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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 as 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.


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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 as 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.

30 review for Timeline

  1. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    In the world of pseudoscience, the subject of time travel is always entertaining , fascinating and downright shall we say, fun...Imagine going back to any year, in the distant, obscure past, (reachable now )...taking a peek, looking around the corner , at the mysteries, seeing actual situations and judging for yourself . What was real, not myths, legends or fabrications ( a polite word for lies), meeting important, famous people in history books, places that are long gone or in ruins now, yet st In the world of pseudoscience, the subject of time travel is always entertaining , fascinating and downright shall we say, fun...Imagine going back to any year, in the distant, obscure past, (reachable now )...taking a peek, looking around the corner , at the mysteries, seeing actual situations and judging for yourself . What was real, not myths, legends or fabrications ( a polite word for lies), meeting important, famous people in history books, places that are long gone or in ruins now, yet still captures our interest. Michael Crichton has written one of the best in this genre ...The characters journey is continuously moving forward, from one danger to another, Professor Johnston's little band of rather frightened but intrepid archaeologists, won't surrender without a fight, their quest for knowledge, (in fact a rescue mission) inevitably turns into a sick nightmare. This is not a dull dig , they're used to, trying to discover an ancient artifact or an old stone wall, but a new experience which may kill you...It's quite different seeing old bones walking now, and breathing ... Maybe some they originally found, themselves... the corporation ITC, that funded this and the mad billionaire genius that controls it , Robert Doniger, wants to make a good profit, (business is business) naturally, the rebuilt medieval sites will make nice tourist attractions , as the money pours in. The dreams of a rich young, very ambitious man getting richer...paradise... for the fortunate few. The expenses have been tremendous, still after all , they, the "volunteers" are a fish out of water nevertheless, no matter how clever these modern travelers appear. The camouflages and technologies enable them to blend in, these aliens try to survive the strange land, of the medieval era.. The cruel customs, bloodthirsty knights, their swords hacking to pieces anyone they like... and enjoying it, peasants oppressed , sieges, secret passages in castles, endless conflicts, cut- throat bandits hiding in the deep forest ready to slaughter, any who foolishly go there, the superstitious people fight back when possible... The time is 1357, the One Hundred Years War is devastating France , the English invaders will not leave and the Black Death has felled a third of the population in Europe...20 million that in a few hours stumbled into the emptiness . ..A trip that the adventurous will appreciate, even love, the closest anyone will get to the Dark Ages which scientists today have refuted. There was a lot more intellectual stirrings then, and the brilliance though a small minority , showed through, for the brighter future ...whenever that will occur....

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Another one-star book for the "so bad it pissed me off" category. I so wanted to like this book. Up until this book I think I read nearly everything Crichton wrote. Timeline, in my opinion, had a great premise. Swashbuckler disguised as Sci-Fi. The problem I had was that Crichton tried too hard to explain his premises, and ended up making a jumble that even he couldn't untangle. This book was supposed to have all the good stuff: time travel, knights, castles, fighting, suspense. But the characte Another one-star book for the "so bad it pissed me off" category. I so wanted to like this book. Up until this book I think I read nearly everything Crichton wrote. Timeline, in my opinion, had a great premise. Swashbuckler disguised as Sci-Fi. The problem I had was that Crichton tried too hard to explain his premises, and ended up making a jumble that even he couldn't untangle. This book was supposed to have all the good stuff: time travel, knights, castles, fighting, suspense. But the characters don't ever really make it off the page. The bad guys are so one-dimensional, they are hard to hate. Good book hate requires conflict, and the bad guys are just so unrelentingly bad. Same issue with the good guys, the "good" guys are so boring, they're hard to root for. In the end, I didn't really care if they made it back okay. Speaking of the ending, it all seemed like it was just tacked on because some editor said: "Okay, you have to wrap this up in the next 40 pages, or it won't make a good movie script!" They're all in this inextricable mess, but suddenly the tide turns completely in their favor for the "good guys" who repair the device at the last second, make it running, send the bad guys back to die horribly, and the two sympathetic couples live happily ever after with babies? Ha! ...which is another thing that pissed me off. It seemed like Crichton was writing this just because it had been too long since he wrote a book that would "make a great movie!" (Thought the movie kind of sucked too.) And sure enough, it got optioned. bah. Don't you remember the days of amazing novels by Crichton? 5/28/14 a P.S. Dear condescending morons who keep showing up on this review to tell me how I'm reading it wrong, or worse: mansplaining why I don't get that this book is in your manly opinion, a masterpiece par none: Fuck. Off. Also, I will delete your comments. I'm not doing this any more. Write your own damn review of this stupid, stupid book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Space

    This was the first Crichton novel I read, which is probably to his advantage. I knew it was fiction, so I was able to pick it up and cruise right through it. Had I started on The Andromeda Strain, or Airframe, I might have thought he was a non-fiction writer and not given him a proper chance. As it turns out, I was instantly hooked, and began to furiously and ferociously collect everything I could get my hands on by Michael Crichton. Now I've read most of his novels, and have met him in person. This was the first Crichton novel I read, which is probably to his advantage. I knew it was fiction, so I was able to pick it up and cruise right through it. Had I started on The Andromeda Strain, or Airframe, I might have thought he was a non-fiction writer and not given him a proper chance. As it turns out, I was instantly hooked, and began to furiously and ferociously collect everything I could get my hands on by Michael Crichton. Now I've read most of his novels, and have met him in person. (see photos) Big fan, doodz. Anyway, this is a time-travel story, which automatically bumps it up a point in the storyline rating for me. But it's not your average time-travel tale. It's very detail-oriented, and you learn quickly that some of the characters have an agenda deeper than just wanting to go back and visit the medieval times. The characters are rock solid and believable, and the story is a great rendition of a many-times-told favorite. Who doesn't want to go back in time to the 1500s and check out some castles? Some knights doing battle? I know I do. I know this was made into a movie a couple of years ago, but I haven't seen it. I've heard it didn't do anywhere close to as well as the book did, and did it no justice either. I'll probably rent it someday just because I'm sentimental and I like seeing my favorite characters come to life. I'd recommend this for all you time-travel junkies out there. It has some elements that are surprisingly powerful for being so overtly subtle. It's a very attractive read, and well worth your time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    Having enjoyed Jurassic Park, I wanted to read more Crichton. Timeline now being the second novel of he’s that I’ve read. What I found most fascinating were the complete flip between the two stories, as in Jurassic Park its about being the past being brought to the present. Whereas Timeline is very much a journey back in time and a perceived perceptions of that era being completely changed. As a group of history students are transported back to 14th-century France to rescue their professor. We’ve a Having enjoyed Jurassic Park, I wanted to read more Crichton. Timeline now being the second novel of he’s that I’ve read. What I found most fascinating were the complete flip between the two stories, as in Jurassic Park its about being the past being brought to the present. Whereas Timeline is very much a journey back in time and a perceived perceptions of that era being completely changed. As a group of history students are transported back to 14th-century France to rescue their professor. We’ve all got an idea of what the medieval times must have been like, but it’s not the same as experiencing it. The same parallels can be drawn with the sound of a dinosaur. I really like Crichton’s style of writing and found the characters to be much more interesting in this book. It’s a great engaging time travel story, that has plenty of twists.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John

    I loved this book... and then some arse made a really crap film and the book lost some of its shine... I couldn't rid my mind of the film set and actors. I still quite like the book. I loved this book... and then some arse made a really crap film and the book lost some of its shine... I couldn't rid my mind of the film set and actors. I still quite like the book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    The next stop in my time travel marathon (November being Science Fiction Month) was Timeline, Michael Crichton's 1999 thriller. Crichton was not what I think of as a prolific writer; he published sixteen novels in his lifetime under this own name, beginning in 1969 with The Andromeda Strain. Perhaps the movies produced from most of these titles make it seem like Crichton was everywhere. I'd like to think that maybe the author devoted the time between novels conducting backbreaking research. With The next stop in my time travel marathon (November being Science Fiction Month) was Timeline, Michael Crichton's 1999 thriller. Crichton was not what I think of as a prolific writer; he published sixteen novels in his lifetime under this own name, beginning in 1969 with The Andromeda Strain. Perhaps the movies produced from most of these titles make it seem like Crichton was everywhere. I'd like to think that maybe the author devoted the time between novels conducting backbreaking research. With Timeline, he certainly lays the groundwork all other time travel tales should build from. The story takes off wondrously in northern Arizona of the present day with a couple roaming the Navajo Indian reservation in their Mercedes. The wife is in search of authentic handcrafted rugs and as her husband drives further away from civilization, tension mounts. An old man appears on the road out of nowhere and falls to the ground as the Mercedes passes. The couple take the incoherent man to a hospital, where he dies of an apparent cardiac arrest. A Navajo police officer and a surgeon discover the old man is a missing materials physicist working for ITC Research in Black Rock, NM. The cop and the surgeon note strange things about the dead physicist. An MRI exam shows arteries and muscle issue that appear offset, perhaps a glitch in the imaging software. He was carrying a diagram for the Monastery of Sainte-Mere in France, as well as a plastic marker which ITC claims was an ID tag. What was he doing wandering in the desert? These questions concern the 38-year-old founder of International Technology Research, billionaire physicist Robert Doniger, who dispatches the company's legal counsel to southwestern France, where an ITC archeological dig is taking place on the Dordogne River. Doniger is anxious for the Dordogne group -- led by Yale history professor Edward Johnston -- to initiate reconstruction of the site, which in addition to the monastery, includes the fortresses of Castlegard and La Roque, burned to the ground after Sir Oliver de Vannes lost them to French forces in 1357, some say, when a traitor opened a secret passage. While Johnston, assistant history professor Andre Marek, physicist David Stern and grad students Chris Hughes and Kate Erickson have taken their time reassembling the ruins, they're puzzled by the precise nature of the architectural data coming from ITC. While Johnston returns to Black Rock to find out what's going on, his team make an alarming discovery: an eyeglass lens that's been in the dirt for over 600 years and a message in parchment that appears to be in the professor's handwriting. It reads HELP ME, 4/7/1357. Marek, Stern, Hughes and Erickson are whisked to Black Rock, where Doniger's second-in-command explains that while time travel is not possible, ITC has utilized quantum physics to pioneer a type of space travel, sending observers through a wormhole to another part of the multiverse, where 1357 France is happening right now. Doniger explains that while ITC has been sending ex-soldiers into the multiverse and retrieving them for two years, rules prohibit them from stepping into the world of the past. Professor Johnston apparently broke this rule and has disappeared. Marek, a physically fit specimen with training in Occitan language as well as swordplay, agrees to join the rescue, as do Erickson and reluctantly, Hughes. Stern has reservations about the safety of the quantum technology, as well Doniger's promise that with two trained soldiers for protection, the group should be able to locate the professor and return within two hours. Stern remains behind to observe. When the author of Westworld and Jurassic Park tells you that an exciting new technology that will change mankind is perfectly safe -- Doniger envisions global historical sites that can send observers into the past, and of course, engineers have worked out all the kinks -- you not only walk away, you run. Timeline did remind me of a certain dinosaur-run-amok thriller, to its credit, as well as its detriment. Timeline is impeccably researched. I know next-door-to-nothing about quantum physics, but Crichton has such immense game that from beginning to end, I was convinced that he knew what the hell he was talking about. Crichton devotes awesome attention to just how a tech company might send a human being across time and retrieve them. The team he assembles for this mission is expertly considered as well: historians, physicists and soldiers for hire, whose combat training turns out to be antithetical to exploring history. The sequence which leads to the rescue party being stranded in 1357 occurs at roughly the same moment the T-Rex attack occurs in Jurassic Park and is almost as memorable, with existential crisis, sudden violence and unbelievable shock. I also liked the way Crichton utilized history, with the Hundred Years War, England and France's bloody rivalry and even women's rights playing important functions in the story. The author examines how each character is unprepared for some aspect of the 14th century, whether the speed of swordplay or the pleasing aromas of the castles. From an anthropological standpoint -- what would a team of historians experience if they traveled to 1357 France -- Timeline has no equal. Technically, the novel is flawless. Dramatically, the development of characters leaves a lot to be desired. Marek, Hughes and Erickson are given only the barest traits (The Hot Dog, The Chicken, The Athlete). The Professor is, well, The Professor. Doniger is The Evil Billionaire. While I could accept traveling through the multiverse, one thing I found difficult to buy were the number of times the protagonists escape certain death. It seemed like Hughes was nearly killed every five pages. Erickson runs for her life every ten pages. The 14th century is an age that Crichton illustrates as being overrun by death, and yet, these two rejects from a Gap commercial somehow keep surviving. There is no logical reason for it; Hughes and Erickson leap from one pitfall to the next because the plot dictates it. The novel wraps up in a predictable and rather glib fashion that I didn't care much for. Then again, each of these criticisms could be leveled against Jurassic Park, with characters who force little outcome in the story and survive much longer than they had any reason to. Crichton is not breaking new ground here. If you're looking for strong characters and dialogue to match the technological coolness, you'll probably hate this. If you loved his past work, you'll probably love this. I'm giving it three and a half stars, rounded up to four stars. Timeline surpassed expectations in part due to how poorly received the 2003 film adaptation was. Gerard Butler, Frances O'Connor and Paul Walker starred as Marek, Erickson and Hughes and may have dialed in performances due to how gorgeous but wooden their characters were supposed to be. The pleasures of the novel are in the anthropological discoveries happening in the minds of the characters, none of which translate to film very well. The physical action -- sieges, swordfighting, foot chases -- was filmed with much more imagination in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This was a good one. When you step into a time machine, fax yourself through a "quantum foam wormhole," and step out in feudal France circa 1357, be very, very afraid. If you aren't strapped back in precisely 37 hours after your visit begins, you'll miss the quantum bus back to 1999 and be stranded in a civil war, caught between crafty abbots, mad lords, and peasant bandits all eager to cut your throat. You'll also have to dodge catapults that hurl sizzling pitch over castle battlements. On the This was a good one. When you step into a time machine, fax yourself through a "quantum foam wormhole," and step out in feudal France circa 1357, be very, very afraid. If you aren't strapped back in precisely 37 hours after your visit begins, you'll miss the quantum bus back to 1999 and be stranded in a civil war, caught between crafty abbots, mad lords, and peasant bandits all eager to cut your throat. You'll also have to dodge catapults that hurl sizzling pitch over castle battlements. On the social front, you should avoid provoking "the butcher of Crecy" or Sir Oliver may lop your head off with a swoosh of his broadsword or cage and immerse you in "Milady's Bath," a brackish dungeon pit into which live rats are tossed now and then for prisoners to eat. This is the plight of the heroes of Timeline, Michael Crichton's thriller. They're historians in 1999 employed by a tech billionaire-genius with more than a few of Bill Gates's most unlovable quirks. Like the entrepreneur in Crichton's Jurassic Park, Doniger plans a theme park featuring artifacts from a lost world revived via cutting-edge science. When the project's chief historian sends a distress call to 1999 from 1357, the boss man doesn't tell the younger historians the risks they'll face trying to save him. At first, the interplay between eras is clever, but Timeline swiftly becomes a swashbuckling old-fashioned adventure, with just a dash of science and time paradox in the mix. Most of the cool facts are about the Middle Ages, and Crichton marvelously brings the past to life without ever letting the pulse-pounding action slow down. At one point, a time-tripper tries to enter the Chapel of Green Death. Unfortunately, its custodian, a crazed giant with terrible teeth and a bad case of lice, soon has her head on a block. "She saw a shadow move across the grass as he raised his ax into the air." I dare you not to turn the page! Through the narrative can be glimpsed the glowing bones of the movie that may be made from Timeline and the cutting-edge computer game that should hit the market in 2000. Expect many clashing swords and chase scenes through secret castle passages. But the book stands alone, tall and scary as a knight in armor shining with blood. --Tim Appelo

  8. 4 out of 5

    * A Reader Obsessed *

    3.5 Stars Interesting in the details if you want to beef up your French history, let alone all the minute medieval trivia about knighthood, honor, political machinations, and various architectural tidbits that you might’ve been jonesing to know. Throw in mind boggling theories on quantum physics strangely reminiscent of The Avengers: Endgame and this just might titillate as well as tax your brain. Ha! There's danger, brutality, and harsh lessons around every corner as a group of archaeology studen 3.5 Stars Interesting in the details if you want to beef up your French history, let alone all the minute medieval trivia about knighthood, honor, political machinations, and various architectural tidbits that you might’ve been jonesing to know. Throw in mind boggling theories on quantum physics strangely reminiscent of The Avengers: Endgame and this just might titillate as well as tax your brain. Ha! There's danger, brutality, and harsh lessons around every corner as a group of archaeology students travel to the past to rescue their beloved professor, trying to navigate treachery on both ends of the space time continuum. So very different from the movie (where the movie edges out a significant advantageous win), but an intense adventure nonetheless!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dana Kenedy (Dana and the Books)

    This book. This is THE book for me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tahera

    Read the book now. Watched the movie much earlier. Although both are above average at best, I will be in the minority when I say I prefer the movie...it had a better storyline and characters were more fleshed out. Book Andre Marek or movie Andre Marek? Definitely movie Andre Marek...it's Gerard Butler guys! 😍😍 3.5* Read the book now. Watched the movie much earlier. Although both are above average at best, I will be in the minority when I say I prefer the movie...it had a better storyline and characters were more fleshed out. Book Andre Marek or movie Andre Marek? Definitely movie Andre Marek...it's Gerard Butler guys! 😍😍 3.5*

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A Mad Scientist has built up a corporation to exploit his discovery that people can be squirted into the past, and returned the same way, through wormholes in the quantum foam. Well, not quite. In the schema of this novel, actual time travel is impossible. It is also impossible to transfer physical items any larger than the scale of the quantum foam from one parallel universe to another. It is, however, possible to strip a macroscopic object -- e.g., a human being -- down to its basic informatio A Mad Scientist has built up a corporation to exploit his discovery that people can be squirted into the past, and returned the same way, through wormholes in the quantum foam. Well, not quite. In the schema of this novel, actual time travel is impossible. It is also impossible to transfer physical items any larger than the scale of the quantum foam from one parallel universe to another. It is, however, possible to strip a macroscopic object -- e.g., a human being -- down to its basic information and squirt this string of binary code through a wormhole into an exceedingly similar but different universe, where it will be automatically reassembled because, er, It Is A Fundamental Rule That This Is What Happens. (There are occasional trivial transcription errors, which can accumulate to become serious, so people make only a limited number of "trips".) Further, because some exceedingly similar parallel universes haven't progressed quite as far along the timeline as ours has, you can in effect travel into the past -- as into an area of the French Dordogne which Mad Scientist has been setting up to become -- you've guessed it! -- a sort of theme park. Well, maybe. During all of this laying out of the supposedly plausible scientific underpinning of the tale, I confess my disbelief plummeted quite a few times. First, if the past you travel to is in a different universe, how come someone stranded in that universe's medieval France is (as in the early stages of Timeline) able to leave a message that archaeologists can unearth in our universe's modern France? Second, if you destroy me entirely in order to produce a mountain of data that can be used to create an exact duplicate of me, complete with all my consciousness and memories, while that duplicate is to all intents and purposes me, this doesn't alter the fact that my self has died. (To see what I mean, imagine you could produce the duplicate me without destroying the original. Now stand the two of us side-by-side and put a bullet through the brain of one of us. The consciousness of that individual indubitably comes to an end, even though a perfect copy is preserved in the other individual.) Third, while I'm moderately okay about the moderns having earplugs that translate various medieval languages for them, I'm still confused as to how, when they speak, they can be understood by medieval French speakers merely by sticking the occasional "sooth" and "prithee" into their dialogue. Fourth, the whole bit about reassembly on the far side of the wormhole always happening Just Because That's The Way The Multiverse Works seems a complete copout. And so on. Whatever, our gang of gallant archaeologists is sent back to rescue their stranded colleague and of course immediately everything starts going wrong. The bulk of the novel is made up of them having extraordinarily tedious adventures that seem to have been plotted less for a novel, more for a multiple-choice adventure gamebook. The writing is at best pedestrian, and often enough lurches into the slapdash. One of the main baddies seems to be a dead ringer for Blackadder, albeit with a French accent. We get occasional throwaway lines that seem to presage the bonkers pseudoscience of Crichton's final novel, State of Fear, such as "Even the most established concepts -- like the idea that germs cause disease -- were not as thoroughly proven as people believed" (page 365). Meanwhile, back in the modern day/our own universe, the Mad Scientist is thinking that the easiest way of keeping the whole fiasco from the press might be just to abandon the archaeologists to their fate. Me, I was wondering why the hell he'd sent archaeologists on the rescue mission in the first place: bearing in mind that it doesn't really matter when you set off so long as your arrival point in the past is correct, why didn't he hire a bunch of survival experts and spend a year training them in medieval customs and linguistics, and then mount the rescue of the stranded boffin? And so on. It was only because I'm working on an essay about time-travel stories that I finished this dreary effort, and only because I got it from the library that it didn't get thrown at the wall a few times.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I’ve never been terribly impressed with Michael Crichton. He writes excellent action and adventure scenes, but his characters always seem flat and one-dimensional, never doing much more than dodging dinosaurs or white gorillas. Not surprisingly, what I feel is his best novel to date, Disclosure, lacks the heart-pounding action and delves more into conflicts between characters, which I found much more compelling. I had high hopes for Timeline, a weighty book that had drawn good reviews from the f I’ve never been terribly impressed with Michael Crichton. He writes excellent action and adventure scenes, but his characters always seem flat and one-dimensional, never doing much more than dodging dinosaurs or white gorillas. Not surprisingly, what I feel is his best novel to date, Disclosure, lacks the heart-pounding action and delves more into conflicts between characters, which I found much more compelling. I had high hopes for Timeline, a weighty book that had drawn good reviews from the few publications I take book reviews seriously. Unfortunately, it lacks the depth of character of Disclosure but still packs a good punch. International Technology Corporation, ITC, headed by the brilliant but abrasive Robert Doniger, has invented a new method of time travel based on quantum technology. Like in most of Crichton’s books, the company merely wishes to profit from this and will do anything, even break the law, to do so. Why is it that, in Crichton’s world, only greedy, unethical companies headed by greedy, unethical white men like Doniger come up with the best stuff? Anyway, ITC has a problem: Edward Johnston, Regius Professor of History at Yale, is trapped in 1357 France. Doniger needs to bring him back, but only to avoid a public relations nightmare. ITC invites four of Johnston’s graduate students to travel back in time to get him. That about sums up the plot. Crichton sprinkles it with his usual scientific jargon and high-tech toys, though to his credit he does make it understandable to the non-scientific reader. The book’s action doesn’t really get going until the four students show up in 1357 France, and it’s fairly relentless until the end, although I was beginning to wonder how many times the students can fall off a ledge or slide down a mountain into a river. Toward the end, the book actually grew somewhat tedious. It's a light, enjoyable read. Not much more than that.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    “The very concept of time travel makes no sense, since time doesn’t flow. The fact that we think time passes is just an accident of our nervous systems— of the way things look to us. In reality, time doesn’t pass; we pass. Time itself is invariant. It just is. Therefore, past and future aren’t separate locations, the way New York and Paris are separate locations.” There is a reason why Crichton was a blockbusting bestselling author, he had a knack for explaining things that do not make sense in s “The very concept of time travel makes no sense, since time doesn’t flow. The fact that we think time passes is just an accident of our nervous systems— of the way things look to us. In reality, time doesn’t pass; we pass. Time itself is invariant. It just is. Therefore, past and future aren’t separate locations, the way New York and Paris are separate locations.” There is a reason why Crichton was a blockbusting bestselling author, he had a knack for explaining things that do not make sense in such a way that they seem to make sense. I like his take on the mechanics of time traveling in this book, it is more logical and believable than most stories in this popular subgenre. This mechanics involves quantum science and the multiverse, traveling to parallel worlds set in earlier time periods than ours, through wormhole connections in quantum foam. I have never heard of quantum foam either, but Crichton anticipated that, and a pretty clear explanation is fused into the narrative. Yes, Crichton kinda rocks (or rocked, as in R.I.P.). Timeline is about three historians traveling to the year 1357 to rescue a professor who is stranded there on a previous trip. The mission, of course, turns out to be vastly more complicated than the quick in and out trip they anticipated. Jousting, sword fights, conflagration, and uses of guillotine ensue, not to mention the wearing of tights, baggy hoses, and doublets. While Timeline is jam-packed with incidents and adventures the plotline is fairly straightforward. Crichton wrote short chapters, often with a little surprising turn of event or cliffhangers at the end of a chapter. I imagine this is a little like writing a catchy hook in a pop song, in any case, the commercial appeal of such a technique is obvious. Stylistically it is not very literary or elegant but it does have mass appeal. He also wrote ridiculously fun action scenes and hair-raising escapades; he even made jousting interesting and exciting. Besides the very interesting quantum science expositions early on in the book, once the main characters are in the medieval era there are not many scenes of people standing around talking. Crichton probably deliberately wrote the book to be visual and filmable, and it was, of course, adapted into the 2003 movie, which may have been his intent all along (I have not seen it though). The only snag for me is the limited emphasis on time traveling. I normally prefer time traveling stories to cover multiple eras going backward and forward to and from the past, the present and future, with mind-bending paradoxes galore (something like The Man Who Folded Himself, the most fun time traveling book ever). I doubt this is what Crichton set out to do, he seems more interested in writing about the rollicking adventure modern characters in medieval time. This book is more akin to Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court than H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Characterization is rather perfunctory, none of the characters seem particularly fleshed out or nuanced. Having said that I don’t fault Crichton for this, he chose to focus on the plot instead of the drivers of the plot, Clarke and Asimov did much the same thing and their work do not really suffer from it. They wisely played to their own strengths. I believe Crichton did respect his readers’ intelligence hence all the quantum science expositions. However, Timeline was written to appeal to the masses, but not necessarily the “unwashed masses”, just about anyone can enjoy this sort of thing regardless of their bathing frequency. Quotes: “Quantum technology flatly contradicts our common sense ideas of how the world works. It posits a world where computers operate without being turned on and objects are found without looking for them. An unimaginably powerful computer can be built from a single molecule. Information moves instantly between two points, without wires or networks. Distant objects are examined without any contact. Computers do their calculations in other universes. And teleportation — “Beam me up, Scotty” — is ordinary and used in many different ways.” “In the ordinary world, we have beliefs about cause and effect. Causes occur first, effects second. But that order of events does not always occur in the quantum world. Effects can be simultaneous with causes, and effects can precede causes.” “At very small, subatomic dimensions, the structure of space-time is irregular. It’s not smooth, it’s sort of bubbly and foamy. And because it’s way down at the quantum level, it’s called quantum foam.” “Today, everybody expects to be entertained, and they expect to be entertained all the time. Business meetings must be snappy, with bullet lists and animated graphics, so executives aren’t bored. Malls and stores must be engaging, so they amuse as well as sell us. Politicians must have pleasing video personalities and tell us only what we want to hear. Schools must be careful not to bore young minds that expect the speed and complexity of television. Students must be amused — everyone must be amused, or they will switch: switch brands, switch channels, switch parties, switch loyalties. This is the intellectual reality of Western society at the end of the century.” “In other centuries, human beings wanted to be saved, or improved, or freed, or educated. But in our century, they want to be entertained. The great fear is not of disease or death, but of boredom. A sense of time on our hands, a sense of nothing to do. A sense that we are not amused.”

  14. 5 out of 5

    Deacon Tom F

    4 1/2 Stars. It was a really fun read. Using my imagination, I would call it Indiana Jones in the 1300s. Forces one to stretch your imagination for this book but it was modern people fighting knights. Lots of castles, all monasteries and battles — All far fetched, This is time travel fiction and therefore tends to be that way. I enjoyed it and it has received mixed reviews but for this guy — I thought it was a fun read if I did not try to post every detail.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Howard

    4.5 Stars for Timeline (audiobook) by Michael Crichton read by John Bedford Lloyd. This was a wonderful story. Lots of action, science and time travel. Crichton got to explore all kinds of fun ideas. I like to think he is still writing in an alternate universe. Maybe one where they brought dinosaurs back to life for real.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul O'Neill

    A time travelling, sword swinging, science laden, probability speaking, historically interesting, magnificent tale! Even though Crichton is a popular author, I think he's underrated. At least that's what I think in the two books I've read (the other being Jurassic Park). I must read more of his work. Anybody got any suggestions? The format of this book is perfect. The way each chapter ended with a cliff hanger reminded me of George R.R. Martin. It creates something that you just don't want to put A time travelling, sword swinging, science laden, probability speaking, historically interesting, magnificent tale! Even though Crichton is a popular author, I think he's underrated. At least that's what I think in the two books I've read (the other being Jurassic Park). I must read more of his work. Anybody got any suggestions? The format of this book is perfect. The way each chapter ended with a cliff hanger reminded me of George R.R. Martin. It creates something that you just don't want to put down. Absolute class! Any fans of suspense, time travel or just thrillers in general need to read this. Five well earned stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I read this ages ago and couldn’t remember any of it. Now that I read it again, I have to deduct a star. The plot is about as substantial as a bag of peanut puffs and, alas, also as addictive. Once you started you can’t stop gobbling it up.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Luís

    This novel was a real surprise, a delightful and confusing surprise. The back cover tells about a Hi-Tech company, a high technology company in the United States, and excavations undertaken by historians, including the professor and some United States members. These excavations carried out in the Dordogne valley around a 14th-century monastery. Michael Crichton, well documented in the Middle Ages, produced a novel whose fluid writing and the adventures of the protagonists I appreciated. It is a bo This novel was a real surprise, a delightful and confusing surprise. The back cover tells about a Hi-Tech company, a high technology company in the United States, and excavations undertaken by historians, including the professor and some United States members. These excavations carried out in the Dordogne valley around a 14th-century monastery. Michael Crichton, well documented in the Middle Ages, produced a novel whose fluid writing and the adventures of the protagonists I appreciated. It is a book to read for those who love the Middle Ages with a little bit of science fiction and quantum physics and, above all, a great story!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book was my introduction to Crichton and I fell in love! I fell in love because this is an author who does extensive research on the subjects he writes about. So he not only entertains, he teaches you something in the process. In Timeline, Crichton combines science(quantum technology) and history(medieval) in a heart-stopping adventure. A group of historians are given the opportunity to literally enter life in fourteenth-century feudal France. But this is not your typical time travel story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Since there are over 1400 reviews, no need for me to list the details of the story. They're at other posts. Here's my feeling of the reading experience: STRENGTHS OF THIS NOVEL: movement, pacing, good concept, events are well stringed along WEAKNESSES OF THIS NOVEL: characters lack depth, believability issues sometimes, not enough details to feel one is actually in the medieval ages, characters seem to get out of problems too easily (i.e. lots of other people die around them but the main people do Since there are over 1400 reviews, no need for me to list the details of the story. They're at other posts. Here's my feeling of the reading experience: STRENGTHS OF THIS NOVEL: movement, pacing, good concept, events are well stringed along WEAKNESSES OF THIS NOVEL: characters lack depth, believability issues sometimes, not enough details to feel one is actually in the medieval ages, characters seem to get out of problems too easily (i.e. lots of other people die around them but the main people do not). OVERALL GRADE: B

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hari Hara

    Wow what a surprise in a time travel fiction !!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rohit Enghakat

    This book is about time travel. Crichton is one of my favourite writers as he researches the subject of his work thoroughly before writing it. Here this is just pure fiction about time travel undertaken by a group of historians contracted by a greedy and rich entrepreneur to bring back a professor stuck up in the 1300s medieval France and England. The first 200 pages was slow and boring and I almost gave it up. Then the action started once they travelled back in time to the 1300s and it became a This book is about time travel. Crichton is one of my favourite writers as he researches the subject of his work thoroughly before writing it. Here this is just pure fiction about time travel undertaken by a group of historians contracted by a greedy and rich entrepreneur to bring back a professor stuck up in the 1300s medieval France and England. The first 200 pages was slow and boring and I almost gave it up. Then the action started once they travelled back in time to the 1300s and it became a page turner. I would rate this as 3 star due to the slow start and a flimsy plot although the action is macabre and thrilling.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rad Ryan

    A novel for all-time. The one who made me to love books. At my age when I read it, I was like WHAT THE HELL, WHAT's THE MEANING OF THAT WORD . I was 13 at that time, I always make a fool out of myself. My classmates were asking me how can I understand it or do I understand it, all kinds of questions who irritates me. 3 months=1 book! I mean how hurtful and so hateful with it! There are more books than to read! And my goal for my life is to read more than 100 books or even more! I HATE NOVELS *c A novel for all-time. The one who made me to love books. At my age when I read it, I was like WHAT THE HELL, WHAT's THE MEANING OF THAT WORD . I was 13 at that time, I always make a fool out of myself. My classmates were asking me how can I understand it or do I understand it, all kinds of questions who irritates me. 3 months=1 book! I mean how hurtful and so hateful with it! There are more books than to read! And my goal for my life is to read more than 100 books or even more! I HATE NOVELS *coughs* not anymore. I love Michael Crichton for this book! So far I've read 4 works of him and this one is the most that I like. With all the Time-Travel Theme and Quantum Physics thing, mixed with Middle Age, and the characters became history more than they know. All the actions going from every side of the fight. This novel takes a group of historians, and test their courage, faith, hope, and the will to live among a time they don't belong and shouldn't exist. Timeline takes you to a thrilling, one-of-a-kind adventure who will take your breath in a deadly fight between their life and their timeline. :)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

    3.5 STARS "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 3.5 STARS "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 in the past. . . .they are unprepared and bear many dangerous difficulties due to this." (From Amazon) Do not judge this book by the movie. A very swashbuckling adventure!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Time travel gets me almost everytime! This novel was exciting and unique, I could hardly put it down. Cool quantum technology that I barely understood aside, I felt like I was transported to the 100 Years War along with the team that sets out to find the Professor. And that's what makes a good novel into a great novel for me, and Timeline delivered. One of Crichton's best. And I got a crush on Marek so that helps in keeping it on my favorite book list. I think I'll read in again soon. Time travel gets me almost everytime! This novel was exciting and unique, I could hardly put it down. Cool quantum technology that I barely understood aside, I felt like I was transported to the 100 Years War along with the team that sets out to find the Professor. And that's what makes a good novel into a great novel for me, and Timeline delivered. One of Crichton's best. And I got a crush on Marek so that helps in keeping it on my favorite book list. I think I'll read in again soon.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    2.0 stars. My least favorite Michael Crichton novel. I just never became interested in any of the characters or the story line.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Another enjoyable Crichton adventure combining science, history, and fiction.

  28. 5 out of 5

    misha

    Total piece of crap book that I got from a book swap. That said, while I did a lot of skimming, this was a perfectly fine book to read while on mass transit... as long as I kept the cover down so that no one would know that I was reading crap. And now you know that I sometimes read crap.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Werner

    My reaction to this book was a lot more favorable than Stacey's --but I do have to agree with some of her criticisms. Because of his "hard" sci-fi orientation, Crichton insisted on trying to extrapolate an explanation for time-travel from existing science, his vehicle being quantum theory. Since this is too complex and counter-intuitive for most people to understand (and some of us suspect it of being a bunch of hooey anyway!), the "explanation" doesn't serve much purpose, and does wind up being My reaction to this book was a lot more favorable than Stacey's --but I do have to agree with some of her criticisms. Because of his "hard" sci-fi orientation, Crichton insisted on trying to extrapolate an explanation for time-travel from existing science, his vehicle being quantum theory. Since this is too complex and counter-intuitive for most people to understand (and some of us suspect it of being a bunch of hooey anyway!), the "explanation" doesn't serve much purpose, and does wind up being a "jumble." Time-travel is inherently the stuff of soft science fiction; the father of the subgenre, H. G. Wells, demonstrated that you don't need to "explain" it to get readers to accept it. Crichton should have taken a leaf out of his book. And the characters here are not the most sharply drawn in the genre (though some are more so than others, and there are a couple of conversations which are really excellent revelations of character, by the "show, don't tell" method). The ending does have a cinematic quality, though whether this is a flaw or not depends on your tastes. (Ironically, the last part of the movie version leaves out several of the best parts.) In the main, though, I personally thought the book succeeds well as an adventure story, where a group of friends have to find resources of loyalty, courage and ingenuity in themselves to survive, and to help each other survive. Like Jurassic Park, this novel also sounds a well-warranted cautionary note about the potential of self-serving Big Business to debase science as an instrument of profit for the few at the expense of others. The violence is not gratuitous (although there's a lot of it), the time travelers don't engage in illicit sex, and the language isn't noticeably bad. (Crichton's villains use the f-word a few times; but rather than encouraging it, this comes across as a reflection of the kinds of bad qualities the readers don't want to emulate!)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    It’s brain candy, fun to read but not very intellectually satisfying. Also, a character explaining away the grandfather paradox by just saying “nuh-uh” is ludicrously poor writing.

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