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A book by Michael Crichton

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A disappointing weak effort!

  • Mar 20, 2010
What a shame! Compared with Crichton's past stellar work and exciting accomplishments like "Jurassic Park" and "The Andromeda Strain", "Timeline" is a derivative, pedestrian work riddled with inconsistencies and cardboard characters that falls completely flat!

ITC, a typical power driven, megalomaniacal firm built on cutting edge technology advances has developed the ability to travel in time. Crichton's clever and extremely well-imagined description of the hard science underlying the technology is the bright spot in an otherwise weak novel - complete destruction of the time traveler in our universe and a facsimile transmission of all the data necessary through a quantum foam wormhole to allow a re-construction of the time traveler in a parallel universe similar to but definitely different than our own. ITC's plan, an astonishingly venal and entirely unimpressive idea to use the past as a vast "realistic" tourist destination (as opposed to engineered, re-created theme parks) results in four historians being trapped in 14th century medieval France. (Haven't I read that somewhere before? I re-checked the cover to make sure I hadn't picked up my copy of Connie Willis's "Doomsday Book" in error)

At that point, the story devolves from a decent sci-fi based techno-thriller into a half-baked adventure in which the author would have us believe (to select only one outrageous example) that a modern day geek who dabbles in medieval weaponry would be able to withstand the onslaught of, not just one, but multiple knights in jousting contests and hand to hand swordplay. If a reader is willing to lay aside virtually all credibility issues, the adventure could be said to be diverting and passably exciting but, for me, it just seemed too far over the top.

Perhaps the largest disappointment for me was that the plot rested in large part on a glaring inconsistency - allowing notes and artifacts left behind by our erstwhile time "travelers", presumably in a parallel but DIFFERENT universe than our own, to somehow magically appear in OUR universe to be found by ITC's present day archeologists and technicians. Tut, tut, Mr Chrichton ... it's not nice to try to fool Mother Nature that way!

Recommended only for diehard Crichton fans who would like to ensure a complete collection.

Paul Weiss

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August 08, 2010
I remember really loving this book and didn't notice as many inconsistencies as you. However, I did read it in the eighth grade. Perhaps I would have noticed more issues if I'd read it as an adult. My ability to suspend belief for the sake of a story is not quite as profound as it once was.
August 08, 2010
I probably could have overlooked the credibility issues with the swordplay and so on if it hadn't been for the parallel worlds time travel issue I mentioned. Thanks for dropping by.
August 04, 2010
Well analyzed review. I must disagree though. I was thoroughly enjoyed this work by Chrichton and I am definitely not a diehard fan. The characters really drew me in and the story was a fantasy/sci-fi lover's dream. I agree that inconsistencies were present, but not enough to draw me away from the book or depreciate it literary value.
August 04, 2010
I can live with a little inconsistency but, in this case, the inconsistencies were about the whole philosophy of time travel. Since that was the entire raison d'etre for the book, it was too fundamental for me to ignore.
May 19, 2010
I must not have read the same book as you, this is the only Crichton book I read multiple times. :-) However, I did enjoy your review; I might have to read the book a third time to see if I missed something.
March 23, 2010
I started this book, but I never finished it. I couldn't get into the story at that point in time. I will need to revisit it in the near future.
More Timeline reviews
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
Timeline essentially uses time travel as a device to thrust modern humans into the medieval past to write an action adventure story in that setting. It begins, for all intents and purposes, when a group of graduate student archaeologists, working on a dig under the auspices of a secretive corporation, find a note from their professor asking for help. It just happens the note was written during the Middle Ages. Thus, they are whisked off in a corporate jet and thrust into the past to find the professor …
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
The best book I've ever read!
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
One of Crichton's best. Opens a fascinating door into the past, both technologically (the time travel aspect) and culturally (a glimpse of what it might really have been like, based upon lots of research). Well-conceived tale, tantalizingly possible (quantum "fax"? Wow...). Great story.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
one of my least favorites by Crichton
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
I found this book really interesting. I found deviation from the scientific (that Crichton focuses most of his books around) to the historic refreshing and intriguing. There is no lack of science, but it was a nice change of pace.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
An awesome book by on of my favorite authors...and a lot better than the movie that was made based on it.
review by . May 16, 2009
This book had a lot of potential and is indeed rich in history. What hurt this book a lot was that Crichton decided to emphasize and amount of time available for the characters to complete their mission and return. Without completing the book you could easily guess that it would go down to the last second (at least in the movie "Goldfinger" the clock wound down to 007). Quantum physics is the focus of the book and its many possibilities. These include parallel universes, time travel and subatomic …
review by . March 26, 2009
Professor Johnston is working in France as the chief archaeologist on a dig of a historical medieval town when the multi-millionaire Robert Doniger, owner of ITC, the company financing his project, suddenly calls him away to the US. A few days later, his son, Chris, and the students working on the dig learn from ITC that the Professor has mysteriously disappeared. Not long after, while working on the site, they find, inside a room that has been sealed for over 600 years, a disturbing manuscript …
About the reviewer
Paul Weiss ()
Ranked #15
   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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About the Author
Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, in 1942. His novels include The Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery, Congo, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Disclosure, The Lost World, and Airframe. He is also the creator of the television series ER.
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ISBN-10: 03454176263
ISBN-13: 978-0345417626
Author: Michael Crichton
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date Published: October 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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