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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  15,256 ratings  ·  1,523 reviews

Two minutes and seventeen seconds that changed the world

Suddenly, without warning, all seven billion people on Earth black out for more than two minutes. Millions die as planes fall from the sky, people tumble down staircases, and cars plow into each other.

But that’s the least of the survivors’ challenges. During the blackout, everyone experienced a glimpse of
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 15th 2000 by Tor Books (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,256 ratings  ·  1,523 reviews

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Nov 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf, audiobook
There are so many ways I could pay tribute to this book (audiobook), which was an awful piece of writing, but an entertaining way to spend ten hours in a car.
Perhaps a drinking game (NOT in the car):
RULE: Drink every time a character is identified by his or her hair color.*
RULE:Drink every time someone uses the word "indeed" in an internal monologue.
RULE: Drink every time someone answers their own question within an internal monologue a la "Yes? Yes!" or "No? No!"
RULE: Drink every time a charact
Book vs TV series: review (mostly) written in 2010

The only thing this shares with the TV series of the same name is the concept of everyone in the world simultaneously blacking out for two minutes, during which they have a “flashforward” of their future. In the TV series that is 6 months hence; in the book it is just over 21 years hence, so the implications are very different. (However, the second series, which was never made, was going to have a 20-year jump.)


It’s a fantastic premise and
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I don't know why I have postponed so long to read another of Robert J. Sawyer's works. I very much liked The Terminal Experiment , and this one kept me glued to the pages from the beginning to the very end.

It's year 2009; at CERN is conducted an experiment which is supposed to demonstrate the existence of the Higgs boson. Not only the experiment fails, but the collateral result is totally unexpected: all humans experience a blackout for about 2 minutes, time in which they had visions of thems
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
“There were, of course, cries of outrage in the press—editorials about scientists messing with things humans were not meant to know about.”

Ah! Where would we be if scientists don’t mess about, but who is to say what are the things humans were not meant to know? Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein implies that Victor Frankenstein messed with things humans were not meant to know about, and broken necks ensue. Flashforward takes the opposing view that scientists need to experiment (mess about) for the sake
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Two minutes and seventeen seconds. A small amount of time for most of us, but within the confines of Robert Sawyer's fantastic science fiction novel FLASHFORWARD, 2:17 becomes more than a number; it becomes the insight to what the future holds. You see, 2:17 is the amount of time humnaity checked-out. All seven billion. As you can guess, choas ensued if you were one of the unlucky ones awake at the time. Planes crashed. Cars drove themselves. I can only guess what that unlucky skydiver experienc ...more
Dec 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
For me, Robert J. Sawyer novels are either hit or miss. They're either incredibly brilliant and I can't turn the pages fast enough ("Rollback") or I can't wait for the final page to turn just to be done with the novel ("Homonids"). And I'll admit I picked up this one because ABC has put it on the fast-track for development for a potential TV series. One that could air after "Lost" and is being sold as a "companion" piece for one of my favorite TV shows.

Being a book-snob, I knew I had to try the
The Bird from Twin Peaks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a very hard book to rate. The TV show was SO much better.

I was drawn to read this because I loved the TV show Flashforward of a couple of years ago, the one that didn’t make it past two seasons. I thought it was such a fascinating premise: Everyone on earth blacks out for two minutes and sees a vision of his or her own future. They get to observe exactly what they’ll be doing six months hence, leading afterward to much contemplation by characters (and viewers) about whether the future i
As with quite a few people my first introduction to this book came through the show based on it. Very loosely based on it. I liked the show but being TV it had to take a more exciting angle on it. Turn the flashforward into some big conspiracy, with heroes and villains and a much shorter time frame.

The book though is much more peaceful. There's no conspiracy. It was an accident. And the vision was over 20 years later rather than 6 months. There is a lot of heavy science in this book but, for me,
Kat Hagedorn
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was ok

Forget the book, watch the series.

Sawyer is not that good a writer, but his ideas are phenomenal. There's a lot of stumbling around in the book-- mostly via descriptions of the physics that take pages, and descriptions of the characters that don't advance the plot or make us care for the characters any longer or any more than we do.

I was particularly confused by the ending. I'll admit that the physics has to be explained, and that Sawyer does not do a bad job of making
Sep 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2011
I’ve had Flashback sitting in my to-read pile for a long time now, but I kept moving books in front of it. It was a surprisingly fast and easy read, but it missed some of the depth it could have achieved considering its themes. The largest theme is freewill vs. determinism. That’s a pretty meaty topic for such a short book. Religion has been debating this issue for millennia and hasn’t come to a full conclusion. This book tries to take a scientific approach, but it’s nothing that can really be d ...more
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I had trouble sleeping last night, partly because I found this book so engaging. I'm about 2/3 done already, and I'm pretty sure I'll want to recommend this to others and to read more by the author.

I particularly liked that he didn't start out the way so many of these stories that have a large cast of characters do, by introducing us to each backstory before getting to the meat of the adventure. We got to know more and more people as we went along.

I also am enjoying the 'predictions.' This was w
Dec 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction-scifi
"FlashForward," the inspiration for the hit ABC television series, is nothing more than that: inspiration. It is hardly anything like the series, and thank goodness for that, because Sawyer is such a poor writer that one can only explain his numerous awards as being given for clever concepts, not execution. His book is full of hackneyed situations, paper-thin characters, a bumpy and unsatisfying storyline, and a climax that is not climactic but ultimately depressing and pointless. Given his view ...more
Dec 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Well this was an interesting read - more for curiosity than because it was an amazing book.

Cast your memory back to a short lived TV series of the same name where an unidentified event causes every living persons consciousness to be transported forward in time for just over 2 minutes - and then returned.

The TV series deals with the events both here and now - and the implications of what people saw in the future.

Now the book - this too follows similar lines but suddenly not only are you dealing
A science fiction novel where humanity gains a 2 minute glimpse of the future 20 years ahead. Most of the book is concerned with social and sociological issues that this causes and the age old question of free will 'v' determinism.

Really enjoyed this one and would have given it 5 stars if the main scientist characters had not acted so wooden and set in their opinions. This is not how you would expect people with a strict scientific background to go about finding the truth.
Jul 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
I picked up this book because I was completely in love with the ABC series. Well, just so you know, it's COMPLETELY different.
Except for the Flashforward and Mosaic, not even the characters are the same. Lloyd Simcoe is in the series, but as a secondary character...
That being said, the book was okay. It's not something I would have picked to read had I not seen the TV series.
Lloyd Simcoe, for some reason, reminds me a lot of Robert Langdon. But Seeing as Flashforward was published in 1999 and t
Feb 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, lost-lit
Ok. Not offically a Lost Lit book, but it really should be. It's a pretty cool concept. Scientists try to rebuild the same situations that took place to create the Big Bang, and when they push the button to start the experiment, everyone in the world loses consciousness and jumps into their future selves for almost two minutes. The visions, or lack of, that they experience shape their actions and thoughts for the next twenty years.

Two complaints...

The author uses the word "doubtless" an amazin
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flashforward is an excellent hard-science novel that wanders from quantum physics through speculative realms of time and religion and pre-determination and personal responsibility and all manner of thought-provoking and mind-challenging themes. I wasn't sure about the ending, but that was kind of built into the nature of the question. It's probably Sawyer's best-known book, due to the television series that was (loosely) based on it. I happened to attend a convention near the end of the run of t ...more
* kyrat
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi
One of those very rare cases where the tv show is better than the book.(IMO)

I've discovered don't like Robert Sawyer's books.
I had previously read his attempt at "intelligent design" SciFi book called "Calculating God" (which I *LOATHED*).

However, the concept of this book was so interesting, I was intrigued.
I enjoyed the TV show adaptation but wanted more answers, so I read the book.

I had to force my way through it. I don't know why but I just don't like his writing style.

I don't think it's ju
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My grief, this was fantastic. Seriously. I've never read a time-travel book before that didn't have time-travel in it. Here is a completely original idea, done with superb craftsmanship. The basic premise is that an experiment at CERN using the large halon collider produces a quirk, in which the entire human race is shown a flash from the future. The whole world simultaneously sees a two-minute glimpse of the world twenty-one years in the future. Now what do we do with that knowledge?

Excellent p
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
After reading Paul Jones' time travel novel, Towards Yesterday by Paul Jones Towards Yesterday (which is about what would happen if the whole world time traveled 20 years into the past), I had to read Flashforward (which is about what would happen if the whole world time traveled 20 years into the future). I'd seen the television series which, like too many sci-fi series, was canceled before there was a good resolution. I sort of hoped this would resolve the loose ends, but the only similarities seemed to be a character na ...more
Apr 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: time-travel, sci-fi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
I actually read this book as part of a selection for my book club. I want to read the book because I think the concept is interest and can stir a lot of discussion about science and the ability to have a glimpse of your future.

I found the book too heavy on the technical and scientific description. I think the author could have use the time to better develop his characters. Getting past all the physics theories and extended descriptions, the idea behind the story is interesting. See how people co
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2009
It is 2009, and a team of international physicists working at CERN near Geneva in Switzerland (by the French border), are about to run an experiment that they hope will give them the Higg's boson, resulting in a breakthrough in generating energy. Everything's ready to go, and the computer will run the actual experiment; all they have to do is count down and hope.

At exactly 5 p.m. local time, it begins. The result is unexpected, to say the least: world-wide catastrophe.

Across the globe, every hum
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book quite a lot. It was a very easy read, quick to get into, fast to finish. The premise is interesting, and fit nicely into place with the many books I've been reading lately about fate vs. free will. I also always enjoy when sci-fi books can teach me some interesting science lessons while still making it fun. I enjoyed the way Theo's arc read like a mystery novel within context of the greater story. What I thought worked best was the way that the book told the overall story of a g ...more
Amanda (bookedwithamanda)
Flashforward was an interesting SciFi about glimpsing the future and what would happen if we'd had that opportunity.

Sawyer is not the best writer, it's evident in this book, but it was entertaining enough if you could get past that. The concept of the book is incredible! The science was pretty good too and not boring. I have no complaints about pacing either.

I personally found that Saywer's writing is more like fanfiction than a published author so unfortunately I took off a star for that. I'm
Jul 21, 2010 rated it liked it
I did enjoy this book, but I went into the book thinking it would be like the TV show; and hoped I would give me some closure. With this mentality it took me a while to get into this book. The book is nothing like the TV show. While the TV show was a fast paced, exciting show; the book was more a philosophical look at what life would be like if we knew our future mixed heavily with the scientific theories behind time travel. If you are going to read this book, you need to remember that it is not ...more
Kara Babcock
I do not believe in free will. But more on that later.

Flashforward is in every way what you'd expect from a story about glimpsing the future. It raises questions about free will, determinism, and the nature of consciousness and time itself. However, Robert J. Sawyer has gone one step further and added to that a humbling sense of moral responsibility. The flashforwards are a global event experienced by all of humanity, but were caused by a human experiment and ended up causing, in turn, damage an
I don't know what to make of this book. As a "science fiction" book, I think it failed. As a work of fiction about humanity and psychology, it wasn't all that bad. It definitely had some thriller elements to it, too, though those aspects felt unfinished at the end.

First - the science fiction. I understand that Sawyer used a scientific event to create the Flashforward. But I think he could have used that without bringing in so much of the science into it. Every time actual physics was brought up,
Silver Thistle
Feb 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Robert Sawyer always finds great stories to write about. His ideas always draw me in and I think I'm in for a fantastic tale. Then I reach the end and I feel like it could have been more.

Flashforward had a great pull - See your own life 20 years into the future for 2 minutes and try to work out how to get there.

It was a brilliant start and a real page turner. I loved reading about everyone's flashforward, I was riveted by all the connotations that flashforward threw up. Even the loss and devasta
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Flights of Fantasy: November 2016 - Sci-Fi: Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer 26 25 Nov 30, 2016 03:20PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer 5 20 Aug 21, 2015 06:44AM  
The Sword and Laser: FF: Tech in 20 years 32 135 Oct 10, 2011 01:15AM  
The Sword and Laser: FF: Foreign Language Pet Peeves 19 144 Sep 27, 2011 04:17AM  
The Sword and Laser: FF: Tempting proposal 14 99 Sep 24, 2011 05:34PM  

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Robert J. Sawyer is one of Canada's best known and most successful science fiction writers. He is the only Canadian (and one of only 7 writers in the world) to have won all three of the top international awards for science fiction: the 1995 Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment, the 2003 Hugo Award for Hominids, and the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan.
Robert Sawyer grew up in

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