Timescape (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 9 Mar 2000
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Scientists in the 60's struggle to interpret a message from the future and prevent catastrophe by changing the course of science itself.
From the Author
Great to see a 20 year old novel still read!
I'm grateful to UK & other readers who have reacted to a novel that now lies 20 years in my past... To the Toronto fellow: I felt Peterson had to eventually reach completion (polite word) with Marjorie, to complete the plot arc. It's a sign of things falling apart/center cannot hold in that gloomy 1999. (Whoosh, glad we're not on that timeline here!)
As one reader noted, my more recent COSM is like TIMESCAPE on speed, and my next two, THE MARTIAN RACE (December) and EATER (April) will have the same solid scientific background...
Gregory Benford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
So? - good yarn, conceptually, but very uneven and padded with character development and subplots which could have been cut back a lot - I found I really didn't care about these people very much.
A quick synopsis of the story before we proceed:
It's the springtime of 1998 and trouble is afoot. Yes, those damnable scientists have been playing God yet again with their bioengineering tomfoolery, thus conveniently condemning the entire planet to thoroughly depressing ecological oblivion (will these eggheads ever learn?).
Deep within the sleepy halls of Cambridge University, John Renfrew is attempting to send a faster-than-light message, via the use of tachyons, back to 1962, where Californian postgraduate Gordon Bernstein is tinkering around with advanced particle physics.
Renfrew's goal is a simple one: to prevent the ecological catastrophe by telling the people of the past about the plight of the people in their future.
A worthy pursuit to be sure and one that, in my opinion, really shouldn't take much more than two hundred pages to document. Unfortunately for the reader, Mr. Benford is one of these contemporary SF writers who are totally oblivious to the word 'pacing' and the phrase: less is more.
At 400+ pages, this text is far too long; and any genuinely interesting plot developments have the life choked out of them by seemingly endless bouts of mind-numbing characterization.
Not that I have a problem with the creation of three-dimensional protagonists of course, it's just that Benford's attempts appear to go above and beyond the boundaries of overkill, and truth be known, much of it isn't all that good anyway.Read more ›
The concept of the novel is that the future of the Earth is one of environmental catastrophe due to the unforeseen effects of pollution, in which a scientific group based in Cambridge try to send warning messages into the past using tachyons, subatomic particles that travel faster than light. A second research group based in La Jolla in 1962 begin receiving what they initially perceive as interference in their resonance experiments. Gradually the truth dawns on them that this is some type of encoded message. They struggle to understand where the signal is coming from, what the relevance of it is, and above all to be taken seriously by the scientific community.
The novel has the feel of a SF book written by a scientist, exploring some heavy concepts in physics around particle physics, the nature of time and paradoxes based upon time manipulation. The science is interesting but difficult to follow in places. The book is really very prescient concerning environmental issues, and has a reasonably credible plot for the genre. The author writes quite well and develops the characters involved in the various research groups. He particularly well captures the environment of competition and rivalry in academia, which gives the novel a realistic feel.
On the critical side though, the novel does sag a little in the middle sections and in my view would benefit from a bit of shortening. I couldn't really believe in the character of Ian Peterson. I wonder if the author, whom I assume is a scientist, was letting off a bit of steam over civil servants who often control the purse strings. Also, it does rather fizzle out at then end, almost as if the author couldn't really deliver a creative conclusion.
A thought provoking novel which despite its faults is well worth reading for the scientific SF enthusiast.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I hadn't read Benford before, but I enjoyed this very much; the book has aged well. Its depiction of the realties of academic life is spot on; the uncertainty, the setbacks, the... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Nick
This sounded like an excellent idea for a story: sending messages back in time to avert an environmental disaster in the very near future. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Dirty Hormonal
I cannot understand some of these reviews, did they read the same novel?
This is a beautiful work, absolute top sci-fi
Great plot, great characterization, a superb read... Read more
A good read, but it did feel like a little too much anticipation was created throughout the book for some events that were a bit unrewarding. Read morePublished on 18 Jun. 2013 by E. S. Schipper Amaral
I prefer realistic SF to the kinds of major imaginative flights of fancy seen in much of the genre: and this is why I enjoyed Timescape. Read morePublished on 18 Feb. 2013 by Willber G
This was in the recommended reading list of a book on quantum physics recently re-read. I was very disappointed. Read morePublished on 27 Feb. 2012 by Paul Belino
A story about scientists in the future sending messages back in time to warn us about a great danger to Earth? What could go wrong?
A lot it seems. Read more
I read reviews before buying this book and thought the story line sounded an interesting concept.
Passing warnings back through time of a environmental disaster and hoping... Read more