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Flashforward [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert J. Sawyer
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 15 2000

The Aurora Award-winning novel that started it all!

FLASH FORWARD

Two minutes and seventeen seconds that changed the world

Suddenly, without warning, all seven billion people on Earth black out for more than two minutes. Millions die as planes fall from the sky, people tumble down staircases, and cars plow into each other.

But that’s the least of the survivors’ challenges. During the blackout, everyone experienced a glimpse of what his or her future holds—and the interlocking mosaic of these visions threatens to unravel the present.


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From Amazon

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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The control building for CERN's Large Hadron Collider was new: it had been authorized in A.D. 2004 and completed in 2006. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is the future inevitable? Oct. 2 2000
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although this isn't among Sawyer's best, the issue he raises is one worthy of further discussion. 'Free will' remains one of the most compelling of human ideas. With geneticists demonstrating the impetus given our behaviour by our DNA, what is inevitable and what is left to chance? What actually drives our behaviour and how far into the future might we be able to predict? If we can garner a glimpse of the future, will that future necessarily be fixed? Sawyer gives us one means of assessing that question, although the technique he uses here is questionable. His resolution is far more mechanistic than anything even the sociobiologists have suggested.
It's fascinating to read critiques of Sawyer's characterizations. Depicting persona is easily Sawyer's finest quality as a writer. His characters may not be charming nor even heroic, but they are certainly real people in every sense of the term. Lloyd Simcoe [how Canadian!!] can be readily condemned for his waffling, but the description of his mental gyrations are portrayed with fidelity. Theo's obsession with avoiding an untimely demise is hardly far- fetched under the circumstances. Even Cheung, a man of vast wealth and power, while not an original figure, is certainly conveyed from genuine models. What person of his status wouldn't undertake the realization of immortality if the chance presented itself?
Those critical of Sawyer's scientific basis are simplistic. His science is sound, but shouldn't be taken as providing any final resolution to the many questions he raises. The issues remain open until we've delved much further into ourselves and the universe around us. The real problem with this story is Sawyer's ultimate acceptance of the Frank Tipler model of the future of humanity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Do we have free will? Or is everything preordained? As a rationalist, I thought the former was true, but Sawyer makes a compelling case drawing on modern physics that the latter is really the case. His story is poised right at the edge of our real world. It takes place at CERN (a real particle physics lab in Europe) and involves the Large Hadron Collider (which CERN is really building) and echoes the concerns of a few years ago when we were worried about a plutonium bearing satellite possibly breaking up and polluting the Earth about just who has the right to make decisions that just might affect all of humankind. The characters---Swiss, Canadian, American, Japanese, Chinese---are all well drawn. Sawyer perhaps makes too much of a tangential parallel to the movie THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL but that's a minor quibble. This is a first rate novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sawyer's novel deals with one of the biggest questions of all: do we have free will, or are our lives destined to go a certain way regardless of our wishes. A philosophical problem, you say? Appropriate maybe for late-night dorm room arguments? Sawyer shows us that modern physics actually has much to say about this issue. He presents a very interesting plot that explores this question, bringing in block universes, quantum uncertainty, and more. And yet this is not just a theoretical exercise. Sawyer writes about real people (there is one scene in this book involving a little boy who, through the mechanism of Sawyer's plot, has ended up seeing an autopsy that I don't think I will ever forget). Very well written sci-fi, very thoughtful, very entertaining. Five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in quite awhile. Jan. 15 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is only the second novel of Sawyer's that I've read, but it was the best book I've read in about 3 years. I haven't been this mesmerized by a book since I read Reaper by Ben Mezrich. I usually only read for about an hour a day, but I read this book in 3 days(and I'm sort of a slow reader). I was hooked and didn't want to put it down. The premise was fascinating. I've always liked time travel stories and although this wasn't time travel per se, it was still excellent. The only part I didn't like was the next to the last two chapters where the main character(Simcoe) went through another Flashforward. Excellent book, I highly recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and well worth the effort April 27 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I commend Robert J. Saywer on his breath-taking ability to combine intricate scientific detail with remarkable moments of insight into humanity. I absolutely loved this book. I will probably read it several more times just to be able to experience it again. It is so easy to become emotionally involved in the events and there were times when I was literally on edge waiting for something to happen. I highly reccommend this book to anyone who loves science fiction. In some ways, it even transcends that genre and becomes a story about humanity and the preciousness of life above all else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantasy reader meets sci fi April 25 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was excellent! I don't normally buy sci-fi. I am strictly a sword and sorcery type of girl. But this book was given to me by a well meaning friend and I wasn't disappointed. The science lost me once and a while, but really the story line kept me interested. I would suggest this book to anyone sci-fi lover or not. I think that the author took some huge leaps with the science, but over all I think that was to be expected with this tpye of story. I enjoied the characters as well. Again I say that this was a book well worth reading.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars It's ok
The concept is one we've probably all thought of, and it's great that this book was written. Other than that, however, it was just another book. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Torstang
3.0 out of 5 stars TV Series is better
My wife and I really got into the ABC TV series based upon this book, but it kind of leaves you hanging because it was cancelled after the first season. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Trevor Howell
3.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, short on delivery
I was looking for closure after the anticlimactic TV series and at least found some in the book.
Unfortunately, the author seemed more interested in selling Canada as opposed... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Patrice
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating concept well developed
The concept of seeing a small glimpse of the future and all the complications such foresight would entail is developed into a strong sci-fi novel here. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2010 by Rodge
5.0 out of 5 stars So much better than expected !
I watched the handfull of episodes of the TV series and I liked the premises for the plot; then I checked for the book. What a difference ! Read more
Published on Dec 31 2009 by ada
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the tv series!
I purchased this solely because of the details on the book cover. I didn't know that it was going to be a new tv series this fall. Read more
Published on Sept. 14 2009 by Sheila J. Croome
1.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, horrific result
The main character had 2 main turning points in his life. One was done in summary. The last one -- the big one -- took place "on screen" but the author *would not tell... Read more
Published on June 22 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars It Could Have Been Better
I was writing my review for this book and realized, after writing it, that my initial review and grade was too high. Read more
Published on May 14 2004 by Trebuchet
4.0 out of 5 stars Living your life on "Hold"
Classic science fiction. "What if" one thing were different -- how would that change everything else? A very interesting book, well written. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2003 by Mona Albano
4.0 out of 5 stars Overreaching
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... Read more
Published on July 6 2003 by WFK
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