Saturday, January 2, 2010

FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer

This is the novel that the current television show is based upon. I think some people who are buying FlashForward, especially those who get the paperback with the cover that looks like it must be a novelization, are going to find the novel similar in basic story elements yet a very different and perhaps more thoughtful tale.

The novel was written in 1999 and features the science team at CERN, Switzerland, attempting to create a specific particle called the Higgs boson. Instead, they create a blackout of all humanity for over two minutes during which most people see themselves and the world twenty years in the future.

Once the world recovers from the shock of the FlashForward, they become obsessed with the event and the visions they had. Everyone wonders if the futures they saw were inevitable or could they be changed?

Researcher Theodosios Procopides who saw nothing at all, soon finds that he was murdered and he begins a two decades long effort to find out who killed him. He definitely is on the side of those who want to think they can change what they “know” will happen.

Lloyd Simcoe, who sees himself as an old man, and married to a woman he has never seen, is ready to accept the inevitability of a scientifically unchangeable future. Through Lloyd, we learn the many theories of time travel and we become unsure whether time is set or malleable.

Despite the destruction and loss of life that came with the first FlashForward, the world decides that it would like another peek at the future. If everyone is prepared and not flying, driving, or doing anything at all that could result in harm if they blacked out, they can safely see just a little more of that tantalizing future. The results of the second experiment are not what anyone expected, least of all Lloyd Simcoe.

I loved this book. It had intriguing science, and mystery/suspense elements that moved the plot right along. There is much to think about regarding fate and predestination. Although I always think we can change ourselves, I don’t think I would like a glimpse twenty years down the road. I prefer to be surprised by what happens next, in books and in life.

Visit Robert J. Sawyer's website for more information.

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