FlashForward – Robert J Sawyer

This is the book which inspired the recently cancelled TV series which I mentioned recently. I actually bought this not long after the series began, but held off from reading it until the TV version was over. I needn’t have waited, as apart from the general concept and some character names, the two forms of the story are quite distinct.

The book is a quick read, and far less convoluted than the TV show, but it’s none the worse for that. In essence, just as an experiment to attempt to find the Higgs Boson starts at the Large Hadron Collider, everyone in the world blacks out, and most of them see visions of their lives in 2030 (the TV series used a much shorter time scale here). This causes death and destruction world-wide, as cars and planes crash, people fall down stairs and much more…

Did the experiment actually cause the blackout? Or was there another cause? Is the future fixed, or can it be changed?

Just as in the TV series, the story bends and twists around these questions, but unlike the cancelled show, it does come to a conclusion, and some degree of explanation. Worth a read whether you enjoyed the TV version or not.

An interesting note: the book has a copyright date of 1999, and is set in 2009. Most of the contents bear that out – extrapolation of technology that isn’t quite right, such as people still using newsgroups, submitting summaries to search engines and expressing surprise that a banner ad could be placed within a day. But either Sawyer was remarkably prescient, or there’s been a swift bit of editing for this edition – in various news items in the story, he refers to Pope Benedict XVI….