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 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. . . . From the Trade Paperback edition.
"And the Oscar for Best Special Effects goes to: Timeline!" Figure maybe three years before those words are spoken, for Crichton's new novel despite media reports about trouble in selling film rights, which finally went to Paramount is as cinematic as they come, a shiny science-fantasy adventure powered by a superior high concept: a group of young scientists travel back from our time to medieval southern France to rescue their mentor, who's trapped there. The novel, in fact, may improve as a movie; its complex action, as the scientists are swept into the intrigue of the Hundred Years War, can be confusing on the page (though a supplied map, one of several graphics, helps), and most of its characters wear hats (or armor) of pure white or black. Crichton remains a master of narrative drive and cleverness. From the startling opening, where an old man with garbled speech and body parts materializes in the Arizona desert, through the revelation that a venal industrialist has developed a risky method of time-travel (based on movement between parallel universes; as in Crichton's other work, good, hard science abounds), there's not a dull moment. When elderly Yale history prof Edward Johnston travels back to his beloved 15th century and gets stuck, and his assistants follow to the rescue, excitement runs high, and higher still as Crichton invests his story with terrific period detail and as castles, sword-play, jousts, sudden death and enough bold knights-in-armor and seductive ladies-in-waiting to fill any toystore's action-figure shelves appear. There's strong suspense, too, as Crichton cuts between past and present, where the time-travel machinery has broken: Will the heroes survive and make it back The novel has a calculated feel but, even so, it engages as no Crichton tale has done since Jurassic Park, as it brings the past back to vigorous, entertaining life. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. 1,500,000 first printing; Literary Guild nain selection; simultaneous large-print edition and audiobook. (Nov. 16) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . One of the Better Books
Posted December 31, 2009 by Matt , Madison, WIA much better story than "Airframe", with an actually ending to this story and something that keeps you interested throughout.
2 . Thought Provoking
Posted January 01, 2007 by Braulio Ochoa , Chandler, AZMichael Crichtons use of technology and real world possibilites creates a scenario thats painfully real. Although the bombast and arrogant nature of the protaganist seems far fetched for a leader of a multibillion dollar company the other characters do their best. The jumpy writing makes sure you pay attention or you'll get lost. Overall a great story.
November 03, 2003
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Excerpt from Timeline by Michael Crichton
"Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory does not understand it."
NEILS BOHR, 1927
"Nobody understands quantum theory."
RICHARD FEYNMAN, 1967
* * *
He should never have taken that shortcut.
Dan Baker winced as his new Mercedes S500 sedan bounced down the dirt road, heading deeper into the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona. Around them, the landscape was increasingly desolate: distant red mesas to the east, flat desert stretching away in the west. They had passed a village half an hour earlier -- dusty houses, a church and a small school, huddled against a cliff -- but since then, they'd seen nothing at all, not even a fence. Just empty red desert. They hadn't seen another car for an hour. Now it was noon, the sun glaring down at them. Baker, a forty-year-old building contractor in Phoenix, was beginning to feel uneasy. Especially since his wife, an architect, was one of those artistic people who wasn't practical about things like gas and water. His tank was half-empty. And the car was starting to run hot.
"Liz," he said, "are you sure this is the way?"
Sitting beside him, his wife was bent over the map, tracing the route with her finger. "It has to be," she said. "The guidebook said four miles beyond the Coraz'n Canyon turnoff."
"But we passed Corazn Canyon twenty minutes ago. We must have missed it."
"How could we miss a trading post?" she said.
"I don't know." Baker stared at the road ahead. "But there's nothing out here. Are you sure you want to do this? I mean, we can get great Navajo rugs in Sedona. They sell all kinds of rugs in Sedona."