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

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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.

  1. 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?

  2. 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 do?

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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)?

  6. 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?

  7. 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?

  8. 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?

  9. 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?

  10. 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

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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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