SFWRITER.COM > Novels > 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
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,
(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 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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