Timeline: Eine Reise in die Mitte der Zeit (Timeline)

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Overview

Michael Crichton's new novel opens on the threshold of the twenty-first century. It is a world of exploding advances on the frontiers of technology. Information moves instantly between two points, without wires or networks. Computers are built from single molecules. Any moment of the past can be actualized -- and a group of historians can enter, literally, life in fourteenth-century feudal France.

Imagine the risks of such a journey.

Not since ...

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1999 Hard cover First edition. Illustrated. New in new dust jacket. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 464 p. Contains: Illustrations. ... Audience: General/trade. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Read more Show Less

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1999 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 464 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. FIRST TRADE ... EDITION 1999 THE BOOK AND THE DUST COVER ARE IN NEW U NUSED CONDITION Read more Show Less

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1999 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 464 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. FIRST TRADE ... EDITION 1999 THE BOOK AND THE DUST COVER ARE IN BRAND NEW UNUSED CONDITION Read more Show Less

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1999 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 464 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. FIRST TRADE ... EDITION 1999 THE BOOK AND DUST COVER ARE IN BRAND NEW UNUSED CONDITION Read more Show Less

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1999 Hard cover Stated First Trade Edition New in new dust jacket. Signed by author. Signed Publisher's bookplate affixed to front page. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With ... dust jacket. 464 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: Young adult. The bedrock of Timeline is some of the obscure implications of Quantum Theory. And QT is a cosmic joke that works. However, QT with its duality of wave-particle nature and its uncertainty principle, weird interactions and probabilistic effects often doesn't make sense even to the physicists who created it. It can best be described as mass of very elegant mathematics that works for mysterious reasons. Certain quantum effects are so puzzling that they give rise to a theory of multiple universes. Michael Crichton M.D., (1942-2008) Read more Show Less

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Timeline: Eine Reise in die Mitte der Zeit - Roman

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Overview

Michael Crichton's new novel opens on the threshold of the twenty-first century. It is a world of exploding advances on the frontiers of technology. Information moves instantly between two points, without wires or networks. Computers are built from single molecules. Any moment of the past can be actualized -- and a group of historians can enter, literally, life in fourteenth-century feudal France.

Imagine the risks of such a journey.

Not since Jurassic Park has Michael Crichton given us such a magnificent adventure. Here, he combines a science of the future -- the emerging field of quantum technology -- with the complex realities of the medieval past. In a heart-stopping narrative, Timeline carries us into a realm of unexpected suspense and danger, overturning our most basic ideas of what is possible.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
With the exception of The Lost World, his disappointing sequel to Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton has never stepped into the same river twice. In the 30 years since his first bestseller, The Andromeda Strain, was published, he has written with authority and passion on subjects as varied as airline safety, Norse mythology, alien contact, Victorian train robbers, Japanese business practices, and sexual politics in corporate America. It should come as no surprise, then, that his latest novel, Timeline, is a radical departure from all that has gone before it, and is "typical" only in its characteristic commingling of high-powered narrative and technical expertise.

The technological starting point for Timeline is the emerging science of quantum mechanics, a field of study so abstruse, so "nonintuitive" that, in Richard Feynman’s words, "nobody understands [it]." Crichton, of course, has never been one to allow complex technologies intimidate him, and quantum theory provides him with the speculative basis for Timeline's central conceit: That we live, not in a finite universe, but in a "multiverse" composed of an infinite, constantly expanding series of parallel universes in which all past moments continue to exist. Crichton then posits an imaginary technology that uses quantum computers that are literally capable of "faxing" human beings to selected target areas of the multiverse. The result is a kind of de facto time travel, a phenomenon around which Crichton constructs an exciting -- and ingenious -- story.

In the opening pages, Crichton introduces us to two of Timeline’s primary players. One is Edward Johnston, historian, Yale professor, and leader of a team that is exploring a medieval ruin known as Castelgard, a French fortress town that was burned to the ground during the Hundred Years War between England and France. The other player is Robert Doniger, petulant genius and CEO of a high-tech research firm called ITC. ITC is the silent, unacknowledged leader in the field of quantum mechanics. For hidden reasons of its own, it also provides the funding for a number of historical research efforts, one of which is the Castelgard project.

Trouble begins when Johnston becomes privy to Robert Doniger's most closely held secret: the quantum transmitter. At Doniger's invitation, Johnson makes use of the transmitter, which allows him to travel to 14th-century France, and to experience the world of medieval Europe firsthand. When Johnston, for unknown reasons, fails to return, Doniger persuades three of his graduate assistants -- an architect, a medievalist, and a scientific historian -- to travel back in time, locate the professor, and bring him safely home. Nothing, of course, comes off according to plan.

Within minutes of their arrival at Castelgard, the students -- who are accompanied by "professional" field guides -- are attacked, separated, and very nearly killed. Their dramatic arrival marks the opening movement of an energetic, furiously paced melodrama. Having rigorously established the novel's technological premises, Crichton the scientist now gives way to Crichton the storyteller, and he subjects his characters to a relentless series of battles, betrayals, cliff-hanger conclusions, and hairbreadth escapes. Faced with a mission that must be completed within 37 hours (after which their escape route back to the present is effectively closed), the three time travelers struggle to survive within the harsh realities of a culture that is both familiar and strange, while crises accumulate at both ends of the timeline, and the quantum clock ticks steadily down to zero.

It's all hugely enjoyable and should have Crichton's many readers beating a path to their local bookstores. As is usually the case with Crichton’s fiction, half the fun comes from the sheer range of the author's knowledge, and from the ease with which that knowledge is integrated into the story. During the course of Timeline, we are treated to quick, authoritative discussions on a host of subjects, including: the history and theory of quantum mechanics, the politics of the Hundred Years War, the science of graphology, the economics of the feudal system, the evolution of gunpowder, the proper techniques for riding, climbing, and jousting, and the medieval origins of tennis. Education should always be this painless.

All in all, Timeline strikes me as Crichton’s most effective novel since Rising Sun. Despite the complexity of its scientific underpinnings, it is essentially a story of action and adventure, and it wears its learning lightly. Like the best of Crichton’s earlier fiction, Timeline is intelligent, informative, and a great deal of fun. It is also, if you'll pardon the expression, a quantum leap above most bestselling fiction, and is one of the more substantial entertainments you are likely to encounter in these waning weeks of the millennium.

—Bill Sheehan

From the Publisher
"COMPULSIVE READING . . . BRILLIANTLY IMAGINED."
--Los Angeles Times

"EXCITING . . . CLASSIC ADVENTURE . . . [A] SWASHBUCKLING NOVEL . . . CRICHTON DELIVERS."
--USA Today

"MORE SCREAMS PER PAGE . . . THAN JURASSIC PARK AND THE LOST WORLD COMBINED. . . . THE PACE WILL LEAVE MANY BREATHLESSLY GRASPING FOR OXYGEN MASKS."
--San Diego Union-Tribune

From the Paperback edition.

Forbes Magazine
Timeline is a wonderful combination of fast-paced entertainment and information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"And the Oscar for Best Special Effects goes to: Timeline!" Figure maybe three years before those words are spoken, for Crichton's new novel--despite media reports about trouble in selling film rights, which finally went to Paramount--is as cinematic as they come, a shiny science-fantasy adventure powered by a superior high concept: a group of young scientists travel back from our time to medieval southern France to rescue their mentor, who's trapped there. The novel, in fact, may improve as a movie; its complex action, as the scientists are swept into the intrigue of the Hundred Years War, can be confusing on the page (though a supplied map, one of several graphics, helps), and most of its characters wear hats (or armor) of pure white or black. Crichton remains a master of narrative drive and cleverness. From the startling opening, where an old man with garbled speech and body parts materializes in the Arizona desert, through the revelation that a venal industrialist has developed a risky method of time-travel (based on movement between parallel universes; as in Crichton's other work, good, hard science abounds), there's not a dull moment. When elderly Yale history prof Edward Johnston travels back to his beloved 15th century and gets stuck, and his assistants follow to the rescue, excitement runs high, and higher still as Crichton invests his story with terrific period detail and as castles, sword-play, jousts, sudden death and enough bold knights-in-armor and seductive ladies-in-waiting to fill any toystore's action-figure shelves appear. There's strong suspense, too, as Crichton cuts between past and present, where the time-travel machinery has broken: Will the heroes survive and make it back? The novel has a calculated feel but, even so, it engages as no Crichton tale has done since Jurassic Park, as it brings the past back to vigorous, entertaining life. (Nov. 16) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
With Timeline, Crichton has written his best book since Jurassic Park. Sometime in the future, a group of students is studying an archaeological site in France when the professor in charge disappears. While uncovering 600-year-old documents from the remains of a monastery, they discover a note dated April 7, 1357, and written in the professor's hand that says "Help me." Three people then embark on a journey back in time to rescue the professor. The first third of the book sets up the plot and discusses quantum technology. The rest of the story is a heart-pounding adventure in 14th-century France. Crichton is a master at explaining complex concepts in simple terms. As in most of his novels, the characters are forgettable and overshadowed by ideas, but who reads Crichton for his characters? His plot is intriguing, and his well-researched history and science are certain to prompt discussions. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/99.]--Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Iain Pears
Timeline combines all the ingredients that make Crichton's books compulsive reading: a fast-paced story, a hefty dollop of scientific speculation and an almost cinematic structure...A well-researched and brilliantly imagined story...Crichton has so perfected the fusion of thriller with science fiction that his novels define the genre.
Los Angeles Times
Gary K. Wolfe
As an historical novel in an SF frame, Timeline pales in comparison to, say, Connie Willis's Doomsday Book, but it works well enough as an action tale which often seems to be written with the movie script in mind. Overlaying the entire time-travel project however, is another of Chrichton's cynical conspiracies of capitalist greed: what is intially presented as the first great advance in physics that will benefit historians turns out instead to be a multibillion-dollar scheme to control tourism to the past by franchising various hotels and restaurants near famous historical events. The novel's one nod at humor is the CEO's fury at learning that Lincoln's voice at the Gettysburg address sounds like Betty Boop and that Washington huddled near the back of the boat during the crossing of the Delaware; one technician even suggests removing Lincoln's wrinkles using Photoshop. (Even this sort of comedy is done better and more consistently, though in John Kessel's Corrupting Dr. Nice) So in the end, the capitalists who decry the artificiality of Disney and argue that what people really lust for is authenticity turn out to be the same ones who plan to Disnify the whole timestream for profit. Crichton wants us to feel righteous outrage at this, just as we're finishing a novel that did exactly the same thing. It's worth noting, speaking of authenticity, that despite the lengthy bibliography of physics and history that he appends to the novel, the quotation that appears as the book's epigraph is from M.D. Backes's The Hundred Years War in France—a totally fictional book invented by Crichton for the sole purpose of setting up his ersatz version of history.
Locus
USA Today
Timeline, Crichton's swashbuckling novel, could be another otherworldly blockbuster like Jurassic Park...A classic adventure...The author has an uncanny knack for coupling suspense with scientific concepts that captivate the public's imagination.
Daniel Mendelsohn
Crichton's books [are] hugely entertaining, lending thrilling documentary realness to the proceedings . . . His novels are diverting—they're manically entertaining. (I gobbled up Timeline in a single sitting.)
New York Times Book Review
Tom DeHaven
...Exhilarating entertainment...this is an unapologetic novel of high adventure, and a very good one at that.

Entertainment Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679444817
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/16/1999
  • Language: German
  • Edition description: 1 TRADE EDITION
  • Pages: 464
  • Lexile: 620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.58 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, in 1942. His novels include The Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery, Congo, Jurassic Park, and Disclosure. He is also the creator of the television series ER.
Read More Show Less
    1. Also Known As:
      John Michael Crichton (full name), Jeffery Hudson, John Lange
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      November 4, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

Read an Excerpt

They had arranged to have dinner in the old town square of Domme, a village on top of a cliff a few miles from their site. By nightfall, Chris, grumpy all day, had recovered from his bad mood and was looking forward to dinner. He wondered if Marek had heard from the Professor, and if not, what they were going to do about it. He had a sense of expectancy.

His good mood vanished when he arrived to find the stockbroker couples again, sitting at their table. Apparently they'd been invited for a second night. Chris was about to turn around and leave, but Kate got up and quickly put her arm around his waist, and steered him toward the table.

"I'd rather not," he said in a low voice. "I can't stand these people." But then she gave him a little hug, and eased him into a chair. He saw that the stockbrokers must be buying the wine tonight -- Château Lafite-Rothschild '95, easily two thousand francs a bottle.

And he thought, What the hell.

"Well, this is a charming town," one of the women was saying. "We went and saw the walls around the outside. They go on for quite a distance. High, too. And that very pretty gate coming into town, you know, with the two round towers on either side."

Kate nodded. "It's sort of ironic," she said, "that a lot of the villages that we find so charming now were actually the shopping malls of the fourteenth century."

"Shopping malls? How do you mean?" the woman asked.

At that moment, Marek's radio, clipped to his belt, crackled with static.

"André? Are you there?"

It was Elsie. She never came to dinner with the others, but worked late on her cataloging. Marek held up the radio. "Yes, Elsie."

"I just found something very weird, here."

"Yes. . . ."

"Would you ask David to come over? I need his help testing. But I'm telling you guys -- if this is a joke, I don't appreciate it."

With a click, the radio went dead.

"Elsie?"

No answer.

Marek looked around the table. "Anybody play a joke on her?"

They all shook their heads no.

Chris Hughes said, "Maybe she's cracking up. It wouldn't surprise me, all those hours staring at parchment."

"I'll see what she wants," David Stern said, getting up from the table. He headed off into the darkness.

Chris thought of going with him, but Kate looked at him quickly, and gave him a smile. So he eased back in his seat and reached for his wine.

"You were saying -- these towns were like shopping malls?"

"A lot of them were, yes," Kate Erickson said. "These towns were speculative ventures to make money for land developers. Just like shopping malls today. And like malls, they were all built on a similar pattern."

She turned in her chair and pointed to the Domme town square behind them. "See the covered wooden market in the center of the town square? You'll find similar covered markets in lots of towns around here. It means the town is a bastide, a new, fortified village. Nearly a thousand bastide towns were built in France during the fourteenth century. Some of them were built to hold territory. But many of them were built simply to make money."

That got the attention of the stock pickers.

One of the men looked up sharply and said, "Wait a minute. How does building a village make anybody money?"

Kate smiled. "Fourteenth-century economics," she said. "It worked like this. Let's say you're a nobleman who owns a lot of land. Fourteenth-century France is mostly forest, which means that your land is mostly forest, inhabited by wolves. Maybe you have a few farmers here and there who pay you some measly rents. But that's no way to get rich. And because you're a nobleman, you're always desperately in need of money, to fight wars and to entertain in the lavish style that's expected of you.

"So what can you do to increase the income from your lands? You build a new town. You attract people to live in your new town by offering them special tax breaks, special liberties spelled out in the town charter. Basically, you free the townspeople from feudal obligations."

"Why do you give them these breaks?" one of the men said.

"Because pretty soon you'll have merchants and markets in the town, and the taxes and fees generate much more money for you. You charge for everything. For the use of the road to come to the town. For the right to enter the town walls. For the right to set up a stall in the market. For the cost of soldiers to keep order. For providing moneylenders to the market."

"Not bad," one of the men said.

"Not bad at all. And in addition, you take a percentage of everything that's sold in the market."

"Really? What percentage?"

"It depended on the place, and the particular merchandise. In general, one to five percent. So the market is really the reason for the town. You can see it clearly, in the way the town is laid out. Look at the church over there," she said, pointing off to the side. "In earlier centuries, the church was the center of the town. People went to Mass at least once a day. All life revolved around the church. But here in Domme, the church is off to one side. The market is now the center of town."

"So all the money comes from the market?"

"Not entirely, because the fortified town offers protection for the area, which means farmers will clear the nearby land and start new farms. So you increase your farming rents, as well. All in all, a new town was a reliable investment. Which is why so many of these towns were built."

"Is that the only reason the towns were built?"

"No, many were built for military considerations as -- "

Marek's radio crackled. It was Elsie again. "André?"

"Yes," Marek said.

"You better get over here right away. Because I don't know how to handle this."

"Why? What is it?"

"Just come. Now."

The generator chugged loudly, and the farmhouse seemed brilliantly lit in the dark field, under a sky of stars.

They all crowded into the farmhouse. Elsie was sitting at her desk in the center, staring at them. Her eyes seemed distant.

"Elsie?"

"It's impossible," she said.

"What's impossible? What happened here?"

Marek looked over at David Stern, but he was still working at some analysis in the corner of the room.

Elsie sighed. "I don't know, I don't know. . . ."

"Well," Marek said, "start at the beginning."

"Okay," she said. "The beginning." She stood up and crossed the room, where she pointed to a stack of parchments resting on a piece of plastic tarp on the floor. "This is the beginning. The document bundle I designated M-031, dug up from the monastery earlier today. David asked me to do it as soon as possible."

Nobody said anything. They just watched her.

"Okay," she said. "I've been going through the bundle. This is how I do it. I take about ten parchments at a time and bring them over here to my desk." She brought ten over. "Now, I sit down at the desk, and I go through them, one by one. Then, after I've summarized the contents of one sheet, and entered the summary into the computer, I take the sheet to be photographed, over here." She went to the next table, slipped a parchment under the camera.

Marek said, "We're familiar with -- "

"No, you're not," she said sharply. "You're not familiar at all." Elsie went back to her table, took the next parchment off the stack. "Okay. So I go through them one by one. This particular stack consists of all kinds of documents: bills, copies of letters, replies to orders from the bishop, records of crop yields, lists of monastery assets. All dating from about the year 1357."

She took the parchments from the stack, one after the other.

"And then" -- she removed the last one -- "I see this."

They stared.

Nobody said anything.

The parchment was identical in size to the others in the stack, but instead of dense writing in Latin or Old French, this one had only two words, scrawled in plain English:

HELP ME

471357

"In case you're wondering," she said, "that's the Professor's handwriting."

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

They had arranged to have dinner in the old town square of Domme, a village on top of a cliff a few miles from their site. By nightfall, Chris, grumpy all day, had recovered from his bad mood and was looking forward to dinner. He wondered if Marek had heard from the Professor, and if not, what they were going to do about it. He had a sense of expectancy.

His good mood vanished when he arrived to find the stockbroker couples again, sitting at their table. Apparently they'd been invited for a second night. Chris was about to turn around and leave, but Kate got up and quickly put her arm around his waist, and steered him toward the table.

"I'd rather not," he said in a low voice. "I can't stand these people." But then she gave him a little hug, and eased him into a chair. He saw that the stockbrokers must be buying the wine tonight -- Château Lafite-Rothschild '95, easily two thousand francs a bottle.

And he thought, What the hell.

"Well, this is a charming town," one of the women was saying. "We went and saw the walls around the outside. They go on for quite a distance. High, too. And that very pretty gate coming into town, you know, with the two round towers on either side."

Kate nodded. "It's sort of ironic," she said, "that a lot of the villages that we find so charming now were actually the shopping malls of the fourteenth century."

"Shopping malls? How do you mean?" the woman asked.

At that moment, Marek's radio, clipped to his belt, crackled with static.

"André? Are you there?"

It was Elsie. She never came to dinner with the others, but worked late on her cataloging. Marek held up the radio. "Yes, Elsie."

"I just found something very weird, here."

"Yes…”

"Would you ask David to come over? I need his help testing. But I'm telling you guys -- if this is a joke, I don't appreciate it."

With a click, the radio went dead.

"Elsie?"

No answer.

Marek looked around the table. "Anybody play a joke on her?"

They all shook their heads no.

Chris Hughes said, "Maybe she's cracking up. It wouldn't surprise me, all those hours staring at parchment."

"I'll see what she wants," David Stern said, getting up from the table. He headed off into the darkness.

Chris thought of going with him, but Kate looked at him quickly, and gave him a smile. So he eased back in his seat and reached for his wine.



"You were saying -- these towns were like shopping malls?"

"A lot of them were, yes," Kate Erickson said. "These towns were speculative ventures to make money for land developers. Just like shopping malls today. And like malls, they were all built on a similar pattern."

She turned in her chair and pointed to the Domme town square behind them. "See the covered wooden market in the center of the town square? You'll find similar covered markets in lots of towns around here. It means the town is a bastide, a new, fortified village. Nearly a thousand bastide towns were built in France during the fourteenth century. Some of them were built to hold territory. But many of them were built simply to make money."

That got the attention of the stock pickers.

One of the men looked up sharply and said, "Wait a minute. How does building a village make anybody money?"

Kate smiled. "Fourteenth-century economics," she said. "It worked like this. Let's say you're a nobleman who owns a lot of land. Fourteenth-century France is mostly forest, which means that your land is mostly forest, inhabited by wolves. Maybe you have a few farmers here and there who pay you some measly rents. But that's no way to get rich. And because you're a nobleman, you're always desperately in need of money, to fight wars and to entertain in the lavish style that's expected of you.

"So what can you do to increase the income from your lands? You build a new town. You attract people to live in your new town by offering them special tax breaks, special liberties spelled out in the town charter. Basically, you free the townspeople from feudal obligations."

"Why do you give them these breaks?" one of the men said.

"Because pretty soon you'll have merchants and markets in the town, and the taxes and fees generate much more money for you. You charge for everything. For the use of the road to come to the town. For the right to enter the town walls. For the right to set up a stall in the market. For the cost of soldiers to keep order. For providing moneylenders to the market."

"Not bad," one of the men said.

"Not bad at all. And in addition, you take a percentage of everything that's sold in the market."

"Really? What percentage?"

"It depended on the place, and the particular merchandise. In general, one to five percent. So the market is really the reason for the town. You can see it clearly, in the way the town is laid out. Look at the church over there," she said, pointing off to the side. "In earlier centuries, the church was the center of the town. People went to Mass at least once a day. All life revolved around the church. But here in Domme, the church is off to one side. The market is now the center of town."

"So all the money comes from the market?"

"Not entirely, because the fortified town offers protection for the area, which means farmers will clear the nearby land and start new farms. So you increase your farming rents, as well. All in all, a new town was a reliable investment. Which is why so many of these towns were built."

"Is that the only reason the towns were built?"

"No, many were built for military considerations as -- "

Marek's radio crackled. It was Elsie again. "André?"

"Yes," Marek said.

"You better get over here right away. Because I don't know how to handle this."

"Why? What is it?"

"Just come. Now."



The generator chugged loudly, and the farmhouse seemed brilliantly lit in the dark field, under a sky of stars.

They all crowded into the farmhouse. Elsie was sitting at her desk in the center, staring at them. Her eyes seemed distant.

"Elsie?"

"It's impossible," she said.

"What's impossible? What happened here?"

Marek looked over at David Stern, but he was still working at some analysis in the corner of the room.

Elsie sighed. "I don't know, I don't know. . . ."

"Well," Marek said, "start at the beginning."

"Okay," she said. "The beginning." She stood up and crossed the room, where she pointed to a stack of parchments resting on a piece of plastic tarp on the floor. "This is the beginning. The document bundle I designated M-031, dug up from the monastery earlier today. David asked me to do it as soon as possible."

Nobody said anything. They just watched her.

"Okay," she said. "I've been going through the bundle. This is how I do it. I take about ten parchments at a time and bring them over here to my desk." She brought ten over. "Now, I sit down at the desk, and I go through them, one by one. Then, after I've summarized the contents of one sheet, and entered the summary into the computer, I take the sheet to be photographed, over here." She went to the next table, slipped a parchment under the camera.

Marek said, "We're familiar with -- "

"No, you're not," she said sharply. "You're not familiar at all." Elsie went back to her table, took the next parchment off the stack. "Okay. So I go through them one by one. This particular stack consists of all kinds of documents: bills, copies of letters, replies to orders from the bishop, records of crop yields, lists of monastery assets. All dating from about the year 1357."

She took the parchments from the stack, one after the other.

"And then" -- she removed the last one -- "I see this."

They stared.

Nobody said anything.

The parchment was identical in size to the others in the stack, but instead of dense writing in Latin or Old French, this one had only two words, scrawled in plain English:

HELP ME 4/7/1357

"In case you're wondering," she said, "that's the Professor's handwriting."



Excerpted from Timeline by Michael Crichton. Copyright 1999 by Michael Crichton. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 158 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2000

    When It's Put Down, It's Best Left Down

    Crichton worked so hard on convincing us of the plausibility of the technical aspects, that he completed neglected character development. The characters rarely thought of felt anything and most of the plot was constructed through dialogue. It seemed that it was the script for a made-for-TV program. This book lacked engaging characters -- someone you could really care about and whether or not they made it back. By the end, who cared if any made it back. If I was advising anyone about this book, I would tell them to skim the first half and note down the characters -- then read the second half. Never did find out about Traub -- or was that in a part I skipped. It was very hard to make myself read the book for a bookclub meeting. I would put the book down and then forget all I had read when I resumed reading it. I was constantly going back to re-read parts to reacquaint myself with what was happening -- I really didn't care what was happening in the first part. I read the second half in a day -- but it wasn't worth the effort!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2000

    Any Hollywood Hack Would Do Better....

    There is no way this book could have been published were it written by a mortal. It starts on page 166, with first 160 pages wasted. Timetravel-wise, it has more holes in it than a ton of Swiss cheese. The story is poor, so is the writing. Hope the movie will be better.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    This was an amazing story, so much better than the movie that it

    This was an amazing story, so much better than the movie that it was ridiculous! If you have seen the movie you have got to read the book book, if you have not seen the movie, stop, don't  do it read the book instead you won't regret it I promise you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Timeline

    This book makes my top 5. I am a very large fan of SciFi and this book was one of the best. Ever. When my English teacher recommended it, I thought it sounded very...weird. But the first page engulfed me and I read it in just 2 days (I was studying for midterms).<BR/>It saddens me greatly now that Michael Chichton died because I was looking forward to any and all of his novels of the future. I read Jarassic Park a while back, and I fell in love with his work.<BR/>I recommend this to anyone that loves suspensful science fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2007

    Great work!!

    It usually takes me about a month to read an average book due to the nature of my work. TIMELINE only took me five days to do. A great story with lots of action and supense. Definately a must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2006

    Great plotline!

    the beginning of this story was very slow, but once you got past the first few chapters, this book is great. Although at times a bit confusing, if you have a creative imagination, this book is very entertaining!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2006

    amazing

    I am only 15 and I loved it! It was so interesting, and I really dont like science.. but i understood it all. He explained everything with great detail. I really couldn't put it down. The ending was perfect.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2005

    Crichton's Best

    Michael Crichton has certainly headed a step further than what he normally did in his earlier books. Rather than simultaneously introducing prehistoric species in the modern day, he transports modern day beings to medeieval times--something even more dangerous by logic. The fast paced action sequence of this novel is simply awesome and to be appreciated by all. For those who have no interest and think they'll have no interest in history--think again. Crichton's just redefined it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2004

    Firm Grip

    While reading this book I found it hard to put down, but at times necessary. This is how I guage my reading experiences. While 'Timeline' was a terriic read I wasn't lost in his 'world'. There tended to be some drawn out areas which in turn took me out of the reading mode. Today, being a 17 year old, it is hard to find the time to become entangled in a good book, but 'Timeline' did manage to keep me reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2004

    Back to the Future and Back Again

    Michael Chrichton's Timeline is your classic time travel story with lots of adventure and suspense. A group of researchers are excavating a historical site and their friend is sent back in time. As you could guess, when the group of people go to find their missing friend, they lose their ability to get back to reality and are forced to live out the world in Medieval France.This is a very good book that has many twists and turns following the people stuck back in time trying to survive.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2004

    Too Predictable

    I thought the book could have been much better. It was too easy to know what was going to happen next.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2004

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is a must to Read book!!!!!!!!! I had to read it for a book report at my school, i liked it so much i finnished it in a week!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2003

    One of the BEST

    I'm a big Michael Crichton fan, but this is by far one of his best books ever! Very chilling!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2003

    Addictive.... worse than crack

    Wow... I could not put this book down until it was finished. When I did finish it, I could not forget about what I have just read... wanting more. That is how you know you have just read a great story!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2001

    This book was great

    I thought the book was an exciting read. It had action and humor and I also thought the science part was interesting and I don't even like science. To me, it was a page turner. I recommend it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2001

    The Best Book that I've Seen in A Long Time

    Timeline is one of those books that you tend to neglect life so that you can finish the book. There is an amazing way of the sense of urgancy that is put into the plot. I would definately recommend this book to anyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2001

    Speaking of Masterpieces....

    I LOVED THIS BOOK!! This was a fablous book blending ultra-modern technology with 14th century france. I was totally inspired by this book and now I'm in search of all books related to the Black Death and Castlegard! Just read it!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2001

    Michael Crichton Does It Again With Timeline!

    Timeline tells the tale of four archeologists/scientists that make a trip back in time to fourteenth century France. Michael Crichton does it again with this amazing novel that tests the reality of time travel. His incredible detail will have readers believing in a technology that is non-existent today. The four archeologist friends in Timeline go back in time to try to save their Professor who is stuck back in fourteenth century France. Their short stay in the medieval times proves to be quite adventurous, and Crichton loads the story with action packed adventure. I loved this book because it always had me turning pages, and I could never put it down! Crichton just does a magnificent job setting up the story describing a technology that is so far-fetched yet becomes so realistic and believable through his words. I truly felt like I was one of the archeologists in fourteenth century France when reading this book. Crichton is very accurate in his detail according to the time period the story takes place in. The suspense in the book is also wrenching. The story always seems to incorporate some kind of twist or turn when the action has subsided and the way the book comes to an end is wonderful. I thought Timeline was a very good piece of fiction and would recommend it to ANY science-fiction buff. If you love science-fiction, you have to love Michael Crichton. And if you loved Crichton's earlier works such as Jurassic Park and/or The Andromeda Strain, this book will have you on the edge of your seat for almost four hundred pages!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2001

    This book will stand the test of Time !

    Once again, Michael Chrition has written a superb book. If you like history combined with fiction as well as adventure, you will enjoy this book. Imagine being able to travel in time, back to 14th Century France, where its not a peaceful time, to bring back a fellow collegue, who may or may not be alive. The group chosen to go, overcomes many obstacles to complete their mission, including love, death, and choosing to stay behind. The ending is a big suprise, not to mention deserving!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2001

    Superb Book!!!

    I am a 16 year-old high school student that read this book four times! I cant get enough. The science involved in it is absolutly intreaging and the historical fact are amazing, and true! Definetly worth five stars!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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