Flashforward (the novel) isn’t terrible
I just finished reading Flashforward by Canadian writer Robert J. Sawyer. I’ve been watching the TV version of it sort of halfheartedly since it started last fall, and I was intrigued to learn that it had been based on a novel written in 1999.
To be honest, the show isn’t great. It’s entertaining, but as a mystery it’s just not that captivating. The only thing that really keeps me watching is the sense of investment that I feel. I gave it a chance and now I don’t want to walk away so close to the end of the season.
Despite my disappointment with the show, I held out hope for the original novel. I figured that in book form the story could be more comprehensive – since TV is always worried that a cancellation may leave viewers without a resolution.
What I didn’t realize was that the novel is a completely different story. So different in fact, that there is no need to worry about reading the novel before seeing the end of the show.
To be sure, their are similarities: One day the whole world blacks out for two minutes and sees the future. There are also similarities between some of the characters, at least one of which actually shares a name with a character from the show.
But that is pretty well where the similarities end. The time-frame is totally different. The show takes place in the present and the future scenes are only a few months away. But the novel’s ‘present’ takes place in a future 2009 (remember it was written in 1999) and the future scenes actually take place more than 20 years later. Another major difference is that the novel’s narrative is told from the perspective of those who caused the blackout, rather than those trying to determine the cause. In fact, in the novel there is almost no question who was actually responsible. These few changes take the story in a completely different direction.
I won’t ruin the story for anyone that still wants to read it, but I will say that I wasn’t happy about the ending. For me, the last 75 pages or so were a let down, despite what seemed to be a very good story until that point.
In any case, it was a decent read and while I didn’t care for the ending, I’m sure plenty of people probably will.