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Reading Group Guide
by Robert J. Sawyer
Many reading groups and book clubs have enjoyed novels by Robert J. Sawyer.
The following questions may help stimulate an interesting
discussion about FlashForward. (These questions
might also suggest essay topics for students studying the book.)
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Note that these questions reveal much of the novel's plot; to
preserve your reading pleasure, please don't look at these questions
until after you've finished reading the book.
- Because Lloyd Simcoe doesn't want to feel responsible for all
the death and destruction that occurs during the FlashForward,
he's desperate to believe that the past, present, and future are
fixed; if they are fixed, then what happened was inevitable and
therefore not truly Lloyd's fault. Theo Procopides, meanwhile,
discovering that he'll be dead in two decades, desperately wishes
to believe that the future is not fixed. Do you believe
the future is fixed, or can it be changed? Do you feel Lloyd is
to blame for Tamiko's death?
- If you were in the same situation as Lloyd and Michiko,
knowing that twenty-one years down the road you would no longer
be together, would you go ahead with the planned wedding? If you
were in the same situation as Theo's brother, Dim, and discovered
that your dreams were never going to come true, what would you
- In the novel, people had no choice about seeing their lives
in the future. If you were given a choice, would you choose to
have a glimpse of what the future hold for you? How would you
react if, like Theo, you discovered that you would be dead
twenty-one years in the future?
- Reverse the premise: What one piece of information from today
would you want to tell yourself twenty-one years ago? Job advice?
A hot stock tip? Something about your interpersonal relationships?
What truth about your life as it is today would you have been
grateful to know twenty-one years ago?
- In the novel, author Sawyer says the majority of the human race
would decide that they want to have the CERN experiment
reproduced. Granted the insights into the future are fascinating, but
given all the carnage that occurred the first time, do you think it's
realistic that most people would be willing to try again? What
could go wrong with Project Klaatu (the attempt to make sure no
one gets hurt the second time the experiment is run)?
- FlashForward is full of scientists. Did they
seem like real people to you? Could you identify with them, even
if you, yourself, are not a scientist? Why or why not?
- What, if anything, is Theo's hamartia his fatal
flaw? Do all of the characters have a fatal flaw? What is your
fatal flaw? Does knowing what our flaws are help us? Or are we
blind to our own flaws, and can only see them in others?
- Theo Procopides survives at the end, even though he had no
vision. In essence, his future is now a blank slate. Do you
accept his sudden need for family, for someone to fill that void?
What do you think the future holds for Theo and Michiko?
- Lloyd is offered immortality but with strings attached.
Would you take the opportunity to live forever? What if your
spouse could not live forever with you? Did you believe Lloyd's
choice, turning down immortality in favor of living out the rest
of a normal life with Doreen? What if you were the only
immortal, and you outlived the rest of the human race would
you want to live forever even if it meant you would be all alone?
- Young Jacob Horowitz makes his vision come true. At the end
of the novel, he and Carly Tompkins are happily married with
children. Did their relationship succeed because of their
mutual visions? Would Lloyd Simcoe have said they were "fated"
to be together?
More Good Reading
Download this Reading Group Guide in Adobe Acrobat Format
More about FlashForward
Reading Group Guide Index
Reading Group Guide for Quantum Night
Reading Group Guide for Triggers
Reading Group Guide for Wake
Reading Group Guide for Rollback
Reading Group Guide for Mindscan
Reading Group Guide for Hominids
Reading Group Guide for Calculating God
Reading Group Guide for Factoring Humanity
Reading Group Guide for Frameshift
Reading Group Guide for Illegal Alien
Reading Group Guide for The Terminal Experiment
Reading Group Guide for End of an Era
Reading Group Guide for Golden Fleece
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