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Timescape

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  10,277 ratings  ·  351 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 January 1st 1980)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  10,277 ratings  ·  351 reviews


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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
...more
Jokoloyo
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the earliest Hard science fiction novel that I have read. A mind blowing for a simple reader who just thought faster than light concept was it was moving very fast. A solid gold five star book in idea side.

I have read some of author's short stories, and failed read one of his Galactic Center novel. Even with all that negative experience, I could finish read this book. The plot and storytelling is slow, as if confirmed my low expectation before reading this book. But you should read this b
...more
Lyn
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Peter enters the room, greeted by Bob Slydell and Bob Porter.

Bob: Well, Peter, it seems you’ve been missing a lot of work lately.

Peter: I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing work, Bob!

All laugh

Bob: Peter, we just want to get an idea about what you do here at Initech. Bur first, we wanted to talk about Timescape, the 1980 Nebula Award winner from author Gregory Benford.

Peter: Ah, hey, that’s a great book, I really enjoyed reading it.

Bob: We did too! I mean, for a science heavy, hard SF book, it had gr
...more
Baba
SF Masterworks #27 - On the face of it, a tale of two time-scapes - 1998, where a climate disaster is about to likely destroy the human food chains amongst other things; so a group of Cambridge UK based physicists think they found a way of sending a warning message back in the past ...to - 1962, in an America of Martin Luther King and JFK, a group of scientists are surprised when they start to get, what appears to be messages, turning up in one of their experiments. And if the message is somehow ...more
Connie Dyer
Jun 30, 2012 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
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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Kelley
Jun 17, 2017 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
Jackie
Nov 06, 2008 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.
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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
Denis
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: do-not-own
I enjoyed this one very much. I loved the whole idea of "we" of the future (or rather 'near past' as the story is set in 1998) attempting to communicate with those of the 'more-past' (1962) to warn them of an ecological disaster that could be prevented if certain chemicals are not released into the ocean which will cause devastating algal blooms. If this were possible,could we warn those of the early 20th century not to use asbestos, or discourage the use of disposable plastics or the burning of ...more
Debbie
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Maybe I’ve read too many time travel books or seen too many Twilight Zone episodes, but when I read a novel that involves time travel and part of it takes place in 1962, I expect to see a message being sent saying TELL KENNEDY NOT TO GO TO DALLAS IN NOVEMBER!! Not a bunch of environmental warnings about the sea that nobody in the past can decipher. OK, so what happens does in an oblique way affect the Kennedy assassination. But I had to wade through 500 pages filled with physics and science desc ...more
J.M. Hushour
This isn't a bad book, but that's not to say it is entirely a good book, either. There is a weird tension in this novel for me, anyway because what I usually find lacking in science fiction books (e.g. characters) is oversaturated here whereas what I usually find enjoyable in science fiction (e.g. utter wackiness) is here kind of boring and even dull by the standards of the characters dealing with the problems.

Spoilers! Follow beware!

The premise is clever: peeps in a dying 1998 (the book dates f
...more
Greg Kennedy
Oct 29, 2011 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
...more
Gabi
Okay, this was not for me.

The good part was the idea and the scientific approach. It was apparent that the time travel ideas were founded on solid physics science of the time of the writing and not some timey wimey stuff to help the plot.

Yet the fascination of the author with the medium turned the scientific parts more or less into lectures that did not help to build an exciting or thrilling plot (which the idea of the narrative would have been wonderful for).

Most of the time the actual SF plot
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Oleksandr Zholud
This is a hard SF novel that won Nebula Award for 1980, which I’ve read as a part of Monthly reads in Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels

As the title suggests, this book is about time travel. However, unlike the previous stories on the subject it is less interested in adventures in the past/future of time travelers (there will be none) but in actual physics, which theoretically allows sending information to the past by using tachyons (theoretically possible particles that move faster than light).
...more
Adrian
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sable
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read for the 12 Awards in 12 Months Reading Challenge, the Apocalypse Now! Reading Challenge, the Hard Core Sci-fi Reading Challenge, and the SF Masterworks Reading Challenge and the Science Fiction Masterworks Book Club.

Method of the world's destruction: A major failure of chemical balance in the oceans, mostly caused by an overabundance of hydrocarbons, overwhelms the ecosystem and leads to a toxic ocean bloom.

This book won the BSFA, Campbell and Nebula Awards (1981).

I am fascinated by the mix
...more
Ron
Jul 31, 2010 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
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Buck
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
Gendou
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Joy Pixley
Jun 29, 2016 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
...more
CS Barron
Mar 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
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
Nicholas Whyte
Jan 05, 2012 rated it liked it
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
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 20, 2009 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
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Slow, with annoying characters. I got highly irritated by some bits, and probably missed key explanations because I listened (distracted and bored) to the audiobook. I can see why it won a Nebula for the science, but the other 75% was a protracted snoozefest of old-fashioned stereotype-laden domestics.
Amun (Mohamed Elbadwihi)
The sexism is strong with this one, and so is the casual racism. "You can't judge an old book by the standards of today", and I agree. If you enjoy reading books from years past like I do, you know that they're often accompanied by a heavy load of outdated ideas, stereotypes, and social norms. Science fiction is not immune to that, even though you can often find highly progressive and forward-thinking books in the genre that were written at a time where such ideas were inexistent.

Having to imagi
...more
Brent Ecenbarger
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Gregory Benford writes hard science fiction. This feels real, well thought out, and grounded in science. It also feels joyless and a slog to get through at times. Much like Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher, Timescape features dual storylines, one taking place decades before the other. Also like Dreamcatcher, I enjoyed the portions set in the past and thought the present day storyline was a bore. (I say present day, but this book was published in 1980, and the present day portion is in the late 1990’s ...more
Mitchell
A Nebula award-winning re-read. And if I had written reviews way back when, maybe I wouldn't have re-read it. I remembered specific details so well - the mention of jfk, a not-quite-chance meeting in the epilogue, the basic concept of communicating between the future and the past. And a vague memory of what happens to the future afterwards. But really nothing else. So I didn't remember pretty much hating all the characters. And sure this book may describe academic science, but if so it does it i ...more
Benjamin Kahn
Oct 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Tommy Carlson
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Read a blog post somewhere about really mind-blowing novels. Timescape was mentioned. I've read a couple other books by Benford, so I took a shot.

The bottom line? There's a really awesome novella here, mired in a lot of boring attempts at characterization.

The main idea is that the world is in an ecological mess but tachyons have been discovered. (Tachyons are theoretical particles that always travel faster than light. This makes them also go back in time. No, they most likely do not exist, but t
...more
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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

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