[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
ROBERT J. SAWYER
Hugo and Nebula Winner


SFWRITER.COM > Novels > FlashForward > Writing FlashForward

Writing FlashForward

by Robert J. Sawyer

Copyright © 1999 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved

In 1975, when I was in grade 10, I founded my high-school's science-fiction club. Twenty years later, in 1995, we had a reunion party. We were all amazed at how differently our lives had turned out from what we'd expected. Several members of our group had been married and divorced in the interim, and practically no one had the job he or she thought they were going to get. Me, I'd been planning on becoming a paleontologist; Ted had his sights set on becoming a veterinarian; Rick was going to be a filmmaker; and Bruce was going to be a police officer.

Twenty years later, I was a science-fiction writer. Ted had become a computer programmer. Rick had become a lawyer. And the guy who wanted to be a cop was now a cordon bleu chef.

We all kept saying the same thing about our high-school days: if I had known then what I know now, how much better things would have been!

Well, a science-fiction writer can't hear a comment like that without wanting to put it to the test. And so my eleventh novel, FlashForward (Tor, June 1999), was born. In it, an experiment goes awry at CERN, the European Center for Particle Physics, causing the consciousness of everyone on Earth to jump ahead twenty-one years for a period of two minutes. Suddenly people know for an absolute fact how their lives, their careers, and their marriages are going to turn out. The novel details the impact such knowledge has, both for good and bad. Of course, a two-minute glimpse can be frustratingly ambiguous. Could you go ahead with a planned wedding knowing that two decades hence you would be married to someone else? How would you greet the imminent birth of your first child if you knew that he'd grow up to be a vicious, surly thug?

As with many of my novels, FlashForward tries to combine a mind-stretching idea with a very human story. Indeed, I think science fiction is at its best when it lets us examine the human condition under circumstances that no one has ever encountered before — that's what makes the genre anything but formulaic, and endlessly fascinating to write.


More Good Reading

Another essay about writing FlashForward
More About FlashForward

Writing The Quintaglio Ascension trilogy
Writing The Terminal Experiment
Writing Frameshift
Writing Illegal Alien
Writing "Calculating God"
Writing "Lost in the Mail"
Writing "You See But You Do Not Observe"
Writing "The Shoulders of Giants"


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