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Summary

A scientific experiment begins, and as the button is pressed, the unexpected occurs: everyone in the world goes to sleep for a few moments while everyone's consciousness is catapulted more than 20 years into the future. At the end of those moments, when the world reawakens, all human life is transformed by foreknowledge.
©1999 Robert J. Sawyer (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"This first-rate, philosophical journey, a terrific example of idea-driven SF, should have wide appeal." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Flashforward

Average customer ratings
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

It might help if you have a smattering of physics - but if you do- it's great! what would you do if you knew a snippet of the future - could you/would you change it? Excellent storyline, well read, good pace. I love SF that is possible.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

I was looking forward to listening to this book; it had attracted quite a few plaudits and the basic premise was an intriguing one. However, after a reasonably promising start, the book disappoints. The author does not seem to have the imagination to develop his ideas properly, and the characters and their relationships are just too formulaic to carry the plot and maintain the narrative momentum. As a result the book meanders around in the middle part and whilst it picks up a bit towards the end, the ending itself is laughably cliche. Nor does the narration save the book - too one paced and earnest with the various characters not adequately distinguished. As I said, disappointing: save your money.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Everyone is bad and science is magic

I'd say this book went off the rails but it never even found it's rails to begin with. The idea of Flash Forward is really great and has a lot of potential, however this book not only squanders all that potential but is in a real hurry to do it. Everything zips along but nothing actually happens, the individual plot lines capable of being summed up accurately in two or three bullet points and being just about as engaging as they were in the book. The science of the book is baffling and the author just seems to hope you'll never think logically about what is happening. The book makes frequent references to films but then feels compelled to spend a few minutes outlining the plot of "A Christmas Carol" to make sure you understood the reference. The characters are truly awful and at first this is fine but then you realise that they're not supposed to be awful. They're callous, self involved, spineless and overall they feel like they were written by an alien. They have no subtly, no nuance and they say "hag" and "crone" way too much. There's a weird 19th century feel about the book whenever it makes mention of race, not overtly racist but using verbiage that just feels antiquated and uncomfortable. Essentially everyone is bad, everything is under developed and the ending is one of the most tone deaf, out of nowhere endings I can recall in a book.

The narration is fine, it didn't feel like anything special. Occasionally there's some fun to be had with a book written in 1999 trying to predict the future but casual mentions of VCRs and the World Wide Web only get you so far. I like the flash forward idea enough that I want to give this a book a better review but I just can't do it. It's like if someone discovered an infinite energy source, used it to power a toaster and then promptly burnt the toast. Even if the toast had worked out really well it's still an incredible waste of potential and someone really needed to have more ambition.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Flash wo wo

I'm glad I've read, listened to this book. Totally different from the TV series of a few years ago. A good story although there was much sciencespeak. it was interesting to hear how the world would look in the future and even when you "see" your possible future, you could be in the wrong place at the right time.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great concept, enjoyable read, weak ending

The concept of the novel is great - an experiment at a particle accelerator produces a glimpse of 21 years into the future for the whole of humanity.

The book follows the story of the scientists as they attempt to work out what happened and follows the debate over whether the future is fixed or can be changed. One strand of the story follows a character as he tries to find out what happened in his life that meant his future self is not around in 21 years time.

For the most part the book is enjoyable and engaging and kept me coming back for more. The last third of the book ties up some of the loose ends but takes an odd direction for one of the characters and I didn't buy in to the end of his story.

Overall though I enjoyed the book and found it a real page turner.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A great listen!

I really enjoyed this book, the reader is very easy to listen to, and really brings the characters to life.

The first half of the book is the best as they deal with 'the event' but it does get rather far fetched towards the end, especially for a book which grounds itself as much as possible in believable physics. But don't let that put you off, it's still a great book!

The book was written in 1999 and is set in 2009, so although the setting is now in the past it was still a decade in the future when it was written, so it's interesting to note some aspects like the author suggesting that book stores had all turned into coffee shops with 'print on demand' facilities. One of the characters in 2009 expressed amazement at a 2030 vision of hard drive based recorders for TV programmes when they are/were perfectly commonplace in 2009!

Also while this takes some common elements from the TV series of the same name, the story is completely different so having watched/read one is not going to spoil the other!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wish I had read the book before seeing the TV series

This is the first book I have read by Sawyer and it is a must read for SciFi fans. I wish I listened to this before seeing the TV series's however it was the series that introduced me to his work.
I have had this book in my wish list for a few years and finally got it, I loved he twists and turns and the solid science.
He paints seems of place that I have been to with detail that really brought them to life. So much of the book feels solid and realistic that it absorbs you the way a really good story should.
Every time I stopped I could not wait to get back to the book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great listen

What did you like most about Flashforward?

The thing I liked most about this title is the well written story and the relatable characters.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Lloyd, the leading man if you like, is my favourite character. He has his flash forward/vision, and he has a bit of a tough time explaining what he saw to his partner.

What about Mark Deakins’s performance did you like?

Mark Deakins performance is great. Reads at a good pace and has a very clear voice. His voice changes for the different characters. There are characters from a few different countries, and Deakins handles the different accents very well. He even say a few French and German phrases.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I filled up a little when a characters child dies. During the chapters following the death they are having a hard time and the way she is written is very true to life.

Any additional comments?

Overall a great listen. Kept me engaged from the off right until the end.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

If you knew the future would you read this book?

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes but not unreservedly, Robert Sawyer writes very intellectually interesting books with great ideas and he writes them well. Sometimes though what he brings in terms of the ideas and the philosophy he looses in the emotional translation. If you love ideas, this book is a marvel, if you need emotions with that its a good book, If you want an emotional book its a waste of time.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Michiko, human and the best and most rounded character of all

What about Mark Deakins’s performance did you like?

Great characterisations, he got everything he could from the page and was very clear.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely not, its way too theory heavy, but 2+hrs would be ok.

Any additional comments?

Its a great book for soft sci-fi lovers who want ideas heavy books.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Strong Begining

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Fantastic concept and unique story which keeps the listener guessing.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the exploration of different scientific models and the characters desperately trying to make sense of it all.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The science chats in the lunch room where they they explain and denounce theories.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

10 hours is a bit long for one sitting but it could be done.

Any additional comments?

Strong beginning but unfortunately the build up is better than the ending and the listener is left with a sense of anti climax. I thought the build up was strong enough to make this a good book and a must listen if you like science.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Phelix_da_Kat
  • 23-07-08

How would you digest the fruits of knowledge??

You know how you sometimes wish you did something different after some event has happened.. well Robert J. Sawyer explores this here.

Based around a group of scientists who are conducting an experiment at CERN (the place where they have a massive collider running thats SO large it spans 3 different boarders/countries) in Switzerland. The results are not as they expect..

What would be your path in life if.. for 2 mins, you could see 20 years in to the future.. would you be with that person you thought you loved? If not, how would that affect you today... with that person you're with now... hhmm.. how does fore knowledge affect your daily decisions in life??

As with his other books - the science behind his stories are not outrageous, indeed they are scientifically sound (reference to SCI-FI weekly). Enjoy it, its a great story..

If you enjoyed this I would recommend one of his other books: Terminal Experiment.

46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • crazybatcow
  • 15-03-09

Should be called FAST Forward

The good points:
1) the "science" in the story is well conceived (and is similar in concept to that in Hominids) and is believable within the context of the story
2) there are fewer stereotypes than in Hominids and the politicking sometimes fits in with the story
3) the narrator is good

The bad point that sums up this novel: it's stupid

The premise could have led to a very interesting story - humankind could have tried to deal with what they knew about the future, or tried to replicate the flash forward, or investigate why or how it happened, etc. But what happens instead? It turns into a soap opera about a handful of characters who, regardless of their age or gender, behave how one would expect 30-35 year old males to act. The science fiction stops and the male version of a chick flick starts.

If you knew you were going to be murdered in 21 years time would you spend all your time and energy obsessing to figure out who did it NOW, considering that some of the significant players are still children? Would you fly across the world NOW to meet a woman you know you'll have sex with in 21 years time? Do you think there's even a slight chance that the powers that be would NOT re-use a "time machine"? If you say yes to any of these, then you might like this story.

Otherwise... save your money...

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lori
  • 07-08-09

The story drew me in

First of all, I must preface these comments by stating up front that I'm not a big science fiction fan. I do find the concept of time travel interesting so reading a synopsis and the fact that it was on sale drew me in. The premise, that during a scientific phenomenon, the entire world sees 21 years into the future was interesting. I thought, "How could a 2 minute glimpse of the future seriously effect the lives of today?" I suppose that is what grabbed me and the mental processes that go through everyone's mind as a result intrigued me. I listened to this one and found myself looking for excuses to get away from everyone so I could find out what happened next. The science portion of this book, which is actually relatively small, interested me much less than the human aspect. The end had a few bizarre twists that made me roll my eyes, but on the whole I enjoyed the read.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 14-05-11

real Science fiction

This is not Sci-Fi, this is Science fiction at it's best. I have not seen the t.v. series, but the book makes me want to watch. The miles past by so quick as I listened to this book. I usually like to listen to NPR in the morning and then listen to a book, but I kept finding reasons to leave NPR and listen to this book. The science is not over your head and RS keeps your interest all the way. It is not a time travel book, it is a glimpse into the future and the results that causes and there are some very interesting causes. RS is the Asimov of our age.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 23-04-09

Goes Nowhere

When I heard about the concept for this book and that they are going to make a TV show based on it (and even comparing its potential to Lost) I couldn't wait to get this book.

Never has so much potential for a good story been wasted on such mundane trivialities. Rather than something to explore or some kind of conspiracy to be uncovered the characters spend a novel that is more than twice as long as it needs to be deciding what they should do now that they think they know what the future holds.

I recommend saving your time and money, read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, wait for the TV show (to see if that will be better than the book, which won't take much) and go get something better. Heaven knows there's plenty of it on Audible and its not this book.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Simone
  • 06-01-13

Enjoyed Every Minute!

I like this kind of science-fiction and this was right up my alley!

I was hooked on the TV series when it aired in 2009 / 2010 and was left dangling at the end when it was abruptly cancelled. The last episode of the show was shot before it was known it would be cancelled; it depicted a second Fast Forward Event happening 20 years in the future… and then it was over! What a tease!

I didn’t realize at the time that the show was based on a book so I was excited to discover it and finally get some closure. Loved it!

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Janet
  • 26-05-09

Interesting but a Technical

This was a good read, there were only 2 problems . . .1) The scientific technical language will be over a lot of people's head and 2)The end went a little "out there" Otherwise, it was a good story

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • david j.
  • 21-09-09

Excellent Hard SF

This book was spectacular. I enjoy hard SF, especially stories that begin in contemporary times, and this book did not let me down. Sawyer does a great job at mixing murder mystery with the skiffy (sci-fi) foundation.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Rose
  • 22-11-09

Great premise, but disappointing follow through

I downloaded FLASHFORWARD because of ABC's new TV series of the same name. One of the best premises ever, lots of intriguing clues/possibilities, but the end left me cold. Too . . . silly. I became bored listening to the last chapters.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Book Fan
  • 07-07-11

Save your credits...not like the TV Show

While I thought this would be 'similar' to the TV Show, be forewarned that this story is very different. While usually the book is better than the show (take any Stephen King or Dean Koontz book as an example), the TV folk took an idea (by Robert Sawyer) and made it much, much better. Not to give any spoils here - this book is a flash forward 20 years (not 3) into the future and 85% is about Theo trying to solve his murder. Ok, see what's wrong here...3 years is somewhat imminent whereas 20 years who really cares. No FBI, no bad guys, no nothing but Lloyd, his fiance and Theo. Too bad there is not more here as I really enjoyed the TV Show with its many different plot lines - not much here other than a good idea (the flash forward) that someone else took and made much better. Save your credits for something else...

8 people found this helpful