A weblog, mostly of book reviews, by Jim Henry

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7 September 2003

I've been busy with work in the last few months, working long hours and most weekends. Did not go to DragonCon, either; CoreCard had a major delivery to a customer Labor Day Weekend, and, though not one of those travelling to the customer site, I was on call to support those who were. I've read a number of books since my last weblog entry in June, but most of them already too long ago to review well. Anyway:

In Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor, 1999), a high-energy physics experiment at CERN's new Large Hadron Collider somehow causes everyone on Earth to experience about two minutes of their own life about twenty-one years hence. Two minutes of universal inattention to present concerns causes a huge number of deaths and injuries in automobile accidents, interrupted surgeries, and so forth; but long after the dead are buried and the survivors patched up, there's still a lot of work to do in figuring out what happened, why, and how. Some start a project to collect and correlate people's accounts of what they saw of the future, and figure out whether they're consistent. There's also much debate and uncertainty for a while about whether this consistent everyone (or rather those who will still be alive twenty-one years later) has seen is inevitable or whether it can be changed.

There are several interesting main characters, and the particular futures (2009 and 2030) sketched are not bad near-future speculation; but the main interest is the story of how the several main characters individually react to their visions or lack of same. Theodosios Procopides, one of the physicists who designed the experiment (attempting to isolate the Higgs Boson) which apparently caused the Flashforward had no vision of his own future experiences; and later, in hearing other people's experiences, learns that he is due to be murdered just a couple of days before the date the visions relate to. He sets out to find out all he can from the future visions of people who saw news reports about his murder and try to prevent it if possible. Lloyed Simcoe, the other of the pair who designed the experiment, sees himself apparently married to someone other than his current fiancée Michiko Komura. He believes the future is fixed, and so he's inclined to break off the engagement now rather than set himself and Michiko up for a divorce sometime in the next twenty years. The characters are deep enough to make these scenarios work, but not much more.

I won't say anything of the latter parts of the book, except that there are more surprises to come, consistent with and growing naturally out of the opening. I enjoyed Flashforward but probably won't read it again.


The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1961

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