FlashForward - Robert J. Sawyer - NEW Book
Brand New Paperback
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 flash forward 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 "flash forward". 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 "flash forward", 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 "flash forward" 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 "flash forward" 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 "flash forward". Theo Procopides, meanwhile, discovers a fanatic attempting to sabotage the experiment blaming the LHC staff for his wife's death in the first flash forward. 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 "flash forward", 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.
About The FlashForward TV series:
FlashForward is an American science-fiction television series airing on ABC. It is loosely based on the 1999 novel Flashforward by Canadian science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer. It began airing on September 24, 2009. The pilot was written by David S. Goyer (who also directed) and Brannon Braga, from Robert J Sawyer's novel, with Goyer and Braga executive producing alongside Jessika Borsiczky Goyer, Vince Gerardis, and Ralph Vicinanza. lashForward originally was developed at HBO, which sold its option because it thought the show would be a better fit for a broadcast network. After purchasing the series and ordering a pilot ABC picked up FlashForward for thirteen episodes in May 2009. On October 12, 2009, ABC picked up the series for a full 22 episode season. Later the same day it was announced ABC had ordered a further 3 episodes for a 25 episode first season.
The Plot of the TV series
A mysterious event causes everyone on the planet to simultaneously lose consciousness for 137 seconds, during which people see what appear to be visions of their lives approximately six months in the future - a global “flashforward”. A team of Los Angeles FBI agents, led by Stanford Wedeck (Vance) and spearheaded by Mark Benford (Fiennes), begin the process of determining what happened, why, and whether it will happen again. Benford contributes a unique perspective on the investigation; in his flashforward, he saw the results of six months investigation that he had done on the flashforward event, and he and his team use those clues to recreate the investigation.
The team investigates a number of events related to the flashforward, including "Suspect Zero," who did not lose consciousness during the event, the sinister "D. Gibbons", and a similar mass loss of consciousness in Somalia in 1991. Meanwhile, personal revelations contained within the flashforwards occupy the personal lives of the principal characters. Mark Benford sees his alcoholism relapsing, his wife sees herself with another man, and other characters grapple with similarly unexpected or surprising revelations in their flashforwards.
Differences between the novel and the series
In the novel the protagonist is Lloyd Simcoe, a 47 year old Canadian particle physicist works with his fiancée Michiko, who has a daughter, Tamiko, who is killed as an out-of-control vehicle plows into her school. In the series, the episodes revolve around Agent Benford. However, a character named Lloyd Simcoe (portrayed by Jack Davenport) will appear on the show. The visions experienced by people in the novel take place 21 years in the future, in the TV series the interval is only six months.
About the Author Robert J Sawyer
Robert James Sawyer is a Canadian science fiction writer, born in Ottawa in 1960 and now resident in Mississauga. He has published 18 novels, and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Amazing Stories, On Spec, Nature, and numerous anthologies. Robert J. Sawyer has won forty-two national and international awards for his fiction, most prominently the 1995 Nebula Award for his novel The Terminal Experiment; the 2003 Hugo Award for his novel Hominids, the first volume of his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy; and the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for his novel Mindscan. He has had two additional Nebula nominations, ten additional Hugo nominations, and three additional Campbell Memorial Award nominations. His books have appeared on the major top-ten national mainstream bestsellers' lists in Canada, as published by The Globe and Mail newspape and Maclean's magazine, and they have reached number one on the bestsellers' list published by Locus, the trade-journal of the SF field. Translated editions have appeared in Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, and Spanish, and he has won major SF awards in Canada, China, France, Japan, Spain, and the United States.
In 2002, Robert J. Sawyer received Ryerson University's Alumni Award of Distinction in honor of his international success as a science fiction writer (Robert J. Sawyer graduated from Ryerson in 1982 with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Radio and Television Arts) On June 2, 2007, Robert J. Sawyer received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Letters, honoris causa) from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. Robert J. Sawyer's work frequently explores the intersection between science and religion, with rationalism always winning out over mysticism.
He has a great fondness for paleontology, as evidenced in his Quintaglio Ascension trilogy (Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner), about an alien world to which dinosaurs from Earth were transplanted, and his time-travel novel End of an Era. In addition, the main character of Calculating God is a paleontologist, Wake features a chase scene at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, and the Neanderthal Parallax novels deal with an alternate version of Earth where Neanderthals did not become extinct. Robert J. Sawyer often explores the notion of copied or uploaded human consciousness, most fully in his novel Mindscan, but also in Flashforward, Golden Fleece and The Terminal Experiment, plus the Hugo-, Nebula-, and Aurora-award-nominated novella "Identity Theft," its sequel the Aurora-winning short story "Biding Time," and the Hugo- and Aurora-award-nominated short story "Shed Skin."
His interest in consciousness studies is also apparent in his WWW trilogy, beginning with Wake, which deals with the spontaneous emergence of consciousness in the infrastructure of the World Wide Web. His interest in quantum physics, and especially quantum computing, inform the short stories "You See But You Do Not Observe" (a Sherlock Holmes pastiche) and "Iterations," and the novels Factoring Humanity and Hominids. SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, plays a role in the plots of Golden Fleece, Factoring Humanity, Mindscan, Rollback, the novelette "Ineluctable," and the short stories "You See But You Do Not Observe" and "Flashes." Robert J. Sawyer gives cosmology a thorough workout in his far-future Starplex. Real-life science institutions are often used as settings by Robert J. Sawyer, including TRIUMF in End of an Era, CERN in Flashforward, the Royal Ontario Museum in Calculating God, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Hominids and its sequels, and the Arecibo Observatory in Rollback.
Another Robert J. Sawyer hallmark is the mortally ill main character. Pierre Tardivel in Frameshift suffers from Huntington's disease, Thomas Jericho in Calculating God has lung cancer, and Jacob Sullivan in Mindscan has an arteriovenous malformation in his brain; one of the main characters in Rollback vividly suffers from that most fatal illness of all, old age. Robert J. Sawyer nonetheless is known for tales that end on an upbeat, and even transcendent, note. Robert J. Sawyer is unusual even among Canadian SF writers for the blatantly Canadian settings and concerns addressed in his novels, all of which are issued by New York houses. His politics are often described as liberal by Canadian standards (although he contributed a Hugo Award-nominated story called "The Hand You're Dealt" to the Libertarian SF anthology Free Space, and another called "The Right's Tough" to the Prometheus Award-winning Libertarian SF anthology Visions of Liberty). He holds citizenship in both Canada and the United States, and has been known to criticize the politics of both countries. He often has American characters visiting Canada (such as Karen Bessarian in Mindscan and Caitlin Decter in Wake) or Canadian characters visiting the U.S. (such as Pierre Tardivel in Frameshift and Mary Vaughan in Humans and Hybrids) as a way of comparing and contrasting the perceived values of the two countries.
Robert J. Sawyer's style is simple, with clear prose, that Orson Scott Card compared to that of Isaac Asimov. He has a tendency to include pop-culture references in his novels (his fondness for the original Star Trek, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Planet of the Apes is impossible to miss). In addition to his own writing, Robert J. Sawyer edits the Robert J. Sawyer Books science-fiction imprint for Red Deer Press, part of Canadian publisher Fitzhenry & Whiteside; contributes to The New York Review of Science Fiction; is The Canadian Encyclopedia's authority on science fiction; and is a judge for L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest.
In May 2009, ABC ordered 13 episodes of hour-long dramatic TV sereis Flash Forward for the 2009-2010 season, based on Robert J. Sawyer's similarly titled novel, after successful production in February and March 2009 of a pilot episode scripted by David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga, directed by Goyer, and starring Joseph Fiennes and Sonya Walger; Robert J. Sawyer is story consultant on each episode of the series and is slated to write one of the first-season episodes.
Robert J. Sawyer wrote the original series bible for Charlie Jade, an hour-long science-fiction TV series that first aired in 2005-2006, and he did conceptual work in 2003 for reviving Robotech. He has also written and narrated documentaries about science fiction for CBC Radio's Ideas series, and he hosted the 17-part weekly half-hour documentary series Supernatural Investigator for Canada's Vision TV, which premiered January 27, 2009 . He provided analysis of the British science fiction series Doctor Who for the CBC's online documentary The Planet of the Doctor, frequently comments on science fiction movies for TVOntario's Saturday Night at the Movies, and co-edited an essay collection in honor of the fortieth anniversary of Star Trek with David Gerrold, entitled Boarding the Enterprise.
Robert J. Sawyer has taught science-fiction writing at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Humber College, and the Banff Centre. In 2000, he served as Writer-in-Residence at the Richmond Hill, Ontario, Public Library. In 2003, he was Writer-in-Residence at the Toronto Public Library's Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy (the first person to hold this post since Judith Merril herself in 1987). In 2006, he was Writer-in-Residence at the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Also in 2006, he was the Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence at the Kitchener Public Library in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario, following on the Region of Waterloo's choice of Robert J. Sawyer's Hominids as the "One Book, One Community" title that all 490,000 residents were encouraged to read in 2005. In 2009, he was the first-ever Writer-in-Residence at the Canadian Light Source, Canada's national synchrotron facility in Saskatoon.[
Robert J. Sawyer is a frequent keynote speaker about technology topics, and has served as a consultant to Canada's Federal Department of Justice on the shape future genetics laws should take.
He has long been an advocate of Canadian science fiction. He lobbied hard for the creation of the Canadian Region of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The Canadian Region was established in 1992, and Robert J. Sawyer served for three years on SFWA's Board of Directors as the first Canadian Regional Director (1992-1995). He also edited the newsletter of the Canadian Region, called Alouette in honor of Canada's first satellite; the newsletter was nominated for an Aurora Award for best fanzine. In 1998, Robert J. Sawyer was elected president of SFWA on a platform that promised a referendum on various contentious issues, including periodic membership requalification and the creation of a Nebula Award for best script; he won, defeating the next-closest candidate, past-SFWA-president Norman Spinrad, by a 3:2 margin. However, Robert J. Sawyer's actual time in office was marked by considerable opposition to membership requalification and negative reaction to his dismissing, with the majority support of the Board of Directors, one paid SFWA worker and one volunteer. He resigned after completing half of his one-year term, and was automatically succeeded by then-incumbent vice-president Paul Levinson. Prior to resigning, Robert J. Sawyer's promised referendum was held, resulting in significant changes to SFWA's bylaws and procedures, most notably allowing appropriate non-North American sales to count as membership credentials, allowing appropriate electronic sales to count as membership credentials, and creating a Nebula Award for best script. Robert J. Sawyer has been active in other writers' organizations, including the Crime Writers of Canada, the Horror Writers Association, and the Writers' Union of Canada (for which he has served on the membership committee), and he is a member of the Writers Guild of Canada, which represents Canadian scriptwriters.
FlashForward - Robert J. Sawyer - NEW Book - Flash Forward
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