Timeline by Michael Crichton


Can man travel through time? As cool as that sounds, I doubt it could be possible. I doubt it from a philosophical point of view: if I could travel in time, why couldn’t I change history? Crichton argues that no significant changes can be introduced, but his explanation falls a bit flat. Science teaches us that the introduction of new elements will always change the environment (ergo, by adding a new person in the past, we change history). So, could you go back and evangelize someone who has already died? So, no, I don’t think time travel could work even though it would be really cool.

In this book, Crichton bases his time travel on concept of the multiverse. This theory is based on quantum physics and Crichton does a good job of explaining it. (It’s a little disconcerting to have journalists treat this theory as tested fact….) Still, instead of actually traveling back in time, they travel via a worm hole back into an alternate universe at an earlier point in time via quantum mechanics. One of the biggest flaws with the logic is here: how can I modify something in a parallel universe and have it affect my current universe? Anyway, that’s nit picking. 🙂

If Crichton does one thing well, it’s that he manages to explain science in an understandable manner. Whether it’s a discussion of compression algorithms or quantum mechanics, he does the science justice.

Now, for the negatives: profanity, some descriptive Middle Ages violence, and an honest portrayal of the sins of the past. Not that he goes graphic in these sins, but they are stated and treated as common and unremarkable for that time. These things tend to be glossed over in modern histories, but Crichton doesn’t do that. He makes every attempt to ensure reality in this book.

In fact, this leads us to the benefit of the book: his historical accuracy. This book could be a treatise for the Middle Ages. Repeatedly, the characters lecture each other and passing people about an erroneous term: Dark Ages. In fact, the characters repeatedly tell us that western civilization owes the Middle Ages for modern financial, political, and industrial systems. All three areas were founded in the Middle Ages. In many ways, the time travel and the adventures of the time traveling team are merely artifices used to bring the past to life.

Any book that can cause my wife and I to stop and carry on scientific, political, sociological, or historical discussions is worth reading.

Oh wait, you wanted an idea of the plot? Novel idea for a book review…. This archaeologist is stuck in the past. His assistants/students go back to save him. Now go read the book and revel in the discussion and descriptions of an early period of life.


4 thoughts on “Timeline by Michael Crichton

  1. There is no way to travel back in time. This is truely a product of fiction, Which does make for some interesting stories. Its not possible in reality.

    We are a group that is challenging the current paradigm in physics which is Quantum Mechanics and String Theory. There is a new Theory of Everything Breakthrough. It exposes the flaws in both Quantum Theory and String Theory. Please Help us set the physics community back on the right course and prove that Einstein was right! Visit our site The Theory of Super Relativity: Super Relativity

  2. First, sorry about the delayed response. I don’t always do a really good job of checking the spam folder (which is where your comment ended up). And then our host had some technical difficulties.

    On the plus side, the site seems more responsive, though the host didn’t know why that would be.

    As to your comment, I have read that the scientific community is migrating away from string theory. They still hold to quantum mechanics, but are redeveloping the theory of everything.

    I’ll have to check out your site.

  3. wow, its a book? The movie is cool for many reasons that are completely unrelated to history or science, including that the few deaths are not treated lgihtly for once. But alternate realities kind of ruins teh whole idea of influencing the past, which is what most time travel stories use as their dramatic tool.

    Also, I’m with Matt: time travel is fun for reasons unrelated to the logic or reality.

  4. He wasn’t clear on how the alternate reality affected the present reality, unless in an infinite world of realities, someone came over and made the exact same changes (or close enough to be statistically the same) in the present reality.

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