Saturday, September 12, 2009


1999 Robert Sawyer

Sometimes novels more or less languish in obscurity, then all of a sudden they are everywhere at once. Such is the case with Flashforward. I ony recently picked up this book earlier this year from a bargain bin at Half-Price Books, mainly because it was cheap and I really liked the premise (again - start with a great premise, and the book practically writes itself).

In the book, hapless scientists running an experiment with the Large Hadron Collider inadvertently cause a spacetime shift wherein every human being objectively experiences their future self at a point some 20 years ahead of the present for roughtly two minutes. Note this is the same supercollider in the news last year - the one some folks thought might cause some collosal cosmic neutron fart to humanity's detriment and sued to stop it from being activated.

The actual story results from the ramifications that follow from such an experience. All of humanity has experienced a fragment of the future and returned to the present. Some saw nothing - because their future selves have already died before that point. Some see murders, stock market quotes etc, whatever their future selves where doing at that time. The themes that arise are primarily of free will and determinism - many don't particularly care for their future selves' condition and vow to change it. Some realize they've been killed and vow to survive. Sawyer is not a particularly strong character writer though, so none of these are especially compelling, but he sticks with the core premise enough to carry it through to the end.

As I started reading it an interesting coincidence was that the novel, written ten years ago, is set in almost the very same week I was reading it, in April 2009. No cosmic meaning here, I just thought it was a cool coincidence. I guess he was also somewhat optmistic as to how fast work on the LHC would progress... it was only turned on for an initial test last year.

And now it is the basis of a new ABC tv series. What is it about TV execs that takes them 10 fucking years to get with it? (Same thing with Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule, which I would plug if I didn't think it sucked). Of course they are taking all kinds of liberties with the characters and plot and it is only loosely based on the novel, but who knows it might still be watchable. I won't know though as I don't have cable. If it turns out to be worth a damn let me know.

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