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Timescape

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  6,551 ratings  ·  153 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
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Published March 27th 2008 by Recorded Books (first published 1980)
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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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Connie Dyer
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
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
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Jackie
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.
Ron
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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Henry
I first read this a long time ago and remember enjoying it - but nothing else. So I was intrigued to get into it again, after picking up a copy in a secondhand bookstore. My verdict now is this is a thoroughly absorbing and enjoyable read. Poignant and elegiac, it takes its time to unspool, and like all really good reads, you have to put some effort in.

It portrays the scientific life extremely well, especially in California in the early 1960s. It is there, at La Jolla, that geeky, Jewish assist
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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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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
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
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Scott
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
Ash Chakraborty
Jun 17, 2011 Ash Chakraborty rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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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
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
John Loyd
Timescape (1980) 366 pages by Gregory Benford

I really liked this book. Benford did his best to give us a plausible way for the future to contact the past. There are two sets of characters, past (1962) and future (1998). In 1998 the world is a mess, Renfrew happens to be doing his work with tachyons, which happen to travel backwards in time. They just don't interact with any matter, except indium. It turns out back in 1962 Gordon Bernstein was doing an experiment with indium, but he was getting a
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Allan Dyen-shapiro
Benford stated about this book that his goal was to convince the reader that the concept of time in physics was no well understood. That's an unusual goal for a novel. This is a novel about physics. The goal is to get you to think about physics concepts.

And that's why it was recommended to me. A paradigm in time travel fiction, pretty much unlike anything that came since. If tachyons, particles that move faster than light, existed, backward time travel would be possible. That's cool. And the aut
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Sandra Petojevic
We can send messages from the past to the future and thus alter our future, but what if there are possibilities to alter history by sending messages from the future to the past? Then what will happen? In the book there is a temporal communication between the year 1998 and the years 1962 and 1963, and the topic (warning for coming environmental crisis) is STILL very actual. And yes, the tragic day of November 22, 1963 with the death of JFK is slowly but surely approaching - can THAT too be altere ...more
Yahanan Xie
For an early 90s novel, I did not expect temporal science fiction was already this advanced. There are plenty of interesting thoughts and theories, some I've thought as well like the continuous loop, half way on/off switch, there's really no "past" and "future", just "now", etc.

However, I was saddened that the story ended up going the "split timeline" theory to solve paradoxes. It doesn't fit the whole plot and explanation presented. Somehow it was just patched.

For example, everything was good
...more
T.S. S. Fulk
3.5 stars.

The science fiction bits about tachyons and sending messages to the past were wonderful and interesting; however, they were interspaced with long passages of boring social drama. I get that the authors were trying to make the tragedy more tragic buy giving us more insight into the lives of the characters (few of which were all that likable even with the extra fluff), but I really think it could have been edited with 100-150 less pages and still been effective.
Trekscribbler
Erm ... I've been lambasted before for deigning to take the time to pen a review regarding a novel I couldn't finish, but -- apologies, folks -- I just can't help myself. In short, I've waded through the first quarter of Gregory Benford's TIMESCAPE ... and I just can't take no more. Granted, it's clearly a heady topic of the writer -- Benford spends an inordinate amount of time over the minutiae of our human existence (dinner parties, restaurant menus, leveling shelves, etc.) balanced between th ...more
John Ayliff
Hard science fiction books are about science, but most are about the speculative potential of the world as revealed by science; few put much focus on the way science is done. This is a book about scientists working in labs, one group in 1998 attempting to send a message back to another group in 1962. The challenges they face are more often to do with academic politics and the gritty details of lab work than with the book's speculative science.

The scientific explanations are dense, but they have
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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
Gendou
Books about time travel are almost all trash.
This book is a stark exception.
It is serious without being self-important.
Hard science fiction without being stuffy.
Best of all, many of the main characters are physicists, which made me happy.
Brett
Some interesting (and to me, plausible) physics ideas. I definitely had to think about the time/space questions brought up. However, there are no likeable characters, and it drags.

I didn't find the biology very credible, but that's ok. Certainly suffers from age a bit -- in his "future" (1998), feminism has advanced far enough that barefoot dinner-cooking housewives can sleep with whomever. Meh. I can't blame the author for being wrong about the future (digital doesn't even exist, just really ad
...more
_paegan_
Ow, my brain hurts.
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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...
Foundation's Fear (Second Foundation Trilogy, #1) In the Ocean of Night (Galactic Center, #1) Heart of the Comet Great Sky River (Galactic Center, #3) Across the Sea of Suns (Galactic Center, #2)

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