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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  9,899 ratings  ·  308 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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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,899 ratings  ·  308 reviews

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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
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
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 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 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
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.
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
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
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
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 ligh
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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,
Nicholas Whyte
Jan 05, 2012 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
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.
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.
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
Jun 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: time-travel, sci-fi
In 1998, the earth is dying in an unspectacular way. I kept picturing a big, molding orange.
Desperate, some 1998 scientists figure out a way to beam messages back to some stock characters that were alive in 1963. The three main scientists in 1998 can be hard to differentiate by their dialog or behavior except one is an out-of-control sex maniac who, without furthering the plot at all, has sex with EVERY female character except his wife. I think the reader is supposed to dislike him but this com
Jul 16, 2009 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
Heath Lesjak
Dec 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
To be fair, I only read the first half of the book, and then gave up. However, in that first half, the characters mostly just annoyed me and I wasn't really able to identify with any of them, except perhaps the English wife of the obnoxious 'future' scientist who comes up with the time loop concept.

What I think was the most absurd is that the characters explain to each other (regularly!) how the time-loop avoids paradoxes by allowing for neutral signals and/or interference. They're like "you can
Jan 28, 2017 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
A. J. McMahon
Nov 07, 2015 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
Sep 05, 2012 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 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
Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann
Umm, hmm, eh.... I just don't know to say about this book right now. I was really hoping for much better however.
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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
“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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