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Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer

Flashforward (1999)

by Robert J. Sawyer

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1,691904,222 (3.53)83
  1. 10
    Sphere by Michael Crichton (SFdolon)
    SFdolon: Best Michael Crichton book, a sorry about the repercussions of an unexpected scientific discovery.

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Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
Well, I enjoyed the novel very much - the writing style is regular, the chapters not too big or too short and when there is action, it is fast-paced. This is quite an interesting plot, with contemporary plot and some future-related scenes. Characters are well drawn and even the ones that we shouldn't like end up being likeable too. This novel is easy to read and makes us think about the future, life choices and what we would do in such situation. In fact, it is as much about the characters as the science behind it. I don't have a scientific background but I enjoyed learning a few things about the CERN and what it stands for at an international level. This is a great read and I recommend it without reservations. ( )
  soniaandree | Aug 17, 2017 |
Canadian, philosophical/scientific journey; effect of foreknowledge
  drbrendan | Sep 28, 2016 |
Techy books interest me to a certain extent, but my attraction to this book was to see how the author resolved the important questions raised.

Almost immediately “Flashforward” opens with an unexplained disaster. Everyone in the world has blacked out and most people have had a realistic “dream.” Unfortunately, cars crashed, doctors blacked out in the middle of surgery, landing planes crashed, etc., and as a result many people died. After comparing “dreams,” it was discovered that everyone had a vision of their own life 21 years in the future. The visions are consistent in content, and life on earth two decades into the future are pieced together from the various accounts. These episodes are called flash forwards, and websites are created to help people share their flash forwards with others. Some people experienced nothing for the two minutes of the blackout and it is assumed that these people will die in the next 20 years.

The people in “Flashforward” had mixed feelings about knowing their futures. The question they face is whether they can change the future they saw.

I found the end of “Flashforward” disappointing from a Hollywood viewpoint. The book raises many philosophical and scientific questions, and if you are interested in considering those questions, then this is a great book. On the other hand, if you are looking for strong character development and plot resolution, the book lacks that. I don’t understand physics beyond simple mechanics and electricity, so I don’t know if the science discussed, and there is a lot of physics in this book, was well presented or not. So, I could see this book being used in a course that analyzes science in literature. The philosophical questions of knowing and changing the future would be interesting to discuss in a class also, maybe for first-year college students.

(audible.com) I like to say something about the narration of books I listen to, and my first thought was that I had no thoughts about this reader. The reading by Mark Deakins was so natural that I was able to concentrate on the story with no distraction. I look forward to other books read by Mark Deakins. ( )
  MurphyWaggoner | Apr 1, 2016 |
Typical intelligent writing from Sawyer. I loved the little details. A good sci-fi and kind of a detective novel rolled into one. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
Flash Forward - Robert J Sawyer
The protagonist is Lloyd Simcoe, a 47 year old Canadian particle physicist. He works with his fiancée Michiko, who has a daughter, Tamiko. Another researcher and friend is Theo Procopides.
The fallout from the flashforward occupies much of the first part of the book. The consequences include the death of Michiko's daughter as an out-of-control vehicle plows into her school. Oddly, no recording devices anywhere in the world functioned in the present during the event. Security camera tapes show noise and even recording devices in television studios show nothing until the event is over. This is interpreted as proof of the observer effect in quantum theory. With the awareness of the entire human race absent, "reality" went into a state of indeterminacy. When the awareness returned, reality collapsed into its most likely configuration, which was one in which moving objects had careened out of control in the direction they were already headed.
The deaths of several characters are forecast by the "flashforward". Anyone who did not experience it is assumed to be dead in the future. This includes Theo Procopides. Some people report reading about his murder in the future. However as time goes by it seems that the events of the future are not predestined. Some people, depressed by their visions of their own dismal futures, commit suicide, thereby changing those futures. The story begins to take on the features of a murder mystery, as Theo attempts to prevent his own murder. His brother Dimitrios, who aspired to be a writer but saw himself just working in a restaurant in the future, is one of the suicides.
At CERN, the scientists plan a repeat of the run, but this time warning the world of the exact time, so that preparations can be made. However, there is no "flashforward", but the LHC does find the Higgs boson.
One of the consequences of the event is that Simcoe is put on a list by a billionaire who is researching practical immortality.
Soon after this discovery, the riddle of the "flashforward" is solved. At the same time as the LHC was running, a pulse of neutrinos arrived from the remnant of supernova 1987A. The remnant is not a neutron star, but a quark star, a superdense body of strange matter. Starquakes cause it to emit a neutrino pulse at unpredictable intervals. As the date at the other end of the "flashforward" approaches, a satellite is launched into an orbit close to that of Pluto, from where it can give several days warning of another neutrino pulse arriving. The neutrinos travel slower than light, since they have mass, and thus a radio message (though the book uses the notion of "faster-than-light communication" involving tachyons) from the satellite will arrive at Earth before the neutrinos do. The intent is to run the LHC again and create another "flashforward".
Theo Procopides, meanwhile, discovers a fanatic attempting to sabotage the experiment blaming the LHC staff for his wife's death in the first flashforward. In a chase sequence through the tunnels containing the LHC equipment, he is able to stop this, preventing his own murder in the process.
It turns out that the neutrino pulse arrives on the exact day which everyone experienced during the original event. The world stops and rests at the appointed time, but this time nobody experiences anything, except for a few. Simcoe experiences a vision of himself moving through time for billions of years (suggesting that the next neutrino burst would be billions of years in the future and last for one hour), his consciousness existing in different artificial bodies, presumably supplied by the immortality researchers. He is aware of the billionaire being with him in some of these situations.
When the event is over, there is general puzzlement over why nothing happened. Simcoe comes to realize that the effect connects two periods of quantum disturbance occurring within the lifetimes of the individuals involved. Since there will be no more events in the lifetimes of any living people, nobody experience a "flashforward", except for those, like himself, who are secretly associated with the immortality project. However, when he is offered the treatment after his vision, he decides to change the future yet again and refuses it. It is implied that Theo will be offered the treatment as well. The novel ends with Theo contacting Michiko in the hopes of living out the rest of his life with her.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
Although uneven, the book was a more rewarding experience for me than the television series. If you enjoyed FlashForward on television, you should probably read the book as it delves far more deeply into many of the issues raised by its core concept.
added by sdobie | editSF Site, Kit O'Connell (Feb 1, 2010)
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"He who foresees calamities suffers them twice over." --Beilby Porteus

""Free will is an illusion. It is synonymous with incomplete perception." --Walter Kubilius

"Lost time is never found again." --John H. Aughey
For Richard M. Gotlib

Richard and I first met in high school in 1975. Back then, we each envisioned very different futures for ourselves. But one thing seemed absolutely clear: no matter how many years would pass, we'd always be friends. It's now a quarter-century later, and I'm delighted that at least that part turned out exactly as planned.
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The control building for CERN's Large Hadron Collider was new: it had been authorized in A.D. 2004 and completed in 2006.
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Book description
Suddenly everyone in the world loses consciousness for two minutes. Planes fall from the sky, there are millions of car crashes, millions die. And when everyone comes round they have had a glimpse of their life in the future. When it awakes the world must live with the knowledge of what is to come. Some saw themselves in new relationships, some saw exciting new technologies, some saw the stuff of nightmares. Some, young and old alike, saw nothing at all . A desperate search to find out what has happened begins. Does the mosaic of visions offer a clue? What did you see?
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812580346, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:53 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A science experiment goes wrong, giving everyone a glimpse of the future. One man learns a rival will steal his wife, another that he will win a lottery, a third that he will be murdered and has 20 years to find the killer. A look at the repercussions of knowing the future.… (more)

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