Timeline by Michael Crichton ReviewKnopf, November 1999.
Hardcover, 444 pages.
As he has done in many of his prior novels, Crichton has again used new technology to create a powerful story. This time he uses quantum technology and about it he writes, "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 is ordinary and used in many different ways." This quote is from Crichton's introduction; scientists have already learned this much about the strange quantum world, but they know little about how to manipulate it. Crichton greatly expands upon these strange features of the quantum worlds to help make the concept of time travel believable. In his latest novel, a group of historians and grad students are working on the re-creation of a medieval castle and town in France, commissioned by ITC, a company run by billionaire Robert Doniger, a brilliant, but somewhat deranged physicist. The research group assumes it is a typical research grant until they are called in on a special mission -- to return to the actual time they are studying to help find their friend and colleague, Professor Johnston, who is lost in that world. Their travels are beset by violent knights, warlords and other dangers. The world of medieval France is not a peaceful one. It has frequent battles, thievery, sword fights, rape, disease and random acts of violence. The group must rely on what know about this world through their observations of it centuries in the future in order to survive the ordeal and rescue the professor.
Michael Crichton, who has penned some of the best-known titles of the 90's including Jurassic Park, Congo, Disclosure, Airframe and Rising Sun, has written another appealing action-thriller that evokes the chilling consequences of a possible future technology. Crichton also does an amazing job of recreating the feudal lifestyle of 14th century France as a time of great violence. His recreation of the weapons, armor, fights, people and lifestyle of this time period is fascinating. Timeline is a very visual and fast-moving novel that is sure to please Crichton fans.
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