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.
The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)
“Book Review: Timeline By Michael Crichton 5/5 Stars” was written by Peter Maisano.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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)