Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Flash Forward is in good hands

by Rob - January 9th, 2009.
Filed under: FlashForward.

I’m astonished by just how much online and print coverage there’s been for the pilot for Flash Forward, the TV series being developed by David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga based on my novel of the same name.

People have been poring over what’s purported to be drafts of the script, supposed casting-call notes, and so on, looking for clues, and they’re dissecting every word that everyone has said about the series. (It’s been fascinating watching the broken-telephone aspect as, for instance, the original coverage in The Hollywood Reporter has been rewritten or summarized for other venues.)

Some online commentators have suggested that any TV show is going to be dumbed down from its source material. That’s emphatically not the case here. Brannon and David are staggeringly intelligent guys, and they have put an enormous amount of thought into how to ramp up the concepts in my book.

It’s often said that one has to cut out and water down when turning a 350-page novel into a two-hour movie. That may be so, but these guys are taking a 350-page novel as the jumping-off point for a hundred-hour TV series. That requires an expansion of vision.

What they’ve added to my original notion (and it’s a lot) is wonderful, and intelligent, and well-thought-out; what they’ve changed (and that’s a lot, too) is changed in thoughtful, clever ways. If you know my novel, you have a good sense of what thematically Flash Forward is going to be about — but, trust me, you will be surprised and thrilled by what David and Brannon have come up with (there was a point while reading the pilot script that I literally gasped).

Remember, David S. Goyer will be the showrunner on Flash Forward: this is the guy who reinvented Batman with Batman Begins. He doesn’t do slavish adaptation; he does brilliant extrapolation and re-imagining.

It’s also often said that Hollywood doesn’t really understand science fiction. These guys do. Brannon Braga is a Hugo Award-winner, and deservedly so, for Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s fabulous finale, “All Good Things …,” which he co-authored with Ronald D. Moore. Brannon also co-authored Star Trek: First Contact, which is a brilliant piece of science fiction.

And both David and Brannon read printed SF. In fact, I daresay that David S. Goyer is better read in the field than I am, and is right up to date on modern stuff. When we first met, we chatted a bit about other things we were each doing, and I mentioned I edited the science-fiction imprint for a Canadian publisher. David asked who I published, and I said, “Well, our most recent book is by Matthew Hughes.” And David instantly said, “Oh, yes. He wrote Black Brillion.” Which, of course, is right: these guys know their stuff.

So, Flash Forward is in very good hands. And, even if you’ve read my book, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns. People keep comparing the Flash Forward TV series to Lost, and that’s apt in this sense: David and Brannon have crafted something that’s as complex, intriguing, and weighty as Lost, and, just as with Lost, if you think you’ve got it all figured out, trust me — you don’t.

Photo: David, Rob, and Brannon

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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