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Timescape (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 9 Mar 2000

3.5 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (9 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185798935X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857989359
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of Arthur C. Clarke, mainly because I prefer realistic sci-fi to the kinds of major imaginative flights seen in much of the genre: and this is why I enjoyed Timescape. The story is completely believable - the idea of using the tachyon particles to signal back in time is wonderfully original and grounded in credibility, and there is (for once) an intelligent discussion about the normal problems associated with time travel - the creation of a paradox. The characters are also refreshingly well-developed for a sci-fi novel, and the ecological disasters that threaten the earth of the future (actually the past now - the book was written in 1980) is also totally believable. This doesn't have the obvious excitement of travelling to meet Attila the Hun, or of a cyborg trying to assassinate a man whilst still a child - but the moment when one of the investigators discovers for certain that the message has been received in the past is totally thrilling. Only word of warning - the physics can be hard to follow at times (I got lost more then once) although the gist of what he is saying is always clear. Well worth a read - and may well appeal to those who aren't big sci-fi fans. If you like Clarke, or Contact, you'll enjoy this one.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Since Dr Benford is a distinguished scientist in his own right, the sci-fi plot line is excellent and well developed, as you would expect - one of the best stories about time-travel I've come across. Otherwise, I found this very heavy going. A lot of time is spent developing characters who, when you get down to it, really aren't either attractive or particularly interesting. I'd rather not consider what personal hang-ups of the author's are on show here - the private lives of nerds who appear to be similar to, and located in the same places as, Benford's own background (specifically La Jolla) are of passing interest, and are overdeveloped. Undoubtedly there are personal axes grinding throughout, which is not in itself a bad thing, but the sexual fantasy stuff is dated and occasionally actually embarrassing, treatment of bolted-on themes such as homosexuality and class conflict is - well - immature, and Mr Benford has no idea about the "English" and their supposed characteristics at all. If you get through the dinner party in about Chapter 2 without losing the will to live you are doing well.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Cult film director Roger Corman once said, "There isn't a film in existence that wouldn't benefit from twenty minutes' worth of cuts". Okay, so we are talking about books and not movies, but this neat aphorism would seem to be remarkably relevant when referencing Greg Benford's technically accomplished yet painfully overwrought Timescape.
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.
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By John M VINE VOICE on 9 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was written in 1980 and despite the fact that half the novel is set in the late 1990's, the novel has held up well over time.
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.
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