Book: Timescape

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Author: Gregory Benford
Publisher: Spectra

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.


Suspense builds in this novel about scientists, physics, time travel, and saving the Earth. It’s 1998, and a physicist in Cambridge, England, attempts to send a message backward in time. Earth is falling apart, and a government faction supports the project in hopes of diverting or avoiding the environmental disasters beginning to tear at the edges of civilization. It’s 1962, and a physicist in California struggles with his new life on the West Coast, office politics, and the irregularities of data that plague his experiments. The story’s perspective toggles between time lines, physicists, and their communities. Timescape presents the subculture and world of scientists in microcosm: the lab, the loves, the grappling for grants, the pressures from university and government, the rewards and trials of relationships with spouses, the pressures of the scientific race, and the thrill of discovery.

Timescape merits the tag “hard science fiction”; it tells the story of scientists, and readers can’t help but learn something about tachyons and physics while reading it. Yet much of the story is about humanity: the men John Renfrew and Gordon Bernstein and their relationships—between husband and wife, lover and lover, English working class and upper class, professor and student, and academician and colleagues.

Winner of the Nebula Award in 1980 and the John W. Clark Award in 1981, Timescape offers readers a great yarn, in terms of both humanity and science.

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