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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical and thought provoking
I bought the book after watching the American TV series, which was intriguing and complex, dealing with the aftermath of a global experiment which enabled everyone to have a glimpse of their future.

The novel, at first, disappointed: characters are changed, plot lines re-allocated and the focus shifted in the tv version to make it more dramatic. Unlike the...
Published on 13 Jun 2010 by Barbara Bellamy

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves
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...
Published on 3 May 2010 by Stella


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves, 3 May 2010
By 
Stella (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: FlashForward (Paperback)
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 rivited by all the connotations that flashforward threw up. Even the loss and devestation 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 whiney. 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 wraped up in a paragrah 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'
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical and thought provoking, 13 Jun 2010
This review is from: FlashForward (Paperback)
I bought the book after watching the American TV series, which was intriguing and complex, dealing with the aftermath of a global experiment which enabled everyone to have a glimpse of their future.

The novel, at first, disappointed: characters are changed, plot lines re-allocated and the focus shifted in the tv version to make it more dramatic. Unlike the series, which is from a security service angle, the novel shows the events from the perspective of one of the scientists, who struggles to come to terms with the implication of his vision - which shows him in a very different future than the one he's planning for himself and his fiancee.

Robert J Sawyer spends the first quarter of the novel in a mind boggling explanation of the theoretical physics underpinning the event - not for the faint-hearted. Wisely, the tv version only nods at this. Thereafter, he concentrates on the impact such a revelation has on the psyche: if we knew what the future held would we fight it, if we didn't like what we saw, or accept our fate as inevitable?
The novel wrestles with concepts of self determination, free will, fate and time as a dimension.

Don't buy the book if, like me, you want to find out how the tv series is going to end. Do buy it if you want to exercise your grey cells on some of the biggest questions we can ask about life's purpose.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Characters always come alive for Robert Sawyer., 16 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Flashforward (Hardcover)
This book is not just about the human consciousness leaping 21 years into the future. It's about the people to whom this happened. How do people who have been given a taste of their own future react to that knowledge? Humanity just had the "Fruit of Knowledge" thrust down its throat. Can we be the same after we gain that knowledge? Did that knowledge come at too high a price? Does freewill exist or is it just an illusion humanity concocted? Is the future immutable or can we make our own future? Sawyer deals with not only complex ideas, like these, but also complex emotions. He breathes life into his characters, then lets them take flight. Once I picked this book up, I could not put it down.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The excellent source material for the tv series, 8 Oct 2009
This review is from: FlashForward (Paperback)
This inevitable release to tie in with the new tv series is sure to have people rushing to read it in the hope of finding answers to the numerous conundrums and Lost-style red herrings that have already been provided. So a word of caution: this book was written ten years ago and the series is only based on the book's central idea. There are already massive changes of direction and focus from the book, and it's likely the direction may go further apart, especially if the series runs for a while. That's not a bad thing though as the central idea is one of Sawyer's best and can be explored in many ways.

What would you do if you knew what the future had in store for you? This is the intriguing question that some scientific technobabble involving quantum mechanics throws up. Free will versus apparent predestination is a fascinating concept. The predicament of the characters, some of whom learn how they'll die and when, and some of whom learn how their lives will turn out for better or worse, is an idea that grabs the attention. Some people give up and accept the inevitable, some people just give up and kill themselves, some people try to change the future, and some people even try to ensure the future they saw does happen.

These attitudes build up a picture of the various views of fate we probably all have and as such it represents the very best that science fiction can provide. Sf always works best when it takes a single idea and asks how the world will change because of it. What I found less successful was the science aspects. I've enjoyed a few Sawyer novels and for me they usually get bogged down with trying too hard to make the science believable, when it rarely is. Sawyer's writing style is also prone to being pedestrian, but on the other hand it's well within the norm for the modern bestseller style.

Some minor reservations aside, this is a fascinating novel of ideas and how we might react to knowing our fates. Whether or not the tv series takes the same direction, both are well worth exploring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can we change the future or are we fated !!!, 22 Sep 2014
By 
David H J Ashdown (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: FlashForward (Paperback)
An interesting concept about the possibility of changing a future glimpsed in a global event possibly caused by the LHC at Geneva after a high voltage experiment seemed to result in the entire world seeing 21 years into the future then dropping back to the present time. There was a lot of advanced theoretical thinking included in the book that would possibly go over many people's heads but was necessary to underpin the idea behind this novel. At the end you're left thinking about parallel universes ,free will and destiny - a brilliant read for all budding philosophers with loads of "food for thought".
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An effective, old-fashioned SF novel., 7 Dec 2009
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: FlashForward (Paperback)
A group of scientists conduct a cutting-edge experiment at the CERN facility on the French-Swiss border. At the precise moment the experiment begins, every single human being in the world blacks out. For two minutes they experience a lucid vision of the world as it will be in 2030, twenty-one years from now, before returning to the present. In those two minutes thousands of people were killed as planes crashed on take-off or landing, people fell down stairs and cars crashed.

For the scientists, other questions are raised. One saw himself with a woman other than his fiance, and becomes intrigued by her identity. Another saw only blackness and discovers through others' visions that he was murdered, and becomes obsessed with preventing this event. But can time be altered, and can - or should - the experiment be repeated?

FlashForward is a science fiction novel by the Nebula and Hugo Award-winning Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer, originally published in 1999. It's a high-concept book which the blurb terrifyingly likens to Michael Crichton, although thankfully baselessly. It also serves as the basis for the current new American TV show of the same name, the arrival of which was the catalyst for the book's recent re-release.

This is a very old-school SF novel where the author has come up with an excellent premise and sets about exploring it and setting up an interesting storyline based around the mystery, somewhat at the expense of characterisation, which is where I'm guessing the Crichton comparisons come into play. Luckily, the book actually features some interesting and sympathetic characters rather than just author-insertion heroes and strawmen opponents, but the characters are not developed very far, serving as they do more as a simple POV on the unusual scientific phenomena and its ramifications. This isn't an overt criticism - in-depth character-building is simply not the book's goal - but it does make the book feel a lot older than its ten years would indicate.

Putting that to one side, the book is a pretty good SF story, fast-paced with lots of intriguing ideas. One slight problem is that it was written in 1999 and set ten years in the future, so it's set this very year but a lot of the ideas in it (such as the holographic Windows 2009) haven't come to pass, dating the book before it's out of its first decade. However, some of the ideas discussed in the book, particularly at the end, can actually explain this, so it's not a huge issue.

The exploration of the premise is mostly well-handled, although it takes a while for the author to address some of the questions the reader may be asking immediately after the incident takes place (it takes quite a while before someone thinks about checking CCTV footage taken during the incident, for example), and in some areas actually goes into areas which the reader may not have immediately considered (for example, what happened to animals during the event?). The result is an interesting puzzle which the author provides some possible, but not necessarily definitive, answers for during the unexpectedly epic climax.

FlashForward (***½) is a readable and effective old-school SF novel which comes up with a great idea, explores it intelligently, and doesn't outstay its welcome. Those looking for in-depth characters or themes should probably look elsewhere, but for a decent and easy SF read, this book does its job well. It is available now in the UK and USA.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas, though only average in novel terms, 12 Oct 2014
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: FlashForward (Kindle Edition)
This novel by the Canadian SF writer concerns a blackout where everyone in the whole world suddenly falls unconscious for two minutes, resulting in car and plane crashes, patients dying in hospital and lesser injuries for many. During this two minutes almost everyone experiences a vision of their future 21 years hence (in 2030, the novel being set in 2009, though written in 1999). As with Sawyer's other novels, there is lengthy and interesting exploration of ethical ideas, here the clash between free will and determinism to which the glimpse into the future gives rise. Again, as in some of his other novels, there is quite a lot of hard science, here about particle physics that seems overdone at points. The characters are generally weak, and the two leading male characters, Lloyd and Theo I found irritating and rather self-centred, though they mellowed in the last part of the novel when the real 2030 came about.

Some of the 1999 predictions about technology in 2009 were off beam (everyone is still using VCRs, just more advanced ones), though the novel correctly predicts that Benedict XVI will be Pope!

There is a US TV series based on the central idea from the novel, though the characters are different (I just watched the first episode after reading this and it looks good).
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but not related to TV series, 17 Dec 2009
By 
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: FlashForward (Paperback)
A few reviewers have pointed out that Flash Forward the book does not contain anything from the TV show. Or rather the TV show took the concept of everyone seeing a future and discarded everything else. So no FBI. No CCTV footage showing people awake. Protagonists are from CERN and plot is set in France and Switzerland.

That said, I did enjoy reading the book although I found the characters a bit thin. This was exemplified when one of the protagonists wants to go public with an idea that his experiment caused the flash forward and the thousands of deaths. And his bosses let him! On another occasion, this scientist wants to rerun the experiment and is allowed to speak at the UN. And the UN lets him do it with scarcely any argument! I think the author could have chosen a different angle here.

The book started slow but the end was up there with Stapleton's Last and First Men in grandeur. Although Sawyer credits the Time Machine.

All in all. Forget the TV series. Enjoy a light read and suspend critical faculties.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Very technical and a bit on the slow side..., 18 Mar 2010
By 
Abigail Clarke "Books & Brains" (West Midlands, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: FlashForward (Paperback)
I would like to start by expressing how little I know about physics or anything relating to physics for that matter...

The concept of Flashforward is incredibly appealing. What would you do if you have a glimpse of your own future? And part of the story deals with humanity's response to exactly this.

But... I have to say it's very slow. Sawyer spends a great amount of time using tecnicalities and scientific jargin that personally I didn't have any idea about. For chuncks of the book I was completely lost on what he was talking about.

However, the characters are incredibly realistic and strong and the concept of the novel is incredible. I also have to express how much I enjoyed the last few chapters of the book and the action sequences were amazing.

I would recommend this book to any techies and people who are deeply into the whole concept of time travel. I wouldn't personally however, recommend this to fellow teenagers who don't know the first thing about physics! :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling FlashForward!, 11 Nov 2009
By 
This review is from: FlashForward (Paperback)
I decided to buy the book after seeing the first episode of the series (FlashForward) on television. I was too impatient to watch twenty-something instalments before finding out what caused the worldwide "blackout"! Reading the book, I was not disappointed! Although the story has a completely different start to the television series, and you find out early on what causes this event to occur, it does not lessen the suspense created by the writer throughout. Seeing the future challenges the characters in different ways, and also leaves the reader asking questions all the way through the book. On a personal level you wonder, "What would I do if I knew my own future?". Intellectually, you are stretched as scientific theories are presented to you. It is an excellent read, and my compliments to Mr Sawyer, who obviously has researched his subject well. Even now, I am still dwelling on the "What if?".
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FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer
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