Mass Market Paperback
Additional Formats
  • Mass Market Paperback
  • ISBN 9780425256527
  • 352  Pages
  • Ace
  • Adult


On the eve of a secret military operation, an assassin’s bullet strikes President Seth Jerrison. He is rushed to the hospital, where surgeons struggle to save his life—and where Professor Ranjip Singh is experimenting with a device that can erase traumatic memories.
Then a terrorist bomb detonates. In the operating room, the president suffers cardiac arrest. He has a near-death experience—but the memories that flash through Jerrison’s mind are not his own. The electromagnetic pulse generated by the bomb amplified and scrambled Professor Singh’s equipment, allowing a random group of people to access one another’s minds.
One of those people can retrieve the President Jerrison’s memories—including classified information regarding the upcoming military mission, which, if revealed, could cost countless lives. But the task of determining who has switched memories with whom is a daunting one—particularly when some of the people involved have reason to lie…


Triggers is constantly gripping on the surface and seriously provocative deep down.”—Wall Street Journal

“Enthralling. Despite the near-dystopian setting, Triggers is haunting in its optimism. It was a joy to read.” —San Francisco Book Review

Triggers has the hard-core military/political insights of Robert A. Heinlein, and the compassion of Theodore Sturgeon.”—Jonathan Vos Post

“No one digs into a sci-fi thought experiment with quite the zest that Robert J. Sawyer does. Sawyer doesn’t stint the thriller framework, but the story’s real joy is the care he takes in exploring the details of the memory-sharing.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“First and foremost, Robert J. Sawyer is a rip-roaring good storyteller…There are few authors writing today that bring such a strong combination of literate storytelling and complex ideas to the page. Robert J. Sawyer is one of the best in the business right now, and Triggers is him at his finest.”—The Maine Edge (Bangor, Maine)
“Robert J. Sawyer pulls together elements of a gripping political thriller with cutting-edge psychological insights to create a story that works on many levels. Triggers has the pacing of an episode of 24 and the philosophical sensibilities of an Isaac Asimov novel, so any readers who were introduced to Sawyer through his television series FlashForward will find it particularly interesting.”—Black Gate



Triggers is my 21st novel. I’ve been doing a novel a year consistently for twenty-one years now and have built a nice audience over that time. But the biggest boost to my readership came in 2009 and 2010, when the ABC television network broadcast a TV series called FlashForward, based on my novel of the same name.
My novel FlashForward was an introspective, philosophical work about what it would be like if everyone on Earth had certain knowledge of their own future. The TV show was a liberal adaptation—a slam-bang adventure, with a pilot script by David S. Goyer, who wrote Batman Begins, and Brannon Braga, who is best known for his work on the various Star Trek TV shows. Although I was consulted on all the changes Dave and Brannon made, and approved them, there’s no doubt that the FlashForward TV series had a different feel from my novel, adding lots of action, explosions, conspiracies, and mysteries; the whole production felt like a thriller.
Well, Triggers is the first new project I’ve worked on since FlashForward went off the air, and I decided, since I’ve had a large influx of new readers because of that TV series, to try my hand at a work that incorporates the elements people associate with the FlashForward TV show. Although many reviewers have kindly referred to my books as “page turners” over the years, Triggers is the first novel by me that was actually conceived of as a thriller. It has a fast pace, a big cast of characters, a lot of action, and many secrets to be revealed.
Triggers contains a couple of in-jokes for FlashForward fans, and Courtney B. Vance, who played FBI Assistant Director Stanford Wedeck in the TV series, makes a cameo appearance in the novel. But even if you’ve never seen FlashForward or read any of my other books, fear not: Triggers is a stand-alone novel; it’s not part of any series, and—well, let’s just say it has a definitive ending.
Although I’m known as a science-fiction writer, Triggers, like many of my other works, is about inner space, rather than outer space: it’s an exploration of what goes on in people’s minds. This time I’m focusing on the nature of memory: what memory really is, how accurate it is, and how it defines who we are. Of course, my fervent hope is that readers will have a memorable reading experience.