Thursday, September 24, 2009

HNT - Flash Backward

Tonight on ABC a new television program premieres which is based on my friend Robert J. Sawyer's novel FlashForward.

If the television show is half as good as the novel (and all the trailers, ads and teasers indicate it will not only be as good, but will take the basic underlying thought-provoking and fascinating concepts from Rob's wonderful novel and expand them into a compelling and entertaining television show) then I'm sure I'm going to enjoy it.

The basic theme from the novel is predestination vs free-will, and, as I recall (because it has been ten years since I read the novel), Rob did an incredible job of covering those themes while telling a great story. The premise for the novel is that everyone in the world gets a brief glimpse into their future for just a few minutes -- it is the way that people react to what are often unexpected surprises in store for their future that makes it so interesting.

I'm pretty sure that the television series (which has the "flashforward" everyone experiences going only about 6 months into the future), is going to do justice to the themes Sawyer explored in the novel.

But enough about the television series, let's flash backward to look at 1999, when Rob's novel first came out and a few interesting trivial facts about the novel (and the interesting way I like to tie-myself to it. I mean, we all like tying ourselves to greatness, don't we?)

  • Rob won the 2000 Prix Aurora Award (Canada's top honour in SF & Fantasy) for "Best Long-Form Work in English" for FlashForward.
  • Incidentally, Rob also won in the category of "Best Short-Form Work in English" with his story "Stream of Consciousness" beating me in that category. My story "Erratic Cycles" was nominated that year. I couldn't have lost to a nicer guy.
  • Interestingly, Rob's story "Stream of Consciousness" was edited by Julie E. Czerneda, who was also in the running against Rob in the Long-Form Work category for her novel Beholder's Eye.
  • Also up against Rob in the Long-Form Work category was Edo van Belkom for his short story collection Death Drives a Semi.
  • Also up against Rob in the Short-Form category was Douglas Smith (he had two stories nominated that year - "State of Disorder" and "Symphony"
  • I republished Doug's story "State of Disorder" in the anthology North of Infinity II. Rob's story "Forever" was also reprinted in that anthology.
  • Julie, Doug and Edo (who are wonderful writers) are featured in an anthology I am editing and which is coming out in a few weeks called CAMPUS CHILLS -- all all original collection of short stories born from the dark shadows of campuses across Canada by some of Canada's finest writers of speculative fiction.
  • Rob wrote a wonderfully brilliant introduction to CAMPUS CHILLS.
  • In the novel FlashForward, Rob has two characters walk into their local bookstore and request an "on demand" book. Then they sit down to have a coffee at the adjacent coffee shop while the book is being printed and bound on the spot in the bookstore. (Hmm, does that sound anything like the Espresso Book Machine that I currently have in my bookstore? Did I only purchase the machine so I could see this scene in Rob's novel unfold right before me?)
  • CAMPUS CHILLS (which Rob wrote the introduction for, and which Julie, Doug and Edo appear in) is being printed on the Espresso Book Machines located at McMaster, Waterloo and University of Alberta bookstores. Each location is holding a really cool book launch simultaneously on October 22, 2009 featuring 10 of the 13 contributors to the anthologies. Julie will be at Waterloo (she is an Alumna from there), as will Doug (he's an Alumnus), Edo will be at McMaster; and our friend Rob will be unable to attend because he is attempting to "hermit" himself away to finish work on the third novel in his WWW trilogy
  • I own a first edition hardcover of FlashForward (pictured below)
  • Interestingly, my hardcover copy of FlashForward is one of the few novels of Rob's that I don't have signed. I'll have to rectify that the next time I see him.
  • I'm pretty sure that after I see the television show based on Rob's novel, I'll want to read FlashForward again.
  • I'm pretty sure that after YOU see the television show, YOU'LL want to read Rob's novel too. And I encourage you to do so (That's why I already have a nice display of Rob's book in my store, complete with an 11 X 17 poster of the cover of the book -- because anyone who gets the fact this show is based on a Canadian author's novel is likely to be asking for it on Friday)
  • But do be warned. Rob is an incredibly talented writer and storyteller. Once you read one of his novels, you're likely to want to read the other 18 or so that he has written. The GREAT news is that you won't be disappointed. I have loved every single novel Rob has written.


BTExpress said...

I hope I say this right and make myself clear.

I believe that the lives we lead are a combination of both predestination and free-will. God has a plan for us all and the future. As long as we don't try to screw it up, we have free will to lead our lives as we see fit. Once in a while he has to step in and puts us back on track.

Have you ever decided to to "turn right instead of left" and done something or met someone that changed your life forever? I can't count how many times that's happened to me.

Mark Leslie said...

Perfectly said, Tony. In fact, when I was blog browsing several years ago and discovered a friend of a friend who was participating in HNT, that set me on a path of discovering many cool blog friend like you that I am delighted and pleased to have met and gotten to know.

lecram said...

I've been meaning to watch this. Perhaps I will catch it this weekend on hule.