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Flashforward Paperback – September 1, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 223 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What would you do if you got a glimpse of your own personal future and it looked bleak? Try to change things, or accept that the future is unchangeable and make the best of it? In Flashforward, Nobel-hungry physicists conducting an unimaginably high-energy experiment accidentally induce a global consciousness shift. In an instant, everyone on Earth is "flashed forward" 21 years, experiencing several minutes of the future. But while everyone is, literally, out of their minds, their bodies drop unconscious; when the world reawakens, car wrecks, botched surgeries, falls, and other mishaps add up to massive death and destruction.

Slowly, as recovery efforts continue, people realize that during the Flashforward (as it comes to be called) they experienced a vision of the future. The range of visions is astounding--those who would be asleep in the future saw psychedelic dream landscapes, while others saw nothing at all (presumably they'd be dead). But those who saw everyday life 20 years hence have to come to grips with evidence of dreams forsaken (or realized). Soon, the physicists who caused the Flashforward are struggling to help the world decide whether the future is changeable--and whether the experiment is worth repeating. Robert J. Sawyer has captured a truly compelling idea with Flashforward, and he fully explores what such an event might mean to humanity. Fans will find this to be his best work to date, although the ending seems rushed after a detailed buildup. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A science experiment that unwittingly shuts down all human consciousness for two minutes is the catalyst for a creative exploration of fate, free will and the nature of the universe in Sawyer's soul-searching new work (after Factoring Humanity). In April 2009, Lloyd and Theo, two scientists at the European Organization for Particle Physics (CERN), run an experiment that accidentally transports the world's consciousness 20 years into the future. When humanity reawakens a moment later, chaos rules. Vehicles whose drivers passed out plow into one another; people fall or maim themselves. But that's just the beginning. After the horror is sorted out, each character tries desperately to ensure or avoid his or her future. Trapped by his guilt for causing so much destruction and driven by a need to rationalize, Lloyd tries to prove that free will is a myth. Theo discovers that he will be murdered and begins to hunt down his killerAtempting fate as in the Greek dramas of his ancestors. Some people start on their appointed roads early, others give up on life because of what they've seen. Using a third-person omniscient narrator, Sawyer shifts seamlessly among the perspectives of his many characters, anchoring the story in small details. This first-rate, philosophical journey, a terrific example of idea-driven SF, should have wide appeal. (June) FYI: Sawyer is the president of the Science Fiction Writers of America.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076532413X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765324139
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Heather D. Couillard VINE VOICE on December 29, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the very near future of 2009, two physicists working on a complicated experiment accidentally thrust the collective consciousness of the entire world ahead twenty-one years. Although the "flash forward," as it's later named, lasts only minutes, the aftermath is catastrophic. Not only are millions of people killed in accidents caused by their sudden and brief departure from the present (i.e. plane and car crashes, falls down stairs, etc.), but those who survived find themselves emotionally rocked by their respective (and sometimes shared) glimpses of the future. The two scientists are left to piece together what happened, while also trying to figure out whether or not the future they all saw was fixed or just one of many possible outcomes.

I enjoyed this book very much: the story itself was fascinating, and thought-provoking, and the author is clearly an intelligent man with an intriguing imagination. However, I had a big problem with the execution of the story; Mr. Sawyer's a great storyteller, to be sure, but an awkward, almost amateurish writer. While the book was an easy, accessible read, I found it to be equally as clunky and frustrating in parts -- especially his shockingly excessive use of the word "doubtless," which was so abundant that it became distracting and, toward the end, grated on my every nerve. (How his editors let it go to press with such a glaring flaw is beyond me.)

Still, I recommend this book to anyone who's interested in time travel and is looking for some light sci-fi reading. And, in spite of my feeling toward the author's technical skill as a writer (or lack thereof), the story itself was compelling enough to make me consider the idea of reading some of his other books.
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Format: Paperback
If you are a fan of the TV series, DO NOT buy this book. I am not saying this so that you can avoid the possibility of learning something you shouldn't know about what's coming up in the series. I, and I'm sure others too, started reading it with that very same motive once the mid-season hiatus took place. And I can assure you, you will NOT learn ANY of the series' many secrets if you read this book. The two are as different as can be, and the only character from the book that has any prominent role in the series is Lloyd Symcoe, and his character and its circumstances are VERY different. The creators of the TV series simply took the initial idea from the book but have developed characters and situations that are entirely unique. After getting hooked on the TV series, I must say that I find the book to be very disappointing. The series drives on intrigue, suspense, action, mystery, but the book is grounded in very dry science. The selection of the main character says it all: the TV series puts a federal agent at the heart of the story and watches as he tries to uncover secrets (a very wise choice), while the book revolves around the scientist who caused the "flash forward" and his team of scientists. I can't spell it out any clearer. While I do not wish to put down the novel or the novelist (who I applaud for his capable handling of very highly scientific concepts), I am more impressed by the way the show's creators have adapted it into something much more. This is a very good example of how to take someone else's fascinating idea and turn it into something that a greater audience could appreciate.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A good idea, but handled wrong. Much of it isn't very believable, and I've read some pretty far-out stuff that was made believable by skilled authors. The characters are definitely cardboard cutouts, as many other reviewers have stated. I'm not even sure the author had a clear idea who they were. (You get the idea that Lloyd Simcoe is generally reserved/timid in the beginning of the book, but then later on he walks out on a press conference, unflustered, saying something like, "That's it. I'm outta here." I think I laughed out loud at that.) The dialogue is just sad, and there's very little action. The writing is pretty terrible too, with cliches littered here and there---and a decent editor was certainly called for.

I thought the concept was good. But, as I said, the execution was poor. I would have liked to have seen how everyday citizens reacted to their future visions, and how they tried to change them or help them come to fruition. Less pseudoscience, more fiction.
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The one thing that made this novel a somewhat mixed pleasure is the authors need to explain all. Not only the question why and how a flash forward is possible, if we live in a predetermined universe or if we can change our fate, but to top it with his vision about the fate of humanity.
That last piece was a) totally unnecessary for the rest of the story, but b) left a very stale taste in the mind. In other words: it diminished an excellent book to (just) very good.
I observed the same thing in "Calculating God". If Sawyer just knew when to stop, it would IMHO make his novels so much better. A similar story is told by James Hogan in "Thrice upon a Time" and since it is much more focused, it is a better novel.
In this one the potential is there for so much more, but the author overreaches. In a way he was on flash forward too...
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