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April 12, 2010

FlashForward

by Robert J. Sawyer

The book which inspired the popular TV seriesFlashForward. The television series, based on the premise that the entire world blacks out at the same time, each individual glimpsing a snapshot of their own futures, really captured my imagination. The book differs in a number of ways, not least in the timescale for the flashforward itself; the leap into the future is a couple of months for the TV series, whereas the visions in the book are some 21 years into the future.

An experiment with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN appears to be the cause of the time displacement phenomenon. The blackout is worldwide and simultaneous, and the death toll is considerable. And yet when the scientists at CERN ask the UN for permission to repeat the experiment, the answer is a resounding yes, with people all over the world keen to have another peak at their futures. But what do the visions mean? Are they real? Can the future be changed? Do we have free will or is the future already written?

The book throws up some interesting questions about free will, and the technical jargon doesn’t get in the way of a great story.

James’ out-of-five star rating: ****

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