Book Review: Timeline By Michael Crichton 5/5 Stars; leave it to Crichton to revitalize the past with such a vigorous and entertaining novel and a possible prescience for the infinite possibilities of science.
Timeline carries the reader into a realm of unexpected suspense and danger, often altering our most fundamental ideas of what is truly possible.
This magnificent adventure combines a science of the future – the emerging field of quantum technology – with the complex realities of the medieval past.
Timeline Will Now Be Discussed With Mild SPOILERS (the ending is not discussed)**
Michael Crichton’s Timeline opens on the threshold of the twenty-first century. It is a world – our present, mind you – exploding in advances of technology.
A daring tech company has succeeded in creating a quantum computer. With the near-instantaneous computing commutation and revolutionary massive data banks, the company has managed the long-awaited sci-fi dream of “copying” an entire person.
Not only that, but they also managed to manipulate and enlarge quantum foam particles. Combing these two remarkable feats they are able to send a person through a wormhole in space between two quantum foam particles – much like a fax machine.
The quantum world is an interesting place, one that scientists still don’t fully understand today. It can behave very differently than the physical world we know. Crichton explores this new frontier and includes many interesting footnotes for curious readers to follow up with.
Crichton dared to imagine a possibility of quantum foam wormholes connecting to a plethora of universes where different time periods all exist simultaneously.
This remarkable adventure is not technically time travel, but rather the ability to travel to a nearly identical past.
ITC’s CEO Robert Doniger, inventor of this quantum technology, believes people of the twentieth century will grow bored of current entertainment and crave anything that isn’t controlled by corporations. He argues people will turn to the past for rare and desirable experiences of authenticity.
Therefore, the future is in the past. And he plans to sell these authentic trips to the past, like tycoon John Hammond’s Jurassic Park or Walt Disney’s Disneyland.
ITC has been steadily buying up property around the world and funding archeological digs to learn more about possible “time travel” locations.
We meet our university protagonists at a dig in France. When pressed about funding, ITC allows Professor Edward Johnson to explore his exact dig in fourteenth century France using their quantum technology.
When the professor doesn’t return, only a group of his graduate students are his best chance of survival. This group has been given the chance of a lifetime: not just to study the past, but to enter it. However, they may find themselves fighting for their own survival – six hundred years ago during the Hundred Years War.
Crichton remains a master of narrative drive and cleverness; there’s never a dull moment.
Excitement runs high during the rescue attempt and higher still as Crichton invests his story with terrific period detail: castles, sword-play, jousts, sudden death and bold knights-in-shining-armor.
There is also strong suspense as Crichton cuts between past and present, where the time-travel machine has broken: Will the heroes survive and make it back?
Best of all, the medieval setting is highly accurate and described well.
This alone makes the book a worthwhile read, especially for those who are unfamiliar or only somewhat familiar with the Middle Ages.
Crichton effectively addresses some common misconceptions about medieval life. He presents the reader with a vivid picture that is at times much more attractive, and at other times much more frightening and repellent, than that is generally presented to us in popular fiction and film.
Crichton truly managed to bring the Middle Ages to life.
Timeline was made into a feature-length, theatrical-release movie, directed by Richard Donner and starring Paul Walker, Frances O’Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly and David Thewlis.
But if you want to see it, you will have to look back into your past to do it.
In an Arizona desert, a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world, archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to the headquarters of a secretive multinational corporation that has developed an astounding technology. Now this group is about to get a chance not to study the past but to enter it. And with history opened up to the present, the dead awakened to the living, these men and women will soon find themselves fighting for their very survival — six hundred years ago.
Mass Market Paperback, 489 pages Published June 2000 by Arrow Books (first published November 16th 1999)
For Readers Who Struggled: The Catcher in the Rye Book Review of J.D. Salinger’s classic.
This review is aimed for readers who struggled to understand this novel.
I hope you can see my perspective and that maybe you will give this novel another try so that you can appreciate the genius and insight this book has to offer. You don’t have to love it, but I hope you will grow to respect it.
Many of us have read this classic during high school: WARNING! there will be sufficient SPOILERS.
J.D. Salinger’s classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. It has been frequently challenged in court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality.
This book rises above controversy and debate, and that is part of what makes it such an interesting read.
The Catcher in the Rye certainly isn’t for everyone, but I find it a compelling and exciting read.
It has a hearty dose of realism mixed with some humor that is contrasted with moments of depression and emotional pain.
Despite being written in 1951, many teenagers today are still able to relate to the various themes presented throughout the novel. Teenagers can often relate because of the complex themes of rebellion, identity, and independence.
This modern classic falls into a coming-of age-genre and a good one at that.
Personally, I find the main character absolutely intriguing. I find it fascinating to get inside the head of the strange, rebellious Holden Caulfield.
The book begins with Holden directly addressing you, the reader. He begins to retell the events over a three-day period from the previous December.
His story starts at Pencey Prep, a prestigious boarding school filled with, what Holden calls, “phonies.” Although Holden tries to “play it off cool,” the reader can tell, early on, that he his quite lazy and completely clueless about his direction in life.
Holden is on a destructive path carrying his guilt, pain and loss, as it leads him in no direction.
Throughout his escapade in New York, he seeks meaning, help, and guidance, yet avoids these needs with indulgences and distractions – just trying to feel something other than pain.
He seeks out his teacher’s console because he needs to talk to someone who isn’t a phonie – he wants someone that will truly listen and provide guidance. He is in pain and feels hopelessly lost – even if he doesn’t admit this to himself.
There is no scheduled outline designed by the writer. Nothing advancing the plot: no rising action, conflict, or resolution – in the traditional sense. This is a broken teenager’s story of the chaotic last couple of days before he was admitted into the hospital.
The story erupts when all of his repressed emotions finally burst to the surface and crash his whole world down. All his acts of rebellion only are masking the pain of his grief.
The entire book is essentially one long flashback.
He is retelling the events he experienced prior to being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. After reading the last page of this story, think back on what you have read with this new perspective you have just gained.
Imagine you are a patient in the hospital with Holden. This story is the conversation you two are having. He is telling you why he is here – what led up to this point of you sitting next to him.
And just as his personal story is getting more and more difficult to tell, he stops abruptly, shifts the blame to you “not wanting to bore you with his story” in order to defend himself from sharing any more of his personal sorrow.
To me, Salinger’s speech is so important. When you’re depressed and can’t get out of your own way, you can’t think; you get stuck on thoughts.
This is why Holden is constantly repeating and often contradicting himself. He can’t make sense of anything.
He is so guilt stricken from the death of his brother. It is always on his mind. He constantly comes back to it because he hasn’t gotten over it. It bothers him that the world has moved on – that his family has moved on.
He’s stuck in a loop of survivor’s guilt. His life stopped when his brother died and he isn’t willing to move on. Holden has been lost for some time.
What I think readers miss most about this story is that, although Holden is the protagonist of this story, he is not a character you should idolize. In fact, the opposite is true.
Holden’s character is meant to personify the “lost soul.”
We may all be able to identify with a piece of him and if you do you should recognize that you, like Holden, need help – hopefully before you lose your way completely and fall down the rabbit hole.
He personifies the struggle most teens face when they begin to enter the adult world. You need to be able to sort out the “phonies,” call the bullshit, start to tackle your own inner demons, seek help, and find your own way.
To each their own; we all have our own demons.
Maybe it’s my psychology background that makes me want to psychoanalyze Holden, so keep in mind this is my perspective – what I see in Holden. At the very least I hope you can try to see that point of view.
One of the greatest insights this novel has to offer is in the mind of Holden Caulfield – the mind of our mentally wounded.
The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.
J.D. Salinger’s classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time’s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950’s and 60’s it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read.
Paperback, First Back Bay Paperback Edition (US/CAN), 277 pages
Published January 30th 2001 by Back Bay Books (first published July 16th 1951)\
“The Golden Man” by Philip K. Dick explores mutants hunted in a long short story, or short novella, from 1954, long before Stan Lee’s X-Men emerged!
It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where atomic radiation has produced mutated human beings.
A government task force has been created to hunt down these mutants.
SPOILER WARNING for “The Golden Man” an 11,600-word science fiction short story written by Philip K. Dick and published in the April 1954 issue of If magazine.
Mutants are either neutered or killed, depending on the strength of their abilities, so that they cannot harm humanity.
But the one mutant still at large is the elusive Golden Man who is always a step ahead because of his ability to see the future.
PKD explored a future where the next step in evolution may very well leave humans behind.
He explored the idea of the next superior being as neither a benevolent leader-type, nor a malicious genocidal dictator-type, but rather a Magneto-like being that would set a course of natural selection that would replace humanity in favor of a new mutant race.
Evolution itself, after all, is a natural process with no malicious intent behind it. Human beings simply would not be able to compete.
The comparison between the X-Men nemesis, Magneto and his mindset, cannot be ignored here, though PKD preceded Magneto’s invention by close to a decade.
This practical perspective is rather interesting and refreshing.
Superheroes, essentially mutants, have dominated popular culture for quite some time. Heroes, like the Justice League of DC comics, have helped lead humanity where villains, like Magneto of X-Men, are more interested in leaving humanity behind.
“The Golden Man” alludes to a more plausible Darwinian approach that seems to encroach on Magneto’s thoughts and arguments, at times, but stands alone in its insightful approach to the mutants in the story.
This novella was the inspiration for the movie Next with Nicolas Cage.
Ironically, similar to that of iRobot, the studio borrowed just one small concept from the entire story in its adaptation.
Surprisingly, the only similar parallel these two works share is the elusiveness of both characters when avoiding arrest.
Hollywood certainly had a fun time showing off this skill with Cage during the casino chase.
Although Nicholas Cage has the similar ability to see into the future, he certainly does not have the Golden Man’s secondary traits and his philosophy that make him so extraordinary. If you are a fan of film adaptations (as I am) you may find this interesting.
Beneath the sands of the Egyptian desert lies treasure beyond imagining. And when a professor of archaeology finds clues to the location of a Pharaoh’s lost tomb in ancient hieroglyphs, he hatches a plan to find the burial site – and plunder it.
But can a five-man team of smugglers and thieves uncover what the centuries have hidden? And even if they find it, can they escape with it…and with their lives?
The following TFF book review of John Lange’s Easy Go is Spoiler-free*****.
Would they pull off the largest archeological heist in history? Can a five-man team of smugglers and thieves uncover what centuries have hidden?
And even if they find it, can they smuggle it…and escape with their lives?
Easy Go is an adventure novel about a small group of thieves who find information about the hiding place of the last tomb of the Pharaohs, secretly excavate the tomb, and make plans to escape with the treasure from Egypt.
The story of this heist, told with humor, is reminiscent of an Oceans Eleven scheme.
This read is among Crichton’s earlier works, and this novel is not a masterpiece but it is a fun, quick, worthwhile read.
Critics argue it suffers from a number of flaws both in terms of character development and in terms of the plot. However, keeping in mind this was written in a medical student’s free time, the story flows well and the discovery of the tombs is quite compelling.
Easy Go was Crichton’s third published novel while he was enrolled at Harvard Medical School in 1968 as John Lange.
The Andromeda Strain was released the previous year and published under his real name. Before abandoning the practice in 1972, while writing The Terminal Man, Michael Crichton actually published 10 of his first 11 titles under pseudonyms such as John Lange and Jeffery Hudson. While two of those titles were eventually republished under his own name, the rest were abandoned to the dusty shelves of used bookstores around the world, becoming collectibles for those who knew what to look for.
Ultimately, it’s not going to make you forget the likes of Jurassic Park or State of Fear, nevertheless Easy Go is an amusing little adventure that offers some compelling glimpses of the Crichton we’ve come to appreciate.
“Artemis Fowl is a great place to get lost into another world” Book Review Contains **SPOILERS.
Artemis Fowl by Eion Colfer is the first in a line of an action-packed, technology-meets-fantasy best-selling children series of books. The protagonist Artemis – a charming twelve-year-old millionaire criminal mastermind – takes on the race of fairies to steal their gold.
Although criminalistic, Artemis’ intentions are to support his family during a stressful time.
His father’s similar unlawful schemes have encouraged a kidnapping that has estranged Artemis’ mother to a downward spiral of mental illness and plummeted the family finances.
Driven by power and money, Artemis is a devious and often cruel antihero, but there’s definitely good in there . . . somewhere.
Here is the story synopsis, and the review continues below it.
Published April 1st 2003 by Disney-Hyperion (first published April 26th 2001)
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius, and above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories—they’re dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.
An all-star cast of characters include the massive Eurasian bodyguard, Butler, the dedicated fairy detective, Holly Short, the irate fairy captain, Commander Julius Root, the technological centaur wizard, Foaly, and a charming dwarf thief, Mulch.
Recently, Artemis Fowl was adapted to a movie and released on Disney Plus. If you didn’t enjoy the recent debut, I encourage you to read the novel.
As with most book-to-film adaptations, the book was so much richer.
Furthermore, I whole-heartedly encourage you to read the Artemis Fowl graphic novel, drawn by Andrew Donkin.
Not only a unique rarity amongst book-to-graphic novel adaptations, this particular media allows the reader to see the characters as Eion Colfer envisioned. This adaptation is a fantastic place to step into the Fowl universe.
As for the Fowl series, these nine novels all take on creative challenges and allow Colfer to fully fledge out his characters.
Our irresistible anti-hero begins to thaw that frozen heart and becomes quite the noble hero – one that bridges and protects two divided worlds.
Wit, charm, action, and plot-twists are common themes across volumes.
A hit among children and tweens, these novels often catch the interest and engage older adult fantasy fans – often in the form of parents (but don’t let that stop you).
All in all, Artemis Fowl is an engaging and enjoyable read.
Whether you are a fantasy fiction lover or simply dipping in for the first time, Eion Colfer’s Artemis Fowl – in any format – is a great place to get lost into another world.