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Timeline: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2013
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In this thriller from the author of Jurassic Park, Sphere, and Congo, a group of young scientists travel back in time to medieval France on a daring rescue mission that becomes a struggle to stay alive.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Compulsive reading . . . brilliantly imagined.”—Los Angeles Times
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.
“Exciting . . . classic adventure . . . [a] swashbuckling novel . . . Crichton delivers.”—USA Today
“More screams per page . . . than Jurassic Park and The Lost World combined . . . The pace will leave many breathlessly grasping for oxygen masks.”—The San Diego Union-Tribune
“One of his best . . . [a] nonstop roller coaster of a novel.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
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–Los Angeles Times
“THE PRESENT AND THE LONG-AGO PAST COLLIDE. . . . [as] three young historians whisk themselves back to fourteenth-century feudal France to rescue a friend–and engulf themselves in all manner of mind-blowing intrigue.”
“[A] BIG ROLLICKING BOOK.”
–The Wall Street Journal
“EXCITING . . . CLASSIC ADVENTURE . . . [A] SWASHBUCKLING NOVEL . . . CRICHTON DELIVERS.”
About the Author
- Publisher : Ballantine Books (January 1, 2013)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 034553901X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0345539014
- Lexile measure : 620L
- Item Weight : 9.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.18 x 1.21 x 7.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #746,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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A JOURNEY TO FRANCE’S MEDIEVAL PAST
An irascible billionaire named Richard Doniger has built ITC, a high-tech company that has succeeded in constructing the world’s first working quantum computer. But he’s not using it to predict the weather more accurately or conduct genetic research at lightning speed. Instead, ITC has stumbled into what anyone else would call time travel. And the company is deploying it at the heart of new technology to investigate the history behind archaeological ruins around the world. Doniger is especially interested in two castles and a village in the Dordogne region of France. And it’s there that most of the action unfolds when he sends a team of history graduate students back to the year 1357 to rescue their professor.
A CINEMATIC TIME TRAVEL THRILLER
Michael Crichton made a name for himself—and a fortune—writing action-packed science fiction thrillers. You would be the rare American over 40 who hasn’t seen at least one of his novels on film. Jurassic Park is only the most famous of these. They work both on the page and on the big screen by building tension and suspense to an unbearable pitch by subjecting their protagonists to an unending series of life-threatening crises. Timeline is in no way different. Hollywood adapted it into a film in 2003 with an undistinguished cast. The production was almost universally panned.
Crichton obviously did a thorough job researching life in 14th-century France. His depiction of the endless violence that wracked Western Europe in the years following the Black Death jibes with everything else i’ve read about the period. As historical fiction, Timeline is well worth reading. Unfortunately, the novel suffers from the same flaws that undermined the film. The plot hangs on a fast-approaching deadline and a sequence of improbable action scenes that all too often end with a miraculous last-minute reprieve. The hard-to-believe technology involved works precisely as designed and with split-second timing. It’s all a prop for sword-fights and the siege of a medieval castle. If you like that sort of thing, you may enjoy reading Timeline. I found it tough going at times.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Crichton (1942-2008) sold more than 200 million copies of his 28 novels and five nonfiction books. He received an MD degree from Harvard Medical School in 1969 but turned immediately to writing. He never practiced medicine. His most successful novels were The Andromeda Strain (1969) and Jurassic Park (1990). Films based on the Jurassic Park novels were among more than a dozen produced, many of them box-office sensations. Crichton was six feet nine inches tall and towered over everyone ever photographed with him. He died of lymphoma in 2008.
y people. People that pursue authentic reenaction as weekend warriors. Then he allows the heroic reenactor to fulfill his dream. Meanwhile the evil technology nerd . . . well, just read it!
Although I was a fan of this book overall, there were still some ways that I thought it could have been improved. One way this could have been done would have been by developing the characters more. It felt like, throughout the book, more and more characters kept getting introduced that contained a possible personal connection for the reader. This was interesting, but it allowed little room for any of the characters to become complex or for the reader to deeply connect with them. I feel that this connection is an important part of a novel because it makes the story more emotional and less confusing for the reader. Also, I would have liked for Crichton to develop more of a story around the people back in the regular world, because the little contrast that was provided made it more entertaining to read. I also think that putting more emphasis on the differences between the medieval world and the current world would make the reader more able to connect the story to their life and keep reading more.
Top reviews from other countries
2. People don't like it.
3. It's not really anything like the book.
4. I like to be different.
In a bizarre plot twist, I watched the film long before I read this. I'm happy to admit that the film isn't ever going to top the charts, but there is something about it that makes me enjoy it whenever I watch it. Perhaps I love time travel, perhaps I enjoy a good story about the dark ages. Perhaps it's got Anna Friel in it. Whatever; I like it, so I thought I'd read the book too, as I also like Michael Crichton.
Anyway, reading this off the back of the film is harder than doing it the other way - there's usually stuff missed out in a film adaptation, but here we have pretty much a completely different story altogether. Anna Friel in the book is no longer Arnaut's sister, but is an English woman who "allegedly" murdered her first husband. Marek keeps his ears, and Chris isn't quite so Paul Walkerish. Billy Connolly still has a Scottish accent in the book though, although that may just have been in my reading.
So we've a different story altogether, with only a few bits and pieces dotted around that were used in the film. I like the book, probably as much as I like the film, but having experienced the two now, I can see why there is a divide. Overall, if you're a fan of time travel, history, Michael Crichton, and reading books, then I'd recommend this to you. If you're a fan of Anna Friel - go with the film instead.
Crichton tethers his plot to the 'Many Worlds' view of quantum reality. In the list of references at the end of the novel, he cites, in particular, ‘The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes and Its Implication’ (1998) by David Deutsch and its account of the ‘photon demonstration of multiverses’ on which Timeline relies.
Having characters teleported to a warring region of medieval France sets up the central adventure strand of the novel. However, the reader’s imagination is from time to time switched back from that world to the contemporary world where the techno-strand of the story advances.
Action is prioritized over characterization, perhaps with an eye to the eventual film adaptation. For my taste, the extreme rapidity with which the characters attuned themselves to the mores of the medieval world seemed more far-fetched even than the countless times they evaded fatal wounding from arrows or swords.
The convoluted medieval sequences do go on a bit too long and squeezed the dregs out this reader’s visualization abilities.
There is, I noticed, one particular element of techno-casting in the story that perhaps most readers will gloss over: the scientists have technology that monitors and displays in real-time the quantum-field probabilities of re-teleportation occurring. I feel that concept alone would have been the basis for a more credible quantum physics novel. For example, consider super-fast high-frequency trading of shares being rendered obsolete by backward time-travel of share-movement information. (Note: I recall watching years ago a documentary about real-world functional-MRI studies of simple decision-making situations. My conclusion was that either freewill is an illusion or there is a backward flow in time (a few milliseconds) of information in the brain.)
I pretended to myself that I understood all the Quantum stuff. In fact, I did and I didn't and I did and didn't at the same time.
I was genuinely engrossed in the medieval explanations of technology, economics, warring politics, etc.
But then Crighton starts to refer to everyone with a tin hat and shield as a knight and I realised every other detail was therefore suspect.
The real motivation for the "time travel" (you need to read it to understand the falseness of that expression) was a bit weak and was really a poor excuse for shoving modern people into a dangerous historical situation. Not nearly as good as, say, the USS Nimitz travelling back to just before the attack on Pearl Harbour. A bit more like Dr Who.
Our trusty band of modern archaeologists and historians run rings around the well trained and experienced warring parties and enter and exit castles at will even during sieges. I have no idea why carefully built up defences were so easily circumnavigated. I'm not sure I was able to follow how many times Chris was cut, shot, sliced, slid down a valley side, floundered in water or got captured. Jackie Chan should play him in the film.
Having said all that, it was a pager turner for me. I did enjoy it even as it went daft.
The big surprise near the end, simply wasn't.