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3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  8,518 Ratings  ·  236 Reviews
The author of  Tides of Light  offers his Nebula Award-winning SF classic--a combination of hard science, bold speculation, and human drama. In the year 1998, a group of scientists works desperately to communicate with the scientists of 1962, warning of an ecological disaster that will destroy the oceans in the future--if it is not averted in the past.
Paperback, 499 pages
Published January 13th 1992 by Bantam Books (first published 1980)
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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
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
Connie Dyer
Jun 30, 2012 Connie Dyer rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 17, 2017 Kelley rated it liked it
For about the first 150 pages, I considered DNFing this novel. But it slowly picked up. While I still think the novel is too long--by at least 100 pages, due to detailed descriptions of building architecture and what characters had for dinner--I ended up giving it 3 1/2 stars. The story came together, becoming quite interesting, and by the end, was exploring the possibility/probability of a (view spoiler). One must remember this was written in 1980! (I wonder if it's t ...more
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
Nov 06, 2008 Jackie rated it did not like it
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.
Jul 31, 2010 Ron rated it it was amazing
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
-De lo interesante desde la perspectiva de género y pero no así desde lo estrictamente literario.-

Género. Ciencia ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. El desastre medioambiental es la principal amenaza para la humanidad en 1998. Un físico de Cambridge, John Renfrew, demuestra que es capaz de enviar un mensaje al pasado usando la ciencia y propone avisar, en lugar y forma adecuados a la única naturaleza posible del mensaje, para que pongan los medios necesarios y eviten la situación catastrófica. En 1963 y
Joy Pixley
Jun 29, 2016 Joy Pixley rated it liked it
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
Branko Savić
Apr 27, 2017 Branko Savić rated it liked it
Otprilike kao i prethodni Benfordov roman koji sam procitao Artifact, odlicna nauka, tacnije kvantna fizika, i sve ostalo moze slobodno da se preskoci. Ocena 2.5
Nicholas Whyte
Jan 05, 2012 Nicholas Whyte rated it liked it

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
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
Jul 16, 2009 Scott rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 29, 2011 Greg rated it it was ok
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
A. J. McMahon
Nov 07, 2015 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
Jan 28, 2017 Thom rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Three of the last ten books I read have delved into 1962 and 1963, and of them this was the worst.

Gregory Benford has a solid science background, and creates a plausible story of what if. In this novel, a message is sent back through time in an attempt to improve the (then futuristic) world of 1998, which is suffering a massive environmental collapse. The scientists debate paradox, saying it would stop their progress, but ultimately ignore the idea. Unfortunately, the authors ideas on paradox an
Sep 05, 2012 Adriane rated it really liked it
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
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)
Nov 20, 2009 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
May 31, 2017 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: nebula
A surprisingly good read from Benson, considering the subject matter blurs the line between real and speculative physics in a way that the average reader will be unlikely to determine where the fictional science begins. Read this book if you like physics, or would like a brutally depicted future world where our environmental carelessness comes back to haunt us.

The core science of this book details the theoretical tachyon particle and how its faster than light velocity may enable a sort of time t
Benjamin Kahn
Oct 17, 2014 Benjamin Kahn rated it liked it
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.
Artur Coelho
Jul 05, 2012 Artur Coelho rated it it was amazing
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
Ash Chakraborty
Dec 08, 2010 Ash Chakraborty rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers of hard sci-fi
Recommended to Ash by: amazon's kindle library
From my blog,

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
Oct 05, 2007 Brooke rated it liked it
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
Frank Taranto
Jun 05, 2009 Frank Taranto rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2008 Amaha rated it really liked it
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
Nov 10, 2010 Christina Tang-Bernas rated it it was amazing
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
Pedro Enguita
Muy buen libro. Magníficamente escrito. Lástima que Benford no siguiera en esta línea.

El libro gustará a cualquier persona a la que le guste la ciencia. Desgrana la trastienda del trabajo científico como solo un científico es capaz de hacerlo. Es ciencia ficción hard pero no atosiga con palabros raros ni descripciones aburridísimas. Solo literatura. Y de la buena. En su día me sorprendió cómo era capaz de cambiar de registro, de calmadas descripciones a vibrantes diálogos.
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.
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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 about Gregory Benford...

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“The universe of artifacts was a human one.” 2 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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