Timescape Paperback – 1982
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Suspense builds in this novel about scientists, physics, time travel, and saving the Earth. It's 1998, and a physicist in Cambridge, England, attempts to send a message backward in time. Earth is falling apart, and a government faction supports the project in hopes of diverting or avoiding the environmental disasters beginning to tear at the edges of civilization. It's 1962, and a physicist in California struggles with his new life on the West Coast, office politics, and the irregularities of data that plague his experiments. The story's perspective toggles between time lines, physicists, and their communities. Timescape presents the subculture and world of scientists in microcosm: the lab, the loves, the grappling for grants, the pressures from university and government, the rewards and trials of relationships with spouses, the pressures of the scientific race, and the thrill of discovery.
Timescape merits the tag "hard science fiction"; it tells the story of scientists, and readers can't help but learn something about tachyons and physics while reading it. Yet much of the story is about humanity: the men John Renfrew and Gordon Bernstein and their relationships--between husband and wife, lover and lover, English working class and upper class, professor and student, and academician and colleagues.
Winner of the Nebula Award in 1980 and the John W. Clark Award in 1981, Timescape offers readers a great yarn, in terms of both humanity and science. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
1998. Earth is falling apart, on the brink of ecological disaster. But in England a tachyon scientist is attempting to contact the past, to somehow warn them of the misery and death their actions and experiments have visited upon a ravaged planet.
1962. JFK is still president, rock 'n' roll is king, and the Vietnam War hardly merits front-page news. A young assistant researcher at a California university, Gordon Bernstein, notices strange patterns of interference in a lab experiment. Against all odds, facing ridicule and opposition, Bernstein begins to uncover the incredible truth... a truth that will change his life and alter history... the truth behind time itself. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The 1963 scientists start to recieve transmissions during an experiment unrelated to the future. What happens is that one group of scientists are labeled kooks because they originally believe that they may be recieving information from outerspace. What the readers find out about scientists is that they are just like everybody else and will fight over trivial matters instead of concentrating on the work. The 1963 timeframe is recieving information about long chain molecule chemicals of which it has no knowledge yet and this has set off the controversey.
Timescape is chock full of hard science. Benford has written a book based on sound thoery of tachyons and more than one possible universes including mini-universes. He has made the theories easily understandable without clouding the explanation with intricate math. The reader can gain a working knowledge of both multi-universes and the idea of tachyons. The fact he was able to weave these heavy ideas into a well written story is amazing. This book is well worth the effort and is highley reccommended.
For anybody who complains that Science Fiction struggles to gain respect because of poor development of characters, I offer this book. The characters are uninteresting and actually take away from some of the Physics ideas and concepts of this book. I suppose we were supposed to relate to the human side of this story, but that could have been done quite as well and with about 100 pages or so less.
Perhaps the inside dealings of the characters' every day lives was done purposely. For the science in this sci-fi book was wonderful and the idea was great. So much so that the inclusion of the meanderings of the characters every day lives served as filler which in turn acted as a form of building suspense.
My recommendation...read the book, but skip over certain sections. They don't add to the book, but on the other hand they don't take away from it either. Otherwise its a good sci-fi offering.
Let the tachyons flow.
This novel centers around this idea of sending messages back in time. To begin, the story starts in 1998, and the world is about to die, literally. The earth can no longer support any plants or animals, and the seas are over-run with algal blooms. In a last ditch attempt, the scientists have attempted to send messages into the past in order to alter the future. The messages are sent back to 1963 through a physiscs technique that is too complicated to explain. The messages are received, and that is where all the problems start as to what they scientists in 1963 actually received.
This whole story line is actually an excellent idea, and is backed up through the use of science. However, the novel distracts from the overall success by containing useless information. The author goes to great lenghts to describe the psyche and social tendencies of all the major scientists involved. In some cases, the author describes the interactions of family members of the scientists who play a severly limited role in the novel. As a result, there is pointless material located in the novel. If the novel would have simply stuck to the above storyline, it definetly would have rated higher. However, with the influx of superfulous information, the novel can seem tedious and boring at points.
On a positive note, the novel ends well by explaining what has happened and why there are no real paradoxes. A new future has been created, and nobody knows what will happen.
Most recent customer reviews
The premise of the book -- scientists trying to contact the near past in order to divert environmental disaster -- is interesting. Read morePublished on March 16 2004 by Kathy Christman
A Nebula winner, and one of a handful of hard SF books considered a classic. I'll admit that hard SF doesn't gel well with my personal reading tastes with its emphasis on... Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2004 by Claude Avary
...buried in 500 pages of tiresome drivel.
Fortunately it's easy to skim through or even skip 30 or 40 pages at a time without missing anything "important. Read more
This is no fast & quick read. It's also one where it is very easy to miss the point. And the point lies in the human element and the very human part of the plot. Read morePublished on Jan. 30 2003 by Neal Reynolds
This is one of the best time travel / warp books written. Benford pushes the genre of "hard science" fiction in this novel, so be prepared. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2002 by Tom Wilkinson
1. This book actually tells you what food items are available in a restaurant menu!
2. This book is not environmental friendly, because only 10% of the 400 pages tells a... Read more
Outside of '1984', this is the one sci-fi book that really stayed with me. The science (as presented) was very believable, and the depiction of what the lives of scientists are... Read morePublished on March 5 2002 by Dan
When reading Timescape in the here and now one could feel a bit cynical and criticise the novel on a number of fronts. For its time, however, Timescape was groundbreaking stuff. Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2002 by Michael J. Lane
I have read this book three times, and will read it again in the future. The problems of time-travel are usually skimmed over in science fiction. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2001 by Donna Mearing