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Timescape

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,925 Ratings  ·  200 Reviews
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 196 ...more
Leather Bound, 412 pages
Published 1989 by The Easton Press (first published 1980)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brad
The Coolness—

• This book won the Nebula in 1980! Pretty cool for it and the author, Gregory Benford. It would have been nice for Hilary Foister to share in the credit, though, considering she supposedly co-wrote this with Benford.

• It deals with tachyons! (once in a while)

• It works well as a mild sedative.

The Meh!-ness—

• There are some cool bits of forward thinking in this book, although none of them are truly prophetic, and they needed to be if they were going to be better than average. Benfor
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Stuart
Timescape: Intimate but slow-moving story about scientists
Originally published at Fantasy Literature
Timescape (1980) has been on my TBR list for 35+ years, and I've long wanted to read the work of physicist Gregory Benford. The book won the Nebula Award, and it deals with time paradoxes, which I find fascinating but invariably unconvincing. First off, most of the book’s considerable length is devoted to a slow-moving and detailed portrait of scientists (mostly physicists, but also some biologist
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Connie Dyer
Jul 02, 2012 Connie Dyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's interesting to read the mixed reviews on this book. Surprising that of those who liked it many felt it was long, dense, too much detail, too much science, or science that was hard to understand. Oddly, my recollection of reading it multiple times back when it first came out was that both the writing and plot development were remarkably elegant and spare. And that surely is one reason it won the Nebula. There was just enough science in my view, described as was fitting for the advancement of ...more
Jackie
Nov 06, 2008 Jackie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of potential but never realized. Too wordy with unintelligable technical jargon. I hated the end, though it was probably more realistic than another scenario.
This is the first and only time I ever threw a book in the garbage after reading it. I just couldn't inflict anyone I know with it.
Sesana
Timescape is both a fascinating, hard SF book about sending messages backwards through time to save the world and a dull soap opera. The premise is that the world is on the brink of total ecological disaster in 1998, because of the overuse of pesticides. Scientists have discovered how to use tachyons to send a message to the past, with a warning and pointers on how to avoid the catastrophe. The messages are received by a lone scientist in 1963.

The SF portions of the book are really well-done. Th
...more
Ron
Sep 04, 2010 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is it: good, hard science fiction. The science is so hard my head hurts. The fiction is so imaginative that separating fact from fiction requires too much thought, too. Best of all the people and place "ring true" even though you know—don't you?—that some of them can't possibly be factual. With each point of view shift the reader is taken inside the mind and the world of that character.

Benford has no trouble recreating southern California in the 60s because he lived it, but his 1998 Cambrid
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Joy Pixley
I can see why this book won a Nebula. Benford packs a lot of different ideas and threads into the book without making it epic (either in length or feeling). It's an interesting take for a hard science fiction book, especially in that era, that he spends so much time on the human element of the story.

We see two time periods. We start in 1998, which was 18 years into the future at the time the book was written. This future world is experiencing economic, political, and increasingly environmental
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Nicholas Whyte
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1799572...

Written in 1980, with storylines set in 1962-63 and 1998, this is a scientists' sf novel, the future 1998 world facing ecological and social catastrophe and its physicists trying to communicate with their predecessors to prevent it from happening.

As a Cambridge NatSci graduate I loved the visceral detail of the decaying 1998 setting, though Benford failed to predict one element of real life decay, the extinction of independent bookshops - he still has Bowe
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Buck Ward
In 1998 the world economy is failing due in large part to ecological collapse. Scientists experiment with sending a message of warning, via tachyons, to the past. The message is received by scientists in 1963 among controversy as to its authenticity. That's the science fiction part of the book, a relatively small part. The story gets bogged down in interpersonal conflicts and social vagaries in the lives of the scientists, their colleagues, department heads, and funding sources. It just goes on ...more
Joe
Feb 11, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: award-winner
I read this years ago and enjoyed the idea immensely. I seem to recall that the made for TV version of The Andromeda Strain in 2008 used the main idea from Timescape (communication from the future to warn the past to avoid a mistake that devastates humanity in the future)
A. J. McMahon
Mar 13, 2016 A. J. McMahon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Science fiction is a kind of fiction that depends more on its ideas than any other kind of fiction. This often means that if an author simply cannot write at all, or does not write very well, they can get away with their failings if the ideas and the storyline are interesting enough. Benford is one of those authors who can hardly write at all. He seems to think that in order to describe something, it is only necessary to pile up enough descriptive terms about it. This is not so. There is a cruci ...more
Adriane
I really liked it, as others have said it was a bit heavy handed on the physics, but I really didn't expect anything else from an actual physics professor. Also I found the info fascinating even though it did take me out of the story a little bit. The idea is fully formed and the story well thought out, my main complaint is that I wanted to know more about the actual toxin/virus (it's not super clear) and how it was causing the die-off and how it was moving. But that's because I'm interested in ...more
Greg
Nov 19, 2011 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't get through it... The science is interesting and clearly written, but it's just background noise to the character drama on the forefront. This novel's big problem is that it has aspirations to be something more: it wants so badly to be Real Literature (tm)... to elevate sci fi out of its genre gutter... but it only rarely reaches that level. The rest of the time is spent fumbling around in an overly wordy mix of boring interpersonal struggles.

Every so often it hits the mark. There is a
...more
Scott
May 12, 2011 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This book has rightly been called a classic of the hard science fiction genre. The novel's portrayal of scientists engaged in research, and the internal politics of research groups in physics, is realistic and believable. I base that assessment on my own experiences working in a condensed matter physics lab as an undergraduate, as well as on my short stint as an accelerator physics graduate student working daily at a lab facility. Benford wrote "Timescape" in 1979-80, and the book alternates bet ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This is a fascinating and gripping novel, full of ideas, expressed lyrically but with precision and peopled with well-rounded characters whose personal and inner lives are not merely dimension-lending addenda to the story. It falls apart a bit because there are maybe too many ideas, too many strands of thought and speculation - time travel, time paradoxes, multiple universes, the nature of time, of reality, of causation, unpredictable outcomes, environmental myopia and so forth. These are all in ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
This is one of the best time travel novels I've read. This is one of the earliest places where the "time-streams" vs "time paradox" question begins to be dealt with. Can time be changed? What will happen if you change time? If you go back to change time and succeed will you ever go back in the first place and then will time be changed? Does an attempt set up a loop in time? Will it provoke an entirely new universe..or maybe simply move the time traveler into an already existing but different uni ...more
Benjamin Kahn
A good, compelling book but it sags a bit in the middle. I probably would have given it more stars had they cut out about a hundred pages.

It starts very quickly - earth in trouble, the oceans are dying, but we might be able to send a message back into time to save the planet. The first 250 pages or so just sped along. Then the whole thing grinds to a halt. There's a long period of time where nothing happens - Gordon Bernstein, from 1963, becomes a laughing stock because the messages stop coming.
...more
Ash Chakraborty
Jun 17, 2011 Ash Chakraborty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of hard sci-fi
Recommended to Ash by: amazon's kindle library
From my blog, FindingArth.com:

And this is what I live for - Science Fiction at its raw, logical, yet creative best! With Timescape, Physicist Greg Benford has masterfully intertwined plausible fiction based on the cutting edge theories of particle physics with detailed social caricatures of the characters that are involved in various facets of the academic endeavor. The novel won a Nebula award in 1980.

The whole backdrop is that of a calamity ridden future desperately trying to manipulate certai
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Artur Coelho
Jul 08, 2012 Artur Coelho rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A história é enganadoramente simples. Num futuro, que curiosamente já é o nosso passado, o planeta encontra-se à beira de um colapso ecológico. Por entre catástrofes e restrições cada vez mais profundas, os cientistas vão-se esforçando por tentar colmatar as cada vez mais intensas eclosões destrutivas. Apenas um projecto promete difusamente ser bem sucedido, assente numa ideia improvável de comunicar com o passado utilizando taquiões, partículas capazes de se propagar no sentido inverso da seta ...more
Brooke
Oct 05, 2007 Brooke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: temporal physicists
A few weeks ago I got desperate for reading material and turned to the book shelf in my apartment building lobby where people give away/borrow books. This book sounded promising, so I decided to try it out until I could make a run to the book store.
This book received a Nebula award, I think mainly for it's innovative imaginings about the future of physics. What was especially interesting is that the book is set in 1998 and, if I remember correctly, published in the ealry 80's? Reading it now, s
...more
Frank Taranto
Jun 05, 2009 Frank Taranto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A book with interesting characterss, a good plot and interesting science makes a very good Hard Sf book.
The book revolves around scientists in the future (1998, when the book was written anyway) trying to send a message to the past in 1962 about the dangers and disasters caused by indiscriminate use of pesticides causing huge ecological problems.
John Renfrew is the future scientist sending the messages and Gordon Bernstein is the past scientist receiving them. Their stories are both told form th
...more
Amaha
Contemporary readers of Timescape may find it a little dated and predictable- particularly the final "twist" which deals with the paradox of time travel (i.e., what happens when knowledge of "the future" alters "the past", thereby causing the original future to go out of existence). The way that Timescape deals with this issue won't be particularly surprising for anyone who has read a book or watched a movie on this theme. But that is largely a reflection of how influential this book (written in ...more
Christina Tang-Bernas
I loved this book but it took a while to develop the plot and characters. I loved this book but I have a hunch that not many people will agree with me. The reason I say this is that this book is dense with hard physics and leaps of non-intuitive logic. It can be hard to fully enjoy the book if one doesn't take the time necessary to think things through. Add to that characters that are mostly unsympathetic and a vague and probably relatively depressing ending, it is not a fun summer read. But if ...more
Kirk Macleod
Jul 29, 2016 Kirk Macleod rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hitting my first science fiction novel of the 1980s on my list of David Pringle's Science Fiction: The 100 Best Books: An English Language Selection: 1949-1984 feels like a pretty big accomplishment. At this point I've read 94 of the 100 novels listed, and am really looking forward to completing this list.

Timescape (1980), by Gregory Benford follows two separate timelines, one beginning in 1998 and the other in 1962 and both follow scientists (two in an ecological disaster ridden United Kingdom
...more
Benjamin Atkinson
Gregory Benford's first novel, Timescape, is definitely not his best. I have read four of his novels and the arc of improvement is astounding. Timescape, without giving away any spoilers, is based around a big, hard sf idea. Unfortunately, the characters (which I usually am willing to look past if the ideas are good enough) are so bad that it distracts from the novel. The only thing worse than the characters is their seemingly endless and inane dialogue. There is about 100 pages in this novel th ...more
CS Barron
Mar 19, 2016 CS Barron rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been called "hard science fiction" by some reviewers as a way to emphasize the accuracy of the author's hard science and to excuse the book's problems as a novel. I don't buy that. The word fiction still lies in the term "hard science fiction" and I'm holding this book to the standards for fiction.

By which standards this book fails miserably. The male characters are bland and wonk-y, like talking heads for the author's scientific theories. Each one has a few distinguishing quirks,
...more
Pvw
Feb 05, 2016 Pvw rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
When an organic mutation dubbed 'the bloom' is rapidly changing the Earth's biosphere in 1998, an international committee is formed to oversee the different efforts for human survival. One of the funded projects is the sending of a message back in time through a sample of indium that has previously been used in laboratory during an experiment in 1963. Modifying the resonance in the crystal using tachyons, the scientists manage to induce the same pulses in the sample from 1963 and thus are able t ...more
ScoLgo
Physicists as rock stars. Meh. While I did find Benford's style of writing to be very readable, the overall problem I had with this book; it's kind of boring. Benford has an almost mystical reverence for 'The Equations' and spends an inordinate amount of time inside his character's heads as they think about and work upon 'The Equations'. Sorry, but that does not make a compellingly nail-biting storyline. At least not for me.

My other complaint is - with a couple of exceptions - the lack of charac
...more
Onur
Jul 03, 2015 Onur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gregory Benford's Timescape has long been considered classics of the genre. The author, who is a renowned astrophysicist and also claimed for himself, having written about computer viruses in the late 1960s, long before it actually gave them, is known for "hard science fiction" to write. Compared to normal science fiction entertainment, he focuses on the scientific aspect and presented in his first great novel issues that are actually subject of scientific debate. And it is only in theory. That ...more
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Other authors like Benford? 3 29 Feb 03, 2013 01:52PM  
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Gregory Benford is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine.

As a science fiction author, Benford is best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977). This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare wit
...more
More about Gregory Benford...

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“The universe of artifacts was a human one.” 1 likes
“On Friday there was a department Colloquium on plasma physics, given by Norman Rostoker. Gordon went and sat well in the back. Rostoker’s first slide was: Seven Phases of the Thermonuclear Fusion Program I Exultation II Confusion III Disenchantment IV Search for the Guilty V Punishment of the Innocent VI Distinction for the Uninvolved VII Burying the Bodies/Scattering the Ashes” 0 likes
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