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Old 10-24-2009, 01:46 PM   #16
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Concept was really interesting but I agree with the other comments that (i) the characters could have been more engagingly developed, and (ii) the ending totally threw me off and didn't feel true to the rest of the story. Without the very end I would have given much higher marks but the end seemed a bit like a sellout dream sequence. My absolute favourite part was when Lloyd mailed the souvenir to the naysayer.

I have the series pvr'd but haven't started it yet. The concept is slightly different so it will be interesting to see how it works differently.

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Old 10-24-2009, 02:10 PM   #17
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But what I really didn't like was the esoteric ending. In fact, once we reach the year 2030 the whole story just somehow fades away. It's being told a lot faster and with a lot less detail than the "now" part - one could think, the author just wanted to wrap things up. The action scene is pretty much the only thing that keeps the story going, the rest is just ... "now where to I put 'the end'?"
I'm with you there. It might have been better just to end the book when the second Flashforward occurred and leave it to our imaginations.



It is interesting that he predicted the name on the Pope correctly. Benedict XVI became Pope in '05, but this book came out in 1999.
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Old 10-24-2009, 02:36 PM   #18
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Concept was really interesting but I agree with the other comments that (i) the characters could have been more engagingly developed, and (ii) the ending totally threw me off and didn't feel true to the rest of the story. Without the very end I would have given much higher marks but the end seemed a bit like a sellout dream sequence. My absolute favourite part was when Lloyd mailed the souvenir to the naysayer.

I have the series pvr'd but haven't started it yet. The concept is slightly different so it will be interesting to see how it works differently.

Mel

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I tried watching the episode from last week and after about 10 mins deleted it. Watched even less of this weeks.
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Old 10-24-2009, 06:27 PM   #19
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It is interesting that he predicted the name on the Pope correctly. Benedict XVI became Pope in '05, but this book came out in 1999.
Maybe it's an updated version?
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Old 10-25-2009, 12:00 AM   #20
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You guys reminded me about how I felt about the end. Everything was going well until he decided he had to show us the future thousands of years from now. I don't mind that he did it. Just that the rest of the book was going at a good pace, then all of a sudden he went through thousands of years in 20 pages.
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Old 10-25-2009, 11:56 AM   #21
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Great idea - but the execution were lacking. I'll give it 3 out of 5, and the third point mainly for idea and effort. I'm glad I took some notes, because I read it three weeks ago and don't remember much now.

The prose was lacklustre, I found the characters rather flat and unconvincing, especially their relationships. They were more vehicles for ideas than fully realized persons.

I was fine with the scientific explanations, but in general he was 'over-explaining' and giving too many fact at some points, and it broke the flow.

I had to look up when it was first written, as it struck me in the description of right after the first flashforward, that they hardly used the Internet as a news channel, but relied on official sources on TV.

It was very western-world oriented. This is supposed to be a world-wide event, but it stayed fairly firmly in a "western world" of Western Europe, USA and Japan, and it didn't really convince me. The few times countries/continents outside were mentioned, it was a bit like an afterthought.

I didn't remember the ending until you started talking about it here. It was odd, and I'm not sure what the point was, but I had also mostly lost interest by then.

All this said, it could have been worse It's a neat idea, but I think the short story format would have fitted better.

I liked the idea, and the author seemed reasonably well-grounded in the scientific explanations. The visions were generally interesting - but perhaps a tad optimistic with regards to technology. However, it's difficult to augur, especially about the future The reactions to the event were well-described - espcially the scene at CERN right after the flashforward, where no-one really knows what has happened.
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Old 10-25-2009, 12:52 PM   #22
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For such a good idea, it was a bit lite in it's execution.
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Old 10-26-2009, 11:22 AM   #23
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My 2 eurocents

Of all the topoi in SF, time travel is one of the most used (and abused). From the eponymous Time Machine to a modified DeLorean DMC-12, to a quantum foam which makes me roam between universes, we have seen a wide spectrum of means of transportation along the time axis.
In this novel, Sawyer provides us with someting new: the consciousness did travel, while the body stayed home. Good idea, indeed.
Generally speaking, the theme of time travel, even in this particular form, always brings questions, to which the writer is supposed to give answers. Is the future fixed/predetermined? Do we really have free will? Can the past be changed? And, of course there is always place for paradoxes: if a future discovery is patented now, who's the creator? Where the idea come from?
Of course none of these is a must have element in a time-travel story, but IMHO these questions have to be dealt with in a way or another - even if the focus of the story is not in the time travel itself, and it's rather in the action of escaping from a T-800 Terminator; otherwise it always give the feel of a lack of solid grounds.
RJ Sawyer covers the topic in the dialogs between scientists, where he gives the reader a couple of good cues ("if I was aware of the Flash Forward in the future, I'd been reading stock market outcomes"...). The answers are given vehemently, brought by death: Dim's suicide in praise of free will; LLoyd's choice of mortality (another topos itself, fallen from german skies...); the guy trying to destroy the LHC while attempting to create a Pauli principle for consciousness effect...
The one way travel in the future albeit temporary, exempt the author from dealing with most paradoxes: you see just one of the possible future, and in that future you don't have knowledge of present leap - meaning, of course, that it can't be your actual future...
The world-wide time travel, another good idea itself, brings up a lot of new themes, ranging from social issues to religions, and here is where the novel lacks, giving the impression that the author does not dare to delve into such sensible subjects, and he just skims over them giving the reader the bare minimum (and possibily something less).
About the two-dimensionality of the characters, I just quote what have been told here, and, like others, I'm also a bit disappointed by the ending.
I can't evaluate the style of writing on an informed basis: I'm not skilled enough in English. But I did read the book easily, and I resorted to the dictionary only a couple of times, having a seamless reading experience, which I enjoyed.

Bottom line: some very good ideas, with a weak story to carry them on.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:05 PM   #24
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I'm not skilled enough in English.
Liar!

Thanks for your post, very enlightening!
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Old 10-28-2009, 05:06 PM   #25
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I did enjoy this book but I am a big fan of Stephen Baxter and it just didn't grab me like his books do. I find the science and characters written by Baxter much more convincing.

So I agree with most of you, good idea but could have been done better.
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Old 10-29-2009, 11:31 PM   #26
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This is the second RJS book I've read, and found both to be pretty frustrating (the first was 'The Terminal Experiment') - as others have noted, great ideas, poor execution.

At least this one didn't completely abandon its premise in mid-stream like the other book did.

Did the 'explanation' of the Flash Forward make sense to you? Because it didn't to me. So what if neutrinos strike during a LHC experiment? How would that make everyone on Earth hallucinate? Seems to me that a *neurological* explanation would have made more sense. Indeed, our 'hero' (who was more than a bit of a jackass) made an awful lot of illogical leaps, which annoyed me no end.

Can't say that Sawyer has won me over as a reader (although I've had converse with him online and he's a nice enough guy). He has good ideas, but he needs to spend more time on character development.

Did this book really need a chase scene?
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:00 AM   #27
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What got me was that they were all "oh, hey, I wonder if this is going to be the future in 20 years time" and everyone was stressing about what they saw.

OF COURSE IT WASN'T. They weren't all staring at a piece of paper with important information about the occurrences of the past 20 years written on it, were they? Like "buy stock in ebook readers, because they're sure to take off"? (Or not, y'know.)

It was a POSSIBLE future, and it grated me no end that they were harping on how it was a definite future until Theo's brother suicided, thereby proving it wasn't. Billions of people going about their ordinary lives clearly wasn't enough!

The end bit with Lloyd's spanning of the ages was very strange. Part 3 overall was something of a let-down; possibly this would have been a lot stronger work as a novella, ending about where they found out for certain that it was only a probable future -- or even when they discovered it wasn't only the Hadron Collider, but the particle flare.
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Old 10-30-2009, 05:23 AM   #28
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I had decided to read this as the series was starting on TV. I held off for a while so as not to spoil the series. I need not have bothered. The idea is really good but the story telling and the characters slow and boring. The TV writers have made a far better job of engaging the viewer. It was interesting to see some of the Authors ideas that have been used almost exactly in the series but I found myself almost scanning the last quarter of the book as the story wandered off into, well I am still not sure where it wandered off to actually.
I can see why the TV writers picked the story up and the series is very good but this book is very disappointing struggles to stand on it's own merit. Were it not for the series, I might not have finished it and that is very rare.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:44 AM   #29
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This is the second RJS book I've read, and found both to be pretty frustrating (the first was 'The Terminal Experiment') - as others have noted, great ideas, poor execution.

At least this one didn't completely abandon its premise in mid-stream like the other book did.

Did the 'explanation' of the Flash Forward make sense to you? Because it didn't to me. So what if neutrinos strike during a LHC experiment? How would that make everyone on Earth hallucinate? Seems to me that a *neurological* explanation would have made more sense. Indeed, our 'hero' (who was more than a bit of a jackass) made an awful lot of illogical leaps, which annoyed me no end.

Can't say that Sawyer has won me over as a reader (although I've had converse with him online and he's a nice enough guy). He has good ideas, but he needs to spend more time on character development.

Did this book really need a chase scene?
I agree 100% the explanation was dreamed up to fit the plot and lot of smoke and mirrors but it still didn't ring true to me -- particularly the part about it only effecting "conscious beings." And the chase scene was just silly I had totally given up on it at that point, but forged ahead.
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Old 10-30-2009, 12:29 PM   #30
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I tried watching the episode from last week and after about 10 mins deleted it. Watched even less of this weeks.
Well, I thought this week's was the best yet. A big turning point in Mark and Olivia's relationship and a couple of bombshells.

It's on Hulu, but if you're skipping episodes you're going to be really confused.
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