Imagine if the entire world stopped for a moment in time and got a glimpse of themselves at some point in the future? Imagine the ramifications of that moment – not just the effects of being stopped in place, but what happens to ambition and free will when you know what’s already going to happen?
That basic idea was what hooked me on Flashforward, first the TV show, and then, just yesterday, the book by Robert Sawyer. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? People need hope, they need to believe they can succeed. What happens if you KNOW your efforts will be fruitless? Or on the flip side – if you know you will succeed anyway, how hard will you try?
Flashforward, the TV show, just finished airing its only season. It was extremely disappointing, a great idea that was executed poorly from start to finish. It didn’t deal with any of the issues I mentioned above, but it did ask a lot of questions it never got a chance to answer. As entertainment, it was ok, but it came up very short of fulfilling what I thought was amazing potential. So when I found out there was a book, I jumped on it.
I read the book cover to cover yesterday. I don’t think that’s a major accomplishment, I don’t believe it was particularly long (it’s hard to tell relative book size on a kindle), and I had a long flight with nothing else to do. I also, admittedly, could not put it down.
The book had me at go just like the TV show did because of the concept, but where the show became immensely complicated and overwraught with useless subplots, the book remained simple – almost too simple. The story is about Lloyd. There are some small subplots, but they’re fairly unimportant to the overall story.
The book does completely, and very, very thoroughly, explore the science behind the Flashforward. It explains in great detail how the Flashforward happened. If you think the idea of a multi-page discussion on how Schroedinger’s cat fits into the idea of “moving the perception of now” in time travel than this is the book for you.
…but you can see the problem. While I did find that discussion fascinating, I’m not sure how many people would. And by the time I got to the end of the book, the excessive scientific detail was starting to get grating.
Unfortunately, the book does not offer any insight whatsoever into the television show. The flashforward in the TV show could not have been caused by the same thing that caused it in the book, and there is no FBI, secret spies, CIA, Mark or Olivia. No ring, no test in Somalia, no military connection at all.
Everything is different. Lloyd is Canadian, and he works for CERN. There is a character named Demetrius, but he’s not Demetri from the show. The Flashforward was 20 years ahead, and the Matrix put together not only each person’s individual flashforward, but an entire timeline of what happened between now and the flashforward. Big and small, people were able to figure out what would happen. What companies went bankrupt, who was elected president, what revolutions would fail, what marriages would last, even the lottery numbers for the day, it was all revealed.
The book kind of fizzled out at the end, I don’t even know how to describe it, it almost became another book and twisted in a very unexpected, not really enjoyable direction. But up until that point, it was a very, very enjoyable read.
I still believe that this is an amazing concept that has yet to be executed well, and I would love to see it done. Flashforward the movie, maybe?