose. And no matter what faux-philosophical debates occur in the book (and there are way too many), free will exists and destiny doesn't. Thus our choices give our lives meaning. I recommend you conserve your energy and skip this unsatisfying book and instead watch the television series, where the creators are truly creative: the flashforward is only six months away, the characters are for the most part not scientists, and free will remains intact in a meaningful universe and Llloyd Simcoe and his creator are mere bit players in the bigger story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    I picked up this book because I was completely in love with the ABC series. Well, just so you know, it's COMPLETELY different. Except for the Flashforward and Mosaic, not even the characters are the same. Lloyd Simcoe is in the series, but as a secondary character... That being said, the book was okay. It's not something I would have picked to read had I not seen the TV series. Lloyd Simcoe, for some reason, reminds me a lot of Robert Langdon. But Seeing as Flashforward was published in 1999 and t I picked up this book because I was completely in love with the ABC series. Well, just so you know, it's COMPLETELY different. Except for the Flashforward and Mosaic, not even the characters are the same. Lloyd Simcoe is in the series, but as a secondary character... That being said, the book was okay. It's not something I would have picked to read had I not seen the TV series. Lloyd Simcoe, for some reason, reminds me a lot of Robert Langdon. But Seeing as Flashforward was published in 1999 and the first Robert Langdon book (Angels and Demons) was published in 2000, I guess I should say that Langdon reminds me of Simcoe... I don't really see how Sawyer received so many awards for this. It gets tepid in many, many places. The IDEAS themselves are spectacular, but Sawyer just didn't know how to write a good novel around it. The ABC series, on he other hand, was a fast-paced, exciting, action-filled show. Which is how the novel SHOULD have been. With a smattering of science explained throughout instead of basically giving you textbook definitions and explanations. If you decide to read this novel, I strongly suggest you watch the series as well, just to see how good it COULD have been... my rating: The adaptation is better than the original...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    I actually read this book as part of a selection for my book club. I want to read the book because I think the concept is interest and can stir a lot of discussion about science and the ability to have a glimpse of your future. I found the book too heavy on the technical and scientific description. I think the author could have use the time to better develop his characters. Getting past all the physics theories and extended descriptions, the idea behind the story is interesting. See how people co I actually read this book as part of a selection for my book club. I want to read the book because I think the concept is interest and can stir a lot of discussion about science and the ability to have a glimpse of your future. I found the book too heavy on the technical and scientific description. I think the author could have use the time to better develop his characters. Getting past all the physics theories and extended descriptions, the idea behind the story is interesting. See how people cope with their vision (or lack of) and their transition through determining if the future they saw is set of can be change. The book is differs from the TV show in a number of ways. If you watch the show, it will not be ruin if you decide to read the book and visa versa. Over all not too bad, although I am not sure that my book club will like the first stab at sci-fi. I still think there is a lot of discussion potential. I don't think I would like to see the future!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Flashforward is an excellent hard-science novel that wanders from quantum physics through speculative realms of time and religion and pre-determination and personal responsibility and all manner of thought-provoking and mind-challenging themes. I wasn't sure about the ending, but that was kind of built into the nature of the question. It's probably Sawyer's best-known book, due to the television series that was (loosely) based on it. I happened to attend a convention near the end of the run of t Flashforward is an excellent hard-science novel that wanders from quantum physics through speculative realms of time and religion and pre-determination and personal responsibility and all manner of thought-provoking and mind-challenging themes. I wasn't sure about the ending, but that was kind of built into the nature of the question. It's probably Sawyer's best-known book, due to the television series that was (loosely) based on it. I happened to attend a convention near the end of the run of the series at which Sawyer gave a talk about suggestions he had made to the show-runners on how to change and save it. His ideas were intelligent and entertaining (he's an excellent speaker), but he was repeatedly interrupted by a heckler in the audience who told him his ideas would ruin the writers' visions... what? It was an opinion that must have been shared by the TV folks, 'cause it was soon cancelled. Anyway, ignore the boring book cover and the not-so-good TV series and read the very intelligent novel.

  16. 4 out of 5

    * kyrat

    One of those very rare cases where the tv show is better than the book.(IMO) I've discovered don't like Robert Sawyer's books. I had previously read his attempt at "intelligent design" SciFi book called "Calculating God" (which I *LOATHED*). However, the concept of this book was so interesting, I was intrigued. I enjoyed the TV show adaptation but wanted more answers, so I read the book. I had to force my way through it. I don't know why but I just don't like his writing style. I don't think it's ju One of those very rare cases where the tv show is better than the book.(IMO) I've discovered don't like Robert Sawyer's books. I had previously read his attempt at "intelligent design" SciFi book called "Calculating God" (which I *LOATHED*). However, the concept of this book was so interesting, I was intrigued. I enjoyed the TV show adaptation but wanted more answers, so I read the book. I had to force my way through it. I don't know why but I just don't like his writing style. I don't think it's just because there's a lot of physics involved, I'm able to read other SciFi that explores concepts that are over my head and I just sort of skim the science-y bits and get the general gist. I don't like or connect with any of his characters. The two main characters are two male physicists dealing with the outcome of their experiment & their future. One spends the whole book trying to figure out if he should marry someone if they may not stay together. Second guy spends a lot of the book trying to figure out why someone may want to kill him & lusting for first guys almost wife. I've been trying to put my finger on it, but I can't pinpoint it - but something about how the author writes his characters rubs me the wrong way. Making one of the main characters think about how he he has to be politically correct and call people melanin-Americans" (the kind of exagerrated over-correcting that in my experience, racist people use). The only people I hear talking about "politically correctness" are usually complaining about being "forced" to use polite terms. people that stress/emphasize the fact that they're using the "correct" terms. Then there are the depictions of people feeling 'yellow fever' & thinking about an "exotic" Japanese woman and repeated mentions of "almond eyes". I know there are people out there who are like that, & I don't have a problem with their representation. It felt more like 'here's how the author sees Japanese women' than, "author is writing a character that has these thoughts". Again, I can't really point to a specific sentence that proves it, it was just the feeling I got as I read the book. So go watch the tv adaptation which expanded on these ideas in a better way - then if you're still curious read the last section of the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kemper

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a great premise for a book. The entire human race gets a two minute glimpse at what they're doing twenty-one years into the future. Some people like what they see and some hate their futures. Unfortunately, by concentrating solely on a couple of storylines regarding scientists who accidently caused the flash forward, the book doesn't quite deliver on the world of possibilities it could have. Some of my favorite parts were the the footnotes about what some people had seen. For example, t This is a great premise for a book. The entire human race gets a two minute glimpse at what they're doing twenty-one years into the future. Some people like what they see and some hate their futures. Unfortunately, by concentrating solely on a couple of storylines regarding scientists who accidently caused the flash forward, the book doesn't quite deliver on the world of possibilities it could have. Some of my favorite parts were the the footnotes about what some people had seen. For example, there's a mass email plea from the future president of the U.S. telling everyone to stop emailing him that he's going to be the president. Plus, it never addresses a core problem introduced early in the book. One of the main character gives a very scientific arguement that the future is set and that it can't be changed. What everyone saw will come to pass. However, later in the book, some changes are made and some characters change their fates, but others are doing exactly what their visions showed. No explanation is given for how some people are able to change their future while others can't. I've read that a TV pilot is being filmed that's based on this book with the idea of telling how a variety of characters react to the various fates the flash forward shows them. That could be a very cool show that could live up to the potential of the main idea.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Ok. Not offically a Lost Lit book, but it really should be. It's a pretty cool concept. Scientists try to rebuild the same situations that took place to create the Big Bang, and when they push the button to start the experiment, everyone in the world loses consciousness and jumps into their future selves for almost two minutes. The visions, or lack of, that they experience shape their actions and thoughts for the next twenty years. Two complaints... The author uses the word "doubtless" an amazin Ok. Not offically a Lost Lit book, but it really should be. It's a pretty cool concept. Scientists try to rebuild the same situations that took place to create the Big Bang, and when they push the button to start the experiment, everyone in the world loses consciousness and jumps into their future selves for almost two minutes. The visions, or lack of, that they experience shape their actions and thoughts for the next twenty years. Two complaints... The author uses the word "doubtless" an amazingly annoying amount of times. I counted at least ONCE per page. So we are talking a minium of 320 times. Somebody get Sawyer a thesaurus.... for the love of all things literature! The ending was ... meh. For me, it certainly didn't end the way I wanted it to. For those reasons, it recvd 4 stars. And it may have even gotten a 5th star from me had the author not overused Doubtless... "Doubtless she thought...." "He doubtless spent time..." over and over and over and over and over and over....

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I had trouble sleeping last night, partly because I found this book so engaging. I'm about 2/3 done already, and I'm pretty sure I'll want to recommend this to others and to read more by the author. I particularly liked that he didn't start out the way so many of these stories that have a large cast of characters do, by introducing us to each backstory before getting to the meat of the adventure. We got to know more and more people as we went along. I also am enjoying the 'predictions.' This was w I had trouble sleeping last night, partly because I found this book so engaging. I'm about 2/3 done already, and I'm pretty sure I'll want to recommend this to others and to read more by the author. I particularly liked that he didn't start out the way so many of these stories that have a large cast of characters do, by introducing us to each backstory before getting to the meat of the adventure. We got to know more and more people as we went along. I also am enjoying the 'predictions.' This was written almost two decades ago, primarily taking place 6 1/2 yrs ago, and referring to a future that's not really all that far away. So, red denim, because blue denim jeans are old-fashioned, in 2009. Roads need less maintenance, because cars glide a few feet off the ground (but what about semis, that are actually much harder on pavement?) in 2009. A totally recognizable world in 2030 (really?!).... And done. Aspects of the end got a little far-fetched, as sometimes happens in ambitious hard SF, but I still am very glad I read this and will consider more by the author.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    I liked the book quite a lot. It was a very easy read, quick to get into, fast to finish. The premise is interesting, and fit nicely into place with the many books I've been reading lately about fate vs. free will. I also always enjoy when sci-fi books can teach me some interesting science lessons while still making it fun. I enjoyed the way Theo's arc read like a mystery novel within context of the greater story. What I thought worked best was the way that the book told the overall story of a g I liked the book quite a lot. It was a very easy read, quick to get into, fast to finish. The premise is interesting, and fit nicely into place with the many books I've been reading lately about fate vs. free will. I also always enjoy when sci-fi books can teach me some interesting science lessons while still making it fun. I enjoyed the way Theo's arc read like a mystery novel within context of the greater story. What I thought worked best was the way that the book told the overall story of a global crisis while also telling several very personal individual stories. The way it all wove together was quite nice. I read the entire book in 2 sittings, and really didn't want to put it down after the first, partly out of curiosity, partly because it was flowing so nicely that I didn't want to break the rhythm. That said, it wasn't as good as it should have been. Without giving any spoilers, I thought the end was too abrupt for Lloyd and really made no sense in the context of the story, and that the rationalizations for Theo's resolution didn't makes sense in his framework of fate vs. destiny. Also, the author has a tendency to use the book as a forum to tout his personal opinions. Sure, who can blame him to some degree, who doesn't want to rant against Microsoft or OJ, but it can get a bit distracting from the story. From what I've seen in reviews of his other books, this is something he does often. I'd recommend a bit more restraint in this area, or that he should just use a blog. So, overall it's really a 3.5, but I decided to round up because of the nice easy flow and overall interesting ideas.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Silver Thistle

    Robert Sawyer always finds great stories to write about. His ideas always draw me in and I think I'm in for a fantastic tale. Then I reach the end and I feel like it could have been more. Flashforward had a great pull - See your own life 20 years into the future for 2 minutes and try to work out how to get there. It was a brilliant start and a real page turner. I loved reading about everyone's flashforward, I was riveted by all the connotations that flashforward threw up. Even the loss and devasta Robert Sawyer always finds great stories to write about. His ideas always draw me in and I think I'm in for a fantastic tale. Then I reach the end and I feel like it could have been more. Flashforward had a great pull - See your own life 20 years into the future for 2 minutes and try to work out how to get there. It was a brilliant start and a real page turner. I loved reading about everyone's flashforward, I was riveted by all the connotations that flashforward threw up. Even the loss and devastation caused by the flashforward made for interesting reading...The first half is about the here and now. It's great. When we reach the second half, it's all about edging towards the 20 year future that had been predicted. Getting there takes a lot of technical info that frankly I could have done without. The why's and how's don't really interest me. Also the two leads at this stage become a bit whiny. Lloyd Simcoe wants to be with his girl, then he's got doubts, then he's sure again, then he has doubts again....and Theo is so wrapped up in himself that he gets tedious really fast. It's all Me, Me, Me with Theo. THEN we get to the future and it's all wrapped up in a paragraph or 3. It was a bit of a let down. The ending left me with a bit of a 'whaaat??' moment and I imagine for the hard-core sci-fi fans it was the best bit, but I just wasn't feeling it. The conclusion was over in a flash. .....And it's nothing like the tv show...... just sayin'

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jim O.

    I was a huge fan of the TV series, so I thought I would try the book. I had heard that the plot was very different, and I wanted to see what those differences were. I had read Sawyer before and had enjoyed him, so picking this up was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, so was reading it. I found the characters, plot, and writing style to be so boring that I couldn't even finish it. I stopped reading it about halfway through, which was generous on my part. I had already started to get bored in the first I was a huge fan of the TV series, so I thought I would try the book. I had heard that the plot was very different, and I wanted to see what those differences were. I had read Sawyer before and had enjoyed him, so picking this up was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, so was reading it. I found the characters, plot, and writing style to be so boring that I couldn't even finish it. I stopped reading it about halfway through, which was generous on my part. I had already started to get bored in the first chapter. Also, some of the science discussion among the characters I thought was ridiculous. Dragging philosophy and pseudoscience into the conversations didn't help either. I read that Frank Tipler was mentioned; thank god I didn't get that far, or I would have thrown the book across the room! The bottom line is that I thought the writing quality was mediocre. In science fiction, especially, you can get away with preposterous scenarios and also ridiculous dialogue, as long as the characters and writing are decent; this was not the case with this book. I don't think I want to ever read another book by Sawyer. For those thinking of reading it, watch the TV series instead, it was far better (despite the unsatisfying ending).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Flashforward was an interesting SciFi about glimpsing the future and what would happen if we'd had that opportunity. Sawyer is not the best writer, it's evident in this book, but it was entertaining enough if you could get past that. The concept of the book is incredible! The science was pretty good too and not boring. I have no complaints about pacing either. I personally found that Saywer's writing is more like fanfiction than a published author so unfortunately I took off a star for that. I'm Flashforward was an interesting SciFi about glimpsing the future and what would happen if we'd had that opportunity. Sawyer is not the best writer, it's evident in this book, but it was entertaining enough if you could get past that. The concept of the book is incredible! The science was pretty good too and not boring. I have no complaints about pacing either. I personally found that Saywer's writing is more like fanfiction than a published author so unfortunately I took off a star for that. I'm not sure if this is the same for all his works but I'm definitely interested in reading more to confirm. I will say that the ending was garbage and I'm not satisfied with it at all. It felt weird and out of place with the rest of the story. I took off a star for that as well. All in all this was a great story idea that fell flat because of mediocre writing and a poorly executed ending.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I did enjoy this book, but I went into the book thinking it would be like the TV show; and hoped I would give me some closure. With this mentality it took me a while to get into this book. The book is nothing like the TV show. While the TV show was a fast paced, exciting show; the book was more a philosophical look at what life would be like if we knew our future mixed heavily with the scientific theories behind time travel. If you are going to read this book, you need to remember that it is not I did enjoy this book, but I went into the book thinking it would be like the TV show; and hoped I would give me some closure. With this mentality it took me a while to get into this book. The book is nothing like the TV show. While the TV show was a fast paced, exciting show; the book was more a philosophical look at what life would be like if we knew our future mixed heavily with the scientific theories behind time travel. If you are going to read this book, you need to remember that it is nothing like the show. Only some character names and the flash forward concept are the same.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (Giraffe Days)

    It is 2009, and a team of international physicists working at CERN near Geneva in Switzerland (by the French border), are about to run an experiment that they hope will give them the Higg's boson, resulting in a breakthrough in generating energy. Everything's ready to go, and the computer will run the actual experiment; all they have to do is count down and hope. At exactly 5 p.m. local time, it begins. The result is unexpected, to say the least: world-wide catastrophe. Across the globe, every hum It is 2009, and a team of international physicists working at CERN near Geneva in Switzerland (by the French border), are about to run an experiment that they hope will give them the Higg's boson, resulting in a breakthrough in generating energy. Everything's ready to go, and the computer will run the actual experiment; all they have to do is count down and hope. At exactly 5 p.m. local time, it begins. The result is unexpected, to say the least: world-wide catastrophe. Across the globe, every human being passes out (even if they were sleeping) while their consciousness jumps forward in time to 2030, where they become silent watchers of their future lives through their own eyes. But while their minds leap, or start to, their bodies go limp. Planes taking off or landing crash. Every road becomes a death trap as suddenly uncontrolled vehicles collide, killing drivers, passengers and pedestrians. People fall down stairs, breaking their necks. Surgeons in the middle of delicate surgery unwittingly leave their patients to die on the table. There are numerous minor injuries too, of people hitting their heads as they collapse, of spilling hot coffee on themselves, breaking their legs. It is a while before the team of physicists realise what occurred, and that it happened world-wide. The leader of the team, Canadian Lloyd Simcoe, is shaken because his vision saw him in bed with a woman who is not his fiancée, Michiko. His partner, a twenty-seven year old Greek called Theo, had no vision at all. The reason becomes clear: by 2030, he is dead. Michiko's vision showed her with a seven-year-old daughter in Tokyo, while her actual daughter from her first marriage, Tamiko, was killed outside her school by a careening car during the experiment, which someone on CNN dubs the "Flashforward". The world is slow to recover. Everyone is too afraid it will happen again, and everyone has lost someone. The world seems to grind to a halt, and Lloyd believes there's only one thing for it: to come clean and tell the world that it was CERNs experiment that caused it, even though they don't understand how, in order to reassure everyone that it won't happen again. But Lloyd himself, a firm believer in an immutable future who denies the existence of free will, is agonising over whether he should marry Michiko when his vision clearly shows him married to another woman. The product of an unhappy marriage and divorce, he always promised himself that he would never divorce. As people debate whether the future is fixed or not, Michiko comes up with one way to know: run the Flashforward experiment again, and see. I knew absolutely nothing about this story before I started reading it, and I haven't read anything by Sawyer before so I didn't know what his writing would be like either. I was pleasantly surprised. These Big Names in Science fiction always make me wary: more often than not, I expect dull, heavy-handed, jargon-cluttered, vague, needlessly obtuse, and painfully slow-moving prose in which characters are flimsy stereotypes and ideas are set up in a way to test your patience. That's harsh I know, and only covers one kind of science fiction. Over the last few years I've read some very good sci-fi that manages to convey ideas within an interesting story that's actually readable. So good prose and good ideas are not mutually exclusive by any means. There are a few spots of science-geek talk that didn't mean much to me - mostly where they get talking about protons and electrons and neutrinos and space and stars and supernovas, and a bit at the end about an idea someone has to cancel out the original Flashforward so all those people wouldn't die. It's like reading a foreign language for me. But in general Sawyer does a good job of explaining things, and pretty much everything else came across clear and vivid. (There's that word again -- I like the word "vivid", I like to use it, and if I can put it in a review, well, personal cliché it may be, but it's a good sign!) There's nothing flashy about the prose; it's competent, a vehicle or medium through which to carry ideas and a story across, nothing more. Likewise, the characters are fairly simplistic, and while I admire Sawyer's efforts to make a multi-national story peopled with multi-national characters, his ability to capture said people in all their culturally different ways is a bit lacking. Clearly confident with Canadians and Americans, everyone else either comes across as North American, like Michiko and Theo, or as nothing but a shell. Despite the international cast of characters, Sawyer puts an emphasis on those he's more comfortable with -- as you would, I suppose, though I wonder if I can denounce it as lazy writing? Thing is, people use the term "ideas-driven book" to excuse all or any flaws in the other aspects of the novel, especially with high-brow science fiction which strives to be ideas-driven, and I just don't think that's a good enough excuse. As with good prose and good ideas not being mutually exclusive, neither do well-written characters and ideas cancel each other out. Thing is, if you want your ideas-driven novel to convey its ideas in a convincing, profound way, you need convincing characters and a convincing story through which to convey those ideas. I'm thinking of books like The Left Hand of Darkness or Stranger in a Strange Land, and there are many more, that struggle with this. Being an "ideas" book doesn't excuse a science fiction novel of its flaws, the biggest of which is usually flimsy characters who often become mouthpieces for the author, or foils for these characters. To be a really successful ideas-driven science fiction novel, you need to tell a bloody good story with unforgettable characters through which the ideas come across more subtly. So what are the ideas inherent in Flashforward? The big one concerns free will, whether we have it, whether the future is as set as the past or is changeable (which would require the existence of free will), and so on. The main characters are Lloyd and Theo, though many others get their time as well. Lloyd firmly disbelieves in free will, which comes in handy because it removes his sense of guilt over the death of Michiko's little girl -- it was his experiment, and the idea of fault hangs over his head. On the other hand, Theo wants, needs, to believe in free will; otherwise, there is nothing he can do to stop his murder, which he learns from other people's visions of seeing the news will happen a couple of days before the day of the visions, in 2030. Some of the arguments weren't made convincingly enough -- or perhaps it's that my own opinions are quite firm and so theirs seemed shaky. Still, it's a worthy debate, and the scene that most drove it home was that of Theo's poor brother Dominic who has always dreamed of being a literary success. Instead, his vision saw him working in a tacky tourist restaurant. He recognised the owner, who owns it in the present, who also recognised Dom. He accused his brother Theo of ruining his dream, and that of countless other people as well. He's so depressed he plans his suicide. But it's a catch-22: If he goes ahead and kills himself, he will have proven that the future is changeable; but if it is changeable, he'll be dead and won't be able to pursue his dream after all. It's such a horrible, horrible position to be in that despite the book showing that the majority of people liked having a glimpse of their future and wanted another, I think it's a bad, bad idea. I sympathised the most with Dominic, and I know, I have an awful feeling, that if I saw a vision of my future I'd be just as devastated. I'd rather not know. I'd rather feel that I had some measure of control. I'd rather feel hope than free of responsibility. One thing that bugs me about books or movies set in the future, especially the near future, is the expectations that come across. This book was written in 1999 but set in 2009 (I honestly don't know why); even in the space of ten years, Sawyer expected a lot of humanity and our technological progress. Add another 21 years and we have hovering, computer-driven cars and all sorts of other fancy things. Maybe that's not that far-fetched, but in general I find that we move a lot slower than that. The speed of the 20th century is deceiving. I also get put off by stories like this, and H.G. Well's The Time Machine (I haven't read it but I did see the movie, and Lloyd himself refers to it), that go so far into the future that it gets scary. Not only that, but by following our current patterns, the future is bleak and miserable and Sawyer's depiction is no less so. The complete rape of the Earth is a common feature, with only humans surviving because, after all, we are the most important thing around, and it's a natural conclusion to the path of "progress" we've chosen. It's one of the themes, this perfectly ordinary and acceptable human-centric vision, of sci-fi that I really detest, one that almost justifies and makes acceptable our current abuse of our home. It's certainly here, in Flashforward, and it makes me scornful. Towards the end, as the mystery of Theo's impending death comes closer, the novel takes a slightly weird turn into murder-mystery race-the-clock drama, which has the wind taken out of its sails by the most hilarious "car chase" I think I've ever come across -- by golf cart, in an underground concrete ring. At times like these, Sawyer's pacing could have been improved, but I like the attempt at suspense.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Space

    My grief, this was fantastic. Seriously. I've never read a time-travel book before that didn't have time-travel in it. Here is a completely original idea, done with superb craftsmanship. The basic premise is that an experiment at CERN using the large halon collider produces a quirk, in which the entire human race is shown a flash from the future. The whole world simultaneously sees a two-minute glimpse of the world twenty-one years in the future. Now what do we do with that knowledge? Excellent p My grief, this was fantastic. Seriously. I've never read a time-travel book before that didn't have time-travel in it. Here is a completely original idea, done with superb craftsmanship. The basic premise is that an experiment at CERN using the large halon collider produces a quirk, in which the entire human race is shown a flash from the future. The whole world simultaneously sees a two-minute glimpse of the world twenty-one years in the future. Now what do we do with that knowledge? Excellent premise for a book if you ask me. And the entire book was done that way! Sawyer covers every aspect of every scenario you can think of. Very nicely done, sir. The only problem I had with the book was the last fifty pages. When they recreate the experiment. I thought it was fine having only done it once. Like Rendezvous With Rama, which left you wanting more, but also satisfied that the realistic perspective was perfectly enough, this book could have finished with them never truly knowing what caused the event to take place. Not only do they reproduce the experiment, but (view spoiler)[he gets a little carried away with it. Immortality? A few super-beings who get to watch the galaxies collide hundreds of billions of years in the future? Come on, now. It was moving along so nicely without having to add that bit of horse radish. (hide spoiler)] However, comma, I'm not going to take off points for that. Or maybe I will, but you won't see it. Because if I could give his storytelling 6 stars, I would. So let's say I did, and took off a star for that little hitch. Other than that, the story was perfect. Absolutely flawless. I really dug it. High-tech enough for the aspiring physicist, but lay enough to be easily understood, this was the best time-travel story I have read in a long, long time. I have added this to my favorites list. I shall be reading it again. Along with more of his books.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    After reading Paul Jones' time travel novel, Towards Yesterday (which is about what would happen if the whole world time traveled 20 years into the past), I had to read Flashforward (which is about what would happen if the whole world time traveled 20 years into the future). I'd seen the television series which, like too many sci-fi series, was canceled before there was a good resolution. I sort of hoped this would resolve the loose ends, but the only similarities seemed to be a character na After reading Paul Jones' time travel novel, Towards Yesterday (which is about what would happen if the whole world time traveled 20 years into the past), I had to read Flashforward (which is about what would happen if the whole world time traveled 20 years into the future). I'd seen the television series which, like too many sci-fi series, was canceled before there was a good resolution. I sort of hoped this would resolve the loose ends, but the only similarities seemed to be a character named Lloyd Simcoe and the concept of everyone getting a glimpse of their future. I found the book to be interesting in that parts of it practically wrote itself as the author pondered the what-ifs of the rules he'd set up for his time travel scenario. I especially liked the argument that if the future isn't changeable then everyone in the future would be spending the entire flash forward giving an instructional to their past selves about what to avoid in life and how to make their fortunes. However, I found the idea of the soul (for lack of better terminology) being able to time travel outside the body as an observer (among other things) to be a little hokey. I think it was ridiculously hokey w-t-f ending that brought it down from 5 to 4 stars for me the more I thought about it. But it was definitely an entertaining read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    David

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a fun science fiction novel. It explores themes such as destiny vs. free will, quantum mechanics and the Higgs boson, and knowledge of one's future. It's not about time travel, per se; it's about the consequences when humanity simultaneously gets a brief glimpse of their lives, 21 years in the future. The best part of the book is the interesting sidelines into physics. But I see a few inconsistencies in the plot. When a main character, Lloyd, views his future, he is unable to control his This is a fun science fiction novel. It explores themes such as destiny vs. free will, quantum mechanics and the Higgs boson, and knowledge of one's future. It's not about time travel, per se; it's about the consequences when humanity simultaneously gets a brief glimpse of their lives, 21 years in the future. The best part of the book is the interesting sidelines into physics. But I see a few inconsistencies in the plot. When a main character, Lloyd, views his future, he is unable to control his actions. His body simply does what it normally would do, 21 years in the future. But his thoughts are not at all normal--his thinking reacts in total surprise, for example to his reflection in the mirror. Since thoughts are collections of neuron firings, it seems inconsistent to lack control over one's body, but have control over one's thoughts. Another inconsistency is actually mentioned in the story, but it still seems unresolved. People learn exactly when the time jump will occur, so they could simply write on a piece of paper something like "buy Stock XYZ", and have the paper handy when the time arrives. So why don't they, especially since we learn that the future is not deterministic?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Interesting concept but frustrating to get taken out of the story for thinly veiled science lectures that didn't make sense for the characters having those conversations. An interesting application of quantum theory though, and I was intrigued by the immortality concept that gets mentioned in passing. Also, I'd be fine never reading the phrase "time immutable" ever again. He must use it 50 times. Interesting concept but frustrating to get taken out of the story for thinly veiled science lectures that didn't make sense for the characters having those conversations. An interesting application of quantum theory though, and I was intrigued by the immortality concept that gets mentioned in passing. Also, I'd be fine never reading the phrase "time immutable" ever again. He must use it 50 times.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nyssa

    There was a little too much science in the fiction for my tastes, but this was a pretty cool read. The ending of this novel was both pleasant and anticlimactic at the same time. That's also a good way to describe the overall feel and pacing of this book. No real highs, nor any real lows, just an even ride with a few bumps in the road and sites to see along the journey. There was a little too much science in the fiction for my tastes, but this was a pretty cool read. The ending of this novel was both pleasant and anticlimactic at the same time. That's also a good way to describe the overall feel and pacing of this book. No real highs, nor any real lows, just an even ride with a few bumps in the road and sites to see along the journey.

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