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Timescape by Gregory Benford
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Sep 04, 10

bookshelves: science-fiction
Read from August 31 to September 04, 2010

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 Cambridge, UK (written in 1979) tastes just as authentic. The gloomy future is the worst of all possible worlds as projected by liberals and conservatives about the time Benford wrote. (Remember James Gallagher's England? Or Jimmy Carter, huddling in his cardigan sweater, telling the nation that the future would be cold, gloomy and small? Or Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" (1964)?)

Benford also captures the horror of science (and it might as well be arts) dictated by government committees interested in only in practical applications. And the tyranny of the established opinion: such as today's string theorists who will not even admit to alternative models of physical reality. Or Darwinists who shout down not only creationists but anyone questioning their orthodox beliefs.

Well worth reading.
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