It is often said that the best Science Fiction stories are not necessarily about fantastic adventures and crazy futuristic devices. They instead use the bizzare devices and locales to reflect back on ourselves, on humanity. They reflect our own society, or our own spirit. We recognize the shortcomings and glories of humanity by seeing it through an amazing lens. Author Philip K. Dick or the recent reincarnation of Battlestar Galactica are some examples of what great Science Fiction can be.
Flashforward is not great Science Fiction.
I had such high hopes coming into this book. The premise is simple, and pretty amazing: One day, out of the clear blue sky, everyone passes out. At once. Not everyone in a room, or in a city; everyone on the entire planet. At once. When they come to, there is massive amounts of destruction: cars crashed, planes crashed, people fallen off ladders, botched surgeries, swimmers drowned, people fallen down stairs. All told, more than 20 million people across the globe dead. But more amazing is when people begin to realize that the dreams they had while unconscious were not just dreams, they were visions of the future.
I was sold. There were so many great questions in my head. What would you do with your information of the future? Would it change you? Would you completely change the course of your life? Would you embrace what you saw, or reject it? Would you ride the stock market? Say someone was seen committing a crime in the future - would they be arrested in the here and now? Can the future be changed? What happens once you pass the point in time that you saw, and you no longer know the future?
Flashforward touches on some of these ideas, barely. Not enough. In fact, it boils down to a mystery story, and a lame one at that. The plot revolves around two men, Lloyd Simcoe and Theo Procopides, who work at CERN, the foremost physics research facility in the world. It is obvious from the first chapter that Lloyd and Theo's work is the cause of the blackout. Once the blackout occurs, the entire rest of the book follows the two men on two mostly different paths: Lloyd is convinced their experiment is the cause of everything, and tries to figure out just exactly what happened. Meanwhile, Theo - who did not have a vision - tries to solve the mystery of his eventual presumed death. Lloyd's story is bogged down with some of the most ridiculous and retarded philosophy that I've ever read, and Theo's journey is quite possibly the lamest, most predictable mystery I've ever read.
In the end, Flashforward never once spoke to the inner depths of humanity. It did not reveal anything, or provoke any deeper thought. It mostly just caused my eyes to roll. A lot.