Ah, Michael Crichton. What a genius. I’m sorry, I just get a bit caught up when talking about Mr. Crichton, whom I believe was way ahead of his time in his depth and breadth of knowledge of both science and technology. Reading his works are just as relevant today as they were a decade or more ago when they came out, as the predictions he made about the advancements of science are not only just as valid as they were then, but they’re even coming true in some instances! Anyway, after reading Jurassic Park (and I was long overdue for that) I was hooked. After a trip to the Strand I picked up a copy of Timeline after hearing multiple good things about it. I was excited to see what Crichton could do with a more science-based story line and I can happily report I was not disappointed one bit.
Timeline begins with a couple on vacation driving in the New Mexico desert who come upon a man named Joe Traub that is seriously dehydrated and babbling incoherently. After finding help, he is taken to a local hospital, where he soon dies of cardiac arrest, but it’s not due to the dehydration. Chillingly, an MRI appears to show that the man’s blood vessels do not line up correctly, which led to his bleeding to death. They discover that Traub is a physicist for a company called ITC, although its headquarters are miles from where Traub was actually found. We then learn that ITC is attempting to cover up a large and expensive project that Trub had been working on. Meanwhile, we are introduced to a team of researchers in France led by Professor Edward Johnston that are studying the ruins of the medieval towns of Castelgard and La Roque. When Johnston realizes that ITC, who funds a major portion of their work, is holding out on him and has way more detailed information about the sites that he is researching than he has himself, he decides to fly to ITC to voice his concerns. While he’s gone, however, his researchers discover a chilling find: a note, written in the medieval time period and buried in the ruins, that is not only written in modern English, but is from Johnston himself asking for help! What happens next is a story of quantum technology, time travel, the year 1357, and much, much more.
I think the best part about Timeline is the detail. Don’t get me wrong, the plot is quick and the characters really come into themselves over the course of the novel, but I think Crichton’s attention to detail really made this novel shine. The way in which Crichton explains the quantum technology behind time travel is amazing, and the detail he goes into when describing the actual construction of the machine and how the characters are transported back into time is fantastic. I could almost feel myself in the chamber watching the characters get smaller and smaller as their bodies are compartmentalized and sent back in time. Of course, just like his other works, the human aspect of his stories are spot on as well, as they had me rooting for Chris and Kate’s romance to finally happen and laugh at how seriously Andre took his preparations for traveling back to medieval time. In all, Crichton has created another awesome addition to his already solid portfolio of science fiction work, and it is serving as more impetus for me to go out and read all that he has to offer. I’m leaning towards Airframe next, although preferably not when I’m on a plane! So, if I haven’t convinced you already, go out and read Timeline, or any Michael Crichton for that matter. You can thank me later. Happy reading!
5 out of 5 Stars
Timeline by Michael Crichton
Hardcover: 464 pages