Welcome to the April edition of Reading Rachael! This month I read a science fiction novel. This was an intriguing month for me, because although I watch almost nothing else but science fiction on television, I don’t read all that many science fiction novels. I decided to read a novel that was the basis for a television show I had watched and loved.
The science fiction novel I read this month was Flash Forward, by Robert J. Sawyer. The television show of the same name premiered in 2009 and was sadly cancelled after only one season. It was a great show, based on an even better book, but the premise is complicated, and sadly (IMHO) network executives almost never favour quality content.
“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 twenty years into the future. At the end of those moments, when the world reawakens, all human life is transformed by foreknowledge.”
It was very interesting for me to read the novel after having seen the show. There are several salient differences between the novel and the television show, and as far as I can tell, all of the differences are the result of pacing, and lack of ‘action sequences’ in the novel. In the television series, people’s consciousness is transported only a few months into the future. The protagonist is an FBI agent who has to race to prevent the ominous events he has viewed in his ‘flash forward’. The events of the television series take place in a six month period, which also adds an urgency to the show which the novel does not share.
I’ve read a number of novels by Robert J. Sawyer, including his Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy, and the novel Calculating God, and have enjoyed his work immensely. Flash Forward was no different, exploring the moral implications of glimpsing possible future events, for only a few seconds at a time. This novel examines important themes, such as perspective, self-fulfilling prophecy, and how we make life choices.
These themes are also explored in the television show, but it was interesting for me to see the differences in the book. Most of the main characters in the novel are scientists, or characters who explore the issues from a philosophical perspective. There was virtually none of the gun-waving, conspiracy theory shenanigans seen in the television series. It made the book and the television series seem to me to be two separate entities, which allowed me to fully enjoy the novel without feeling like I was being influenced by, or disappointed by the television show.
The novel Flash Forward is a great read for anyone who enjoys science fiction because of its ability to explore fundamental questions about humanity and society. The ability to see the future, and what one might do with that knowledge is a fascinating topic, and Robert J. Sawyer masterfully tackles the topic in the novel Flash Forward. I highly recommend this novel!
Have you read Flash Forward? Have you seen the television series? I’d love to hear your thoughts!