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Book Review: Flash Forward by Robert J. Sawyer

I first became aware of Flash Forward by Robert J. Sawyer as the ill-fated TV show of the same name, which I was enjoying immensely back in late 2009 until the first season went on hiatus for the televising of the 2010 Winter Olympic games. I  don't even recall if the remaining episodes were aired in Australia, I just heard that the show had been cancelled.

I know I didn't see all 23 episodes and I really wanted to know how it ended so when I stumbled across the novel that the series was based upon in a bargain variety store I had to buy it.

The basic premise of both the novel and the TV show is that, through some mysterious anomaly, everybody in the world blacks out at the exact same moment for 2 minutes causing thousands of injuries, accidents and deaths. If that wasn't enough, during the blackout people experience visions of their future.

Unfortunately that's all the TV series and the novel that it inspired have in common. Bearing in mind, at this point, it's been several years since I watched the series, I don't think very much of the book's story even made it into the show? From memory, I think some of the character storylines are present among many subplots that were added in for the series. The TV show focuses more on a Police investigation of the flash forward (and is the storyline I was particularly interested in knowing how it ended).

The book focusses on the first time CERN's Large Hadron Collider is switched on for its maiden experiment. Coincidentally, the entire world population blacks out for 2 minutes. From there the story centers around the scientists involved, their flash forward visions and their efforts to determine if the collider was really the cause of the global event.

It's an interesting concept, since prior to Hadron Collider being switched on, there were all kinds of possible doomsday scenarios being dreamed up when something that big and powerful was fired up.

Once I got over the realization that Robert J. Sawyer's novel wouldn't answer all my questions from the TV show, I thought it would, at least, answer the main one, what caused the Flash Forward?

Although I got an answer to my question, I'm not really sure if it's the same as the TV Show was leading to, since a number of phenomenon's that occur during the flash forward in the series aren't present in the book (such as birds falling out of the sky and some people being awake during the black out).

Despite that the book is a compelling read and tells an interesting if somewhat less layered story, rooted in plausible science fiction. The world's visions are a much further look into the future than the TV series (21 years as opposed to about 7 months of the TV show) and make the bold prediction that we'll have hover cars by 2030.

I did enjoy the book's version of the story. The main scientist characters are interesting and never get too bogged down with complex scientific speak. Much of the story revolves around each character trying to resolve their particular vision, more so than what actually caused the visions in the first place. It's the kind of science fiction novel that's accessible to people not really into the science part of science fiction.

It won't really answer any questions you have of the TV series but as a novel, it's a good read. Not too difficult, and keeps you engaged virtually every step of the way.


Comments

  1. I don't remember the TV show, but I used to like Sci-Fi films back in the 50s and 60s, especially the ones that are now known as the 'old ones' most in black and white. A lot of them were quite good, and scary with the aliens from 'Outer Space' looking really weird and scary! The special effects were good for the day.

    I was only early teens when I saw most of them, as school girls used to dress up to look older to get into the cinema for the age group, sometimes 16yrs, but I only just passed muster, as I didn't even look my age, never mind older!

    I've grown away from them now, and have never seen a Star Wars movie or the like. I can still enjoy 'Village Of The Damned' the original, and the remake I bought on DVD with modern special effects and a bit more gory but it was quite good. Don't know if I could settle into a book of sci-fi, but this has more of a story, so might.

    I don't think I could read a Harry Potter book, though I know many adults have, but I might have enjoyed the films if they'd been out when you were all younger. I do like Daniel Radcliffe both young and older.

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