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)
The Andromeda Evolution: Crichton’s Andromeda Strain sequel, terrifying sequel, has arrived as Daniel H. Wilson finished the late author’s manuscript with the support of the Michael Crichton’s family.
And this begs the question: just how many more Michael Crichton unfinished manuscripts are waiting to be finished in future collaborations?
Wilson, a robotics engineer, is best known for his use of literary wit and technology and is most famous for his ridiculous thriller “Robopcalypse,” so he was an apt choice for collaborating on the late author Chrighton’s sequel to his pandemic-driven novel.
The following review will contain **SPOILERS** for both The Andromeda Strain and The Andromeda Evolution.
The Andromeda Strain, as millions of fans know, describes the panicked efforts to stop the spread of an alien microparticle that first instantly coagulates human blood or induces the harrowing suicide of dozens to only then mutate to dissolve plastics in the upper atmosphere.
Here is the story synopsis, and the review continues below it.
In 1967, an extraterrestrial microbe came crashing down to Earth and nearly ended the human race. Accidental exposure to the particle—designated The Andromeda Strain—killed every resident of the town of Piedmont, Arizona, save for an elderly man and an infant boy. Over the next five days, a team of top scientists assigned to Project Wildfire worked valiantly to save the world from an epidemic of unimaginable proportions. In the moments before a catastrophic nuclear detonation, they succeeded.
In the ensuing decades, research on the microparticle continued. And the world thought it was safe…
Deep inside Fairchild Air Force Base, Project Eternal Vigilance has continued to watch and wait for the Andromeda Strain to reappear. On the verge of being shut down, the project has registered no activity—until now. A Brazilian terrain-mapping drone has detected a bizarre anomaly of otherworldly matter in the middle of the jungle, and, worse yet, the tell-tale chemical signature of the deadly microparticle.
Project Wildfire is activated, and a diverse team of experts hailing from all over the world is dispatched to investigate the potentially apocalyptic threat. If the Wildfire team can’t reach the quarantine zone, enter the anomaly, and figure out how to stop it, this new Andromeda Evolution will annihilate all life as we know it.
Fifty years later, a mutated strain has dropped in Earth’s atmosphere while a special team of observers maintain Project Eternal Vigilance.
When The Andromeda Evolution opens, a drone spots a metallic-looking shape growing up out of the Amazon jungle, “the whole of it gleaming like a beetle’s waxy shell in the rising midday sun.”
Situated along the equator, this giant structure is located far from any development, deep in an area inhabited only by tribes who have never made contact with modern civilization.
Mass spectrometry data taken by military satellites indicates that the quickly swelling mutation is “an almost exact match to the Andromeda strain.”
A nuclear strike is debated but considered too problematic to be enacted as a “solution.”
A nuclear explosion would feed the anomaly that lives off energy…provoking the declaration:
“We are facing an unknown enemy who is staging an attack over the gulf of a hundred-thousand years and across our solar system and likely the cosmos.
“This is war.”
Humanity’s hope falls on Project Wildfire’s shoulders.
Consisting of a few scientists, the elite Wildfire team tries to keep the planet from being infected while persisting through the perilous jungle landscape that they find they are dangerously ill-equipped to face.
The jungle proves to be an ominous setting with death and misery lurking around every suspenseful corner. Wilson’s background in robotics is illustrated throughout the novel as technological gizmos play a crucial role in the plot.
Crichton would be proud of the culminated novel. His typical style of literary pacing is amplified in this suspenseful rollercoaster – an exponential increase of suspense carries through until the novel’s conclusion.
Near future technology and innovation are present and most appreciating to read.
The Andromeda Evolution is a must-read sequel for The Andromeda Strain fans and the science fiction community.
Book Review: Micro By Michael Crichton & Richard Preston WOWs, as young upcoming grad students find themselves heading to Hawaii in pursuit of cutting-edge careers in microbiology a whole new world is opened up to them on the wake of a murder investigation.
The Crichton manuscript and notes for Micro were posthumously delivered to Preston who continued the stunning, thrilling, science-based adventure story Crichton is so well known for.
Preston deserves exceptional credit for delivering the novel with Crichton’s pacing and tone – a work that he would truly be proud of.
Here is the story synopsis, and the review continues below it.
In a locked Honolulu office building, three men are found dead with no sign of struggle except for the ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies. The only clue left behind is a tiny bladed robot, nearly invisible to the human eye.
In the lush forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Trillions of microorganisms, tens of thousands of bacteria species, are being discovered; they are feeding a search for priceless drugs and applications on a scale beyond anything previously imagined.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, seven graduate students at the forefront of their fields are recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up. Nanigen MicroTechnologies dispatches the group to a mysterious lab in Hawaii, where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier.
But once in the Oahu rain forest, the scientists are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Armed only with their knowledge of the natural world, they find themselves prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power. To survive, they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself.
This is a *SPOILER-FUL Review WARNING*
Micro starts with a murder mystery and captivates the reader with gripping action scenes that only get more compelling until the novel ends.
As a Hawaiian tech company’s malicious owner – a crook and a killer – uses his new technology to shrink a group of grad students down to half an inch, they find themselves stranded in the rainforest, in an unknown environment, running from giant insects and other gruesome creatures.
Michael Crichton doing research for Micro in Hawaii | Photo credit: Sherri Crichton
Charles Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest is law and it takes all of their intellect to survive.
Crichton and Preston take us to a whole new world – delightful imagery, chilling predators, and a new ecosystem.
They show their love for the natural world, but remind the readers of its explicit cruelty. The authors adopt a shocking realism. Characters are picked off right and left, sometimes without warning, and in the cruelest of ways.
An argument can be made for one dimensional characters; but heroic rescues always make up for character flaws.
A page of Michael Crichton’s handwritten Micro notes
Crichton died in 2008 at the age of 66. He was writing thrillers in medical school under the pen name John Lange.
His novels often blend medical and technological elements with adventure and violence. Upon his death, he left this unfinished manuscript, including detailed plot outlines and notes, with Richard Preston, himself a respected author of science-related novels such as The Hot Zone.
All in all, Micro ensures all readers will reflect upon the beauty and horror of the natural world. Especially if/when a villain has the technology to create micro-drones that could kill any leader on Earth.
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