Todd’s Review of Timeline by Michael Crichton

MichaelCrighton_TimelineAh, 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
Fredrick (1999)
Hardcover: 464 pages
ISBN: 06794557815

16 thoughts on “Todd’s Review of Timeline by Michael Crichton

  1. I agree completely with this review. I have also read Timeline and love the way Micheal Crichton tells the story, goes into detail without getting boring and portrays medieval life. It is one of the few books I could read a second time and still enjoy it almost as much as the first time.

    • I definitely agree, I wouldn’t have thought that anything regarding medieval times would have been interesting to me, but he makes it awesome and exciting all at once

  2. I agree on your views on Michael Crichton. He was fantastic and many of his books were absolutely brilliant. I disagree on the review of this particular book. The idea was really good and the science well crafted, but the writing I found poor.

    • Thanks for your comment, I think I need to read more of his work to get a good idea of where this one falls on the scale of his works. I like them all so far though!

      • Agreed, he’s awesome. I read all his books. This is the only one that was a bit off. And maybe one poor plot twist in Death Eaters (which is mostly good though, far better than the 13th warrior, although Banderas was good)

  3. Timeline is my favorite Crichton. Have you ever read Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book? It’s a similar premise – company discovers time travel, sends researchers back in time to study, and things go horribly wrong.

    • Hmm, never heard of it, but it definitely sounds interesting! I’ll have to give it a try, thanks for the recommendation. That’s always a good mix for an exciting plot

  4. I enjoyed this book, too. It was intriguing and had many layers.

    Just don’t bother with the movie. That was truly a disappointment to someone who has read the book (and my husband hadn’t read it and didn’t care much for it, either). We even paid to see it in the theater, which made it worse than if we’d gotten it from Netflix.

  5. Thank you for reviewing this! Without doubt, TL is my all-time personal Crichton favorite…in book form. LOVE the accuracy of the background history (ex: the oft overlooked fact that English in the Middle Ages is NOT the same English of today, people of that era were not unkempt brutes, nor were castles just gray stone. )

    I marvel at how TL flips our modern assumptions that we’re somehow more “progressed than our ancestors in all ways ” on its head. So you think you wanna go back in time huh?? This book realistically shows you just what a challenge that would REALLY be! 😛

    I only wish they had made a better than completely unbearable film adaption of this book. NOTHING that made the book so fantastic is even in the movie. What a letdown! 😦 But this book will always be great in my eyes in spite of the film. BTW, have you looked into Crichton’s last book, Pirate Latitudes yet?

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