Well this was a bit of a letdown. Robert J. Sawyer is the author of the Neanderthal Parallax books I love so much, and I was really looking forward to reading more of his books. Flashforward is one of his novels, and was also the basis for the TV series that appeared in 2009 but was cancelled after 2010. I didn’t let that bother me going into the book, because a TON of good shows have gotten cancelled way too early (Terra Nova, Pushing Daisies, Firefly…).
Flashforward starts with a really interesting concept – suddenly all seven billion people on the planet lose consciousness for two minutes and 17 seconds – millions of people die as cars crash and people fall down wherever they are. But within those 137 seconds, everyone got a glimpse of what their future would be like in a couple of decades and now the race is on to try to figure out just what that means before it destroys the present.
Very cool premise, right? It was cool to see what the characters saw in their futures and how pieces of everyone’s visions started to come together. And honestly, I think I would have really enjoyed this book if the characters had been different. The main character is Lloyd Simcoe, a physicist working at CERN with the Large Hadron Collider. He was kind of a close-minded jerk, at least after seeing his glimpse of the future. He was constantly trying to be very righteous, even when it made no sense. He also has some opinions regarding quantum physics and the multiverse theory that I disagree with – of course this book was written in 1999, so maybe his opinions are supposed to reflect the popular opinion in physics then. But I’ve already studied some of that myself, so when he was being absolutely stubborn and insisting that no matter what, HE was right – I kind of wanted to punch him.
Also, there were a lot of little snide anti-U.S. remarks in the book. Now, I don’t think the U.S. is perfect by any means and given the chance, I’d love to go visit Canada or Europe. A lot of the main characters in the book was Canadian, Greek, French, etc… and Robert J. Sawyer himself is Canadian. And like I said, there was a lot of “the U.S. sucks” kind of stuff being said and normally that doesn’t bother me, but it was a lot and really blatant and got really annoying. For instance:
“He was born in Canada. And Canadians didn’t like guns, either – they had no Second Amendment, or whatever damned thing it was that made Americans think they could go around armed.”
Asshole. I understand that this is somewhat of a hot topic right now due to that horrible shooting in Colorado, but I absolutely support the right to bear arms - especially since I’m a female. There were also some snide remarks about the U.S. having a crappy infant mortality rate (which we do, but again, it was said in an asshole way) and a couple other instances. Eventually, the American-bashing got old and I got sick of seeing SO MUCH of the author’s politics and feelings making an appearance, particularly when it really added nothing of relevance to the story.
Anyways, I suppose my main problem with this book was that I disagreed with the main characters on everything. And again, I’m a big girl and I can take a difference of opinion, but it’s that these characters were so freaking stubborn and jerky about it. It just really got in the way of the actual story. I’m still going to try some of the author’s other books (I have Calculating God on my shelf), but this was a disappointment.
I do kind of still want to watch the one season of Flashforward the show, though from what I read on Wikipedia it’s very different from the book. But maybe that will be a good thing.
Sarah Says: 2 stars