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Timeline [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Stephen Lang
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,682 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 2006
Michael Crichton's new novel opens on the threshold of the twenty-first century. It is a world of exploding advances on the frontiers of technology. Information moves instantly between two points, without wires or networks. Computers are built from single molecules. Any moment of the past can be actualized -- and a group of historians can enter, literally, life in fourteenth-century
feudal France.


Imagine the risks of such a journey.


Not since Jurassic Park has Michael Crichton given us such a magnificent adventure. Here, he combines a science of the future -- the emerging field of quantum technology -- with the complex realities of the medieval past. In a heart-stopping narrative, Timeline carries us into a realm of unexpected suspense and danger, overturning our most basic ideas of what is possible.

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When you step into a time machine, fax yourself through a "quantum foam wormhole," and step out in feudal France circa 1357, be very, very afraid. If you aren't strapped back in precisely 37 hours after your visit begins, you'll miss the quantum bus back to 1999 and be stranded in a civil war, caught between crafty abbots, mad lords, and peasant bandits all eager to cut your throat. You'll also have to dodge catapults that hurl sizzling pitch over castle battlements. On the social front, you should avoid provoking "the butcher of Crecy" or Sir Oliver may lop your head off with a swoosh of his broadsword or cage and immerse you in "Milady's Bath," a brackish dungeon pit into which live rats are tossed now and then for prisoners to eat.

This is the plight of the heroes of Timeline, Michael Crichton's thriller. They're historians in 1999 employed by a tech billionaire-genius with more than a few of Bill Gates's most unlovable quirks. Like the entrepreneur in Crichton's Jurassic Park, Doniger plans a theme park featuring artifacts from a lost world revived via cutting-edge science. When the project's chief historian sends a distress call to 1999 from 1357, the boss man doesn't tell the younger historians the risks they'll face trying to save him. At first, the interplay between eras is clever, but Timeline swiftly becomes a swashbuckling old-fashioned adventure, with just a dash of science and time paradox in the mix. Most of the cool facts are about the Middle Ages, and Crichton marvelously brings the past to life without ever letting the pulse-pounding action slow down. At one point, a time-tripper tries to enter the Chapel of Green Death. Unfortunately, its custodian, a crazed giant with terrible teeth and a bad case of lice, soon has her head on a block. "She saw a shadow move across the grass as he raised his ax into the air." I dare you not to turn the page!

Through the narrative can be glimpsed the glowing bones of the movie that may be made from Timeline and the cutting-edge computer game that should hit the market in 2000. Expect many clashing swords and chase scenes through secret castle passages. But the book stands alone, tall and scary as a knight in armor shining with blood. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"And the Oscar for Best Special Effects goes to: Timeline!" Figure maybe three years before those words are spoken, for Crichton's new novelAdespite media reports about trouble in selling film rights, which finally went to ParamountAis as cinematic as they come, a shiny science-fantasy adventure powered by a superior high concept: a group of young scientists travel back from our time to medieval southern France to rescue their mentor, who's trapped there. The novel, in fact, may improve as a movie; its complex action, as the scientists are swept into the intrigue of the Hundred Years War, can be confusing on the page (though a supplied map, one of several graphics, helps), and most of its characters wear hats (or armor) of pure white or black. Crichton remains a master of narrative drive and cleverness. From the startling opening, where an old man with garbled speech and body parts materializes in the Arizona desert, through the revelation that a venal industrialist has developed a risky method of time-travel (based on movement between parallel universes; as in Crichton's other work, good, hard science abounds), there's not a dull moment. When elderly Yale history prof Edward Johnston travels back to his beloved 15th century and gets stuck, and his assistants follow to the rescue, excitement runs high, and higher still as Crichton invests his story with terrific period detail and as castles, sword-play, jousts, sudden death and enough bold knights-in-armor and seductive ladies-in-waiting to fill any toystore's action-figure shelves appear. There's strong suspense, too, as Crichton cuts between past and present, where the time-travel machinery has broken: Will the heroes survive and make it back? The novel has a calculated feel but, even so, it engages as no Crichton tale has done since Jurassic Park, as it brings the past back to vigorous, entertaining life. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. 1,500,000 first printing; Literary Guild nain selection; simultaneous large-print edition and audiobook. (Nov. 16)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great literature? No. Highly entertaining? Yes. July 12 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was especially eager to read Timeline because I had just returned from the Perigord, the region in France where most of the action in Crichton's time-travel book takes place. I had toured the grim castles and fortified towns he describes, and canoed down the exact stretch of the Dordogne that's at the heart of the book. I found that Chrichton was able to bring the medieval period vividly to life, far better than I'd been able to do as I toured the area. As usual, Crichton provides enough of a believable scientific basis for his story to allow an easy suspension of disbelief. I was even more impressed by the amount of research he did to be able to paint such a clear and convincing picture of the area in the mid 14th century. OK, his characters do get into one scrape after another, and help manages to arrive just in the nick of time. But the book still kept me turning the pages late into the night. Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation; and Medical Firsts: From Hippocrates to the Human Genome.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced and Highly Entertaining July 6 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Time travel is one of the most compelling sci-fi topics in Hollywood. Michael Crichton, a highly successful writer, took a more modern look at time travel. The premise of the story is based on the research done by theoretical physicists who speculate that there may be an infinite number of universes containing every alternative event that can exist across all time frames. By accessing these universes one could literally step into a past event. In the story a mythical company, ITC, is doing experimentation in three dimensional teletransportation. When they tried to send an object to a distant location it turned out that it wound up in the past-to be precise: 1357 in a place called Castlegard.
Robert Doniger, the CEO of ITC, saw an opportunity to make a ton of money. He wasn't really interested in the past but in the present. By knowing everything about Castelgard and the battle about to be fought there he could bring this knowledge to the present to create a life-like replica of the castle and village. He brought in archeologists and historians to rebuild the site without letting them know what was really up. When they began asking too many questions they were used as guinea pigs and were hurled back in time-or to another universe to be specific and suddenly were confronted with an alien culture that they were ill-equipped to handle.
The book is outstanding, keeping the reader constantly on edge as our heroes get themselves into and out of one jam after another, while trying to rescue the professor who wanted to know too much for his own good. Meanwhile, Doniger had little concern for his historians, considering them quite expendable so long as the press doesn't ask too many questions. He was such a despicable character one can almost guess he'll get his in the end.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Professor Johnston is working in France as the chief archaeologist on a dig of a historical medieval town when the multi-millionaire Robert Doniger, owner of ITC, the company financing his project, suddenly calls him away to the US. A few days later, his son, Chris, and the students working on the dig learn from ITC that the Professor has mysteriously disappeared. Not long after, while working on the site, they find, inside a room that has been sealed for over 600 years, a disturbing manuscript bearing the Professor's handwriting; and when the document is unquestionably dated to the year 1357 they quickly turn to ITC demanding to know the Professor's whereabouts. Doniger explains that ITC, whose intent is to create a historical theme park by using cutting-edge technology to bring the past to life, has discovered a way to travel in time through a quantum wormhole. The Professor, who was sent to 1357 France, missed his return window and hasn't been heard from since. Before long, Chris and a team of archaeologists, historians, and even the military are on a mission to find and rescue the Professor, but as soon as they are sent back, and with a rapidly approaching deadline of 37 hours, things turn horribly wrong, both in the present and the past, and their chances of success start to look less and less promising.
In this novel, Michael Crichton masterfully combines mystery, action, adventure, history, technology, and science to give us an engrossing read. Through great, well-defined characters, Crichton immerses us in a marvelous adventure of clashing swords, secret passages, invading armies, and mysterious knights, and transports us into a realistically rendered medieval world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Timeline May 30 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When i first started reading this book, i was forced to. I saw an add for the movie, and i really wanted to see it, but my dad has this rule that I can't watch a movie if it's based on a book until I have read the book. It's not that I wasn't interested in the book, I just heard some stuff that Micheal Crichton was a bad author and all. Boy was I wrong. Even the beginning of the book compells you into an adventure that is great. My bedtime is like, eight, so that is when i need to stop reading. Like I do! I went out into the kitchen and got a flashlight. Yep, that's how good it is. I always put down the book reluctantly, and only when I had to. Otherwise I was in my room, reading. The whole book makes you anxiously wait for the next chapter. So I read the book, then saw the movie. The movie was good, but in no comparison to the book. Timeline is my favorite book. I could picture what was happening during the whole book. I am reading Jurassic Park now. It's good, but not as good as Timeline. I'd be surprised if anything was. But really it just is a good book with a lot of interesting stuff. I read it in a couple of days. The book is huge! That's how much time I spent reading the book, that's how good it is. I'm sorry if I'm no help, but my opinion is, get this book no matter what it takes. Seriously, this book is da' bomb. If you like medieval time books, then this book is a must have. Thanks for reading.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent reading
Excellent story to read. If you have seen the movie, don't panic. the story is similar but the plot in the book is totally different. You won't be disappointed. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Maurice
5.0 out of 5 stars Great adventure!
I could not put this down. The story moves quickly and is a real page turner. The concept of time travel has always fascinated me, as well as archeology so this novel was a... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Terri Nicholson
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeline
This book was an enjoyable read for me. The story follows a group of archaeologist trying to bring back back their boss from the pass. Read more
Published on March 4 2011 by Carol
2.0 out of 5 stars Stolen Ideas and Written for Hollywood
I don't quite know when Michael Crichton's writing style started to do downhill. Perhaps he's spending too much time working on ER, or maybe he is too busy living off the proceeds... Read more
Published on March 20 2005 by NorthVan Dave
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall a fun read
This was a very easy read for me, after reading Great Expectations and Les Miserbles I needed something easy and extremely entertaining, this fit the bill perfectly. Read more
Published on July 18 2004 by Sloppy-Joe
4.0 out of 5 stars Way Better than the Movie
Don't see the movie, but read the book- not a big crichton fan either, but liked this one.
Published on July 14 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW! Truly a classic
In an Arizona desert a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within 24 hours he is dead, his body quickly cremated by his only known associates. Read more
Published on July 1 2004 by "radioactive_foxhound"
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Travel
I've read all of Michael Crichton's fiction, and this is my very favorite. I appreciate the historical research that must have been involved. Read more
Published on June 26 2004 by "darkdove62"
4.0 out of 5 stars The Book is Better
I think the book is 100 times better than the movie. I think the vision and suspense in the book could not be carried onto the movie. Mr. Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by Ahmad A. Mumtaz
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like Michael Crichton you'll like this book.
The title of this review pretty much sums it up. It doesn't matter if you're a history buff. It's fiction!!! Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by James Cohn
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