In the not too distant future (or, in our case, the recent past but whatever…), Earth faces an environmental crisis. Scientists seek to send messages back to the past in the hopes of averting a seemingly inevitable world-wide catastrophe.

To be honest, I knew little about Gregory Benford’s Timescape going in (besides the fact that it was a multiple-award winner), but the short synopsis I read did give me pause. A novel written in the early 1980’s, and set in the late 1990’s! I was fully prepared for a dated SF tale that, while commendable as a product of its era, would, unfortunately, not stand the test of time. As it turns out, however, I was pleasantly surprised. While certain elements of the novel do feel a little passé (specifically those dealing with the sources of the mounting ecological disaster), Timescape holds together surprisingly well almost thirty years after it was first published. This is, in no small part, due to Benford’s background as an astrophysicist and his ability to present a theoretically plausible premise of time travel – in this case, the notion that scientists of the present may be able to send messages back to the past via subatomic particles called tachyons.

While I suppose one could argue this is a work of hard SF, I found most of the science presented, if not exactly easy to follow, then at the very least easy to accept within the framework of the story. Benford does a great job of not only presenting us with the science of the story, but paints a very realistic picture of the lives of the scientists as well, immersing the reader in their struggles with everything from their complex work to their equally complex private lives. Although I found the focus on the domestic aspects of their lives did slow the narrative down at times, particularly in the novel’s back half, I really did enjoy the attempts to humanize our protagonists – a bunch of physicists who, let‘s face it, are a far cry from the fearless heroes of most scifi.

As far as time-travel stories go, Timescape offers one of the most believable treatments of the subject. That said, I still had trouble accepting the notion that the simple act of fragmenting messages to the past would help the scientists of the present avoid a grandfather paradox (I travel in time and kill my grandfather, thus ensuring I’m never born. But because I’m never born, I can’t go back in time to kill my grandfather. As a result, my grandfather lives and I am born, allowing me to go back in time to kill my grandfather. But…). If the scientists of the future are able to send a message back to the past, allowing scientists of the past to avoid the mistakes they are seemingly destined to make and avoid a future ecological disaster, then that means the future ecological disaster will not occur. And if it doesn’t occur, then there would be no reason for scientists from the future to send a message back to the past. As a result, the message would never be sent and the scientists of the past would never be warned, resulting in the future playing out as feared. And yet by novel’s end, the past is changed – and we are offered a glimpse of the last few days of our future protagonists, suggesting that an alternate timeline has been created, thus avoiding the paradox and allowing us a neat segue into the various theories of time travel:

Theory #1: The future is unalterable and any attempt to change it will ultimately prove futile. You could go back to the past and attempt to kill your grandfather, but you could never succeed.

Theory #2: The Infinity Loop best exemplified by the movie 12 Monkeys. The past can be changed but only because the agent of change was always fated to take said action.

Theory #3: In influencing the past, you create an alternate timeline. Thus, in your timeline, your grandfather lived and you were born but, in the alternate timeline you created, your grandfather died and you were never born.

Theory #1 avoids the paradox but, generally, doesn’t make for a very interesting story.

Theory #2, doesn’t really avoid the paradox and, more often than not, ends up adopting Theory #1’s view of the immutable timeline.

Theory #3, avoids the paradox but can in many cases prove unsatisfying in that YOUR timeline isn’t the one being influenced. Honestly, while I’m happy Alternate Timeline Joe was able to avoid breaking his arm in fourth grade gym class thanks to my timely intercession but, really, I’d be a hell of a lot happier if it was the Joe of this timeline.

But who am I to argue with the wonderful world of physics.

What were we discussing? Oh, right!

Timescape was an enjoyable book that, interestingly enough all things considered, read more like an alternate history than a glimpse at our possible future. Of course, this had everything to do with the fact that the events of the novel’s future were taking place in 1998 than any shortcomings in the narrative. Nevertheless, Timescape is an effective cautionary tale that proves itself, at times, chillingly prescient.

Your thoughts?

Mailbag –

Charles Schneider writes: “Do you think that with the movies, you’ll be doing two separate panels again?”

Answer: We will definitely being doing two separate panels at this year’s San Diego Comic Con – one for Continuum, the other for Atlantis.

Majorsal writes: “If there’s a season 6 of atlantis (hopes), would sam make a visit or two?”

Answer: I don’t see why not.

Eva K writes: “Any firm idea about when the dvd is going to released in the US?”

Answer: I’ve heard it’ll be a mid-Summer release.

David writes: “I was wondering, do you have a Facebook? ’cause it would be cool to have you on my friends list!!”

Answer: I did, until this day –

Paloosa writes: “But if this ends up being Atlantis’ last season, and there are no more movies, what happens to you?”

Answer: Hard to say at this point. If season 5 turns out to be our final season, I imagine there would be a movie or two in Atlantis’s future. Paul and I also have a number of pilot scripts we’ve been sitting on…

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Off to Vij’s tomorrow night!”

Answer: How did you enjoy Vij’s? And, more importantly, how long did you have to wait for a table?

Moms2398 writes: “I’ve read your blogs regarding college ball, but would you care to weigh in on who should be NBA MVP?”

Answer: Love college basketball, college football, and the NFL. Am indifferent toward the NBA, NHL, and MLB.

Blaine Nielsen writes: “when you are down with your script and you submit it to the other writers to read through and add notes, do they each get a copy or if there one copy of the script shared among them?”

Answer: Everybody gets a copy, reads the script, and makes notes on their copy. Later, we’ll gather and everyone will consult the notes on their respective copies to help refresh their minds (although, in my case, this is easier said than done because half the time I can’t even read my own writing). The writer will get the notes, mark them down on his script, and then head off to work on the next draft.

Mackenzie’s Momma writes: “ just wanted to check and make sure that Baron Destructo, received the E-mail I sent him? I’ll be back in Vancouver on Tuesday visiting the wonderful Trish and Allie, any sight seeing suggestions?”

Answers: Thanks for the pics. They are being enjoyed by The League of Aliens and Mutants for Evil as we speak. As for sightseeing suggestions – hmmmmm. Hate to say it, but you’re asking the wrong guy.

Daniel’s Shadow writes: “Just want to say it is not L-Jade in the picture with you but it actually Daniel’s Shadow.”

Answer: Oops. Sorry. It’s been fixed.

Claimial writes: “Why would MGM or SciFi or whoever is responsible for making these kinds of decisions cancel a show that is doing so great?”

Answer: It all comes down to economics. The longer a show runs, the more expensive it is to produce. When it reaches the point that the costs outweigh the financial benefits, then the plug is pulled. But that’s not to say we’ve reached that point however.

Evie writes: “I said I did and that I read the blog each morning. There was another pause before she pointed out how much she disliked you! […] Any chance I could get some horrific super-fan type autographed picture of you to hang lovingly in my new hostile work environment?”

Answer: All too often, one hates and fears that which one does not understand – or maybe dated years back. Her name wouldn’t happen to be Bonnie, Lisa or Theresa by any chance?

Airelle writes: “How is Lulu doing?”

Answer: Great. She’s on the mend and as scrappy as ever.

83 thoughts on “April 7, 2008: Timescape, by Gregory Benford. What’d you think?

  1. Hey Joe. Question from yesterday’s blog entry. Was there any particular reason why Michael Shanks looked like he wanted to hit you, or was it that you just managed to snap him at the wrong moment?

  2. I’m curious about the difference about being a producer and then being a producer who has a production company. I believe that Gecko was RDA’s and MG’s company and it left when they left, but why or why don’t all producers have production companies? And what are the roles of the many different producers? Which producer does “the buck actually stop at?” Cuz there seems to be many (not just on your show) I’ve read that producer is the most misunderstood job, do you agree with this? Long time no post, but I read every day…..

  3. I was reading your blogs about when you go and eat at Fuel. When you go there, is it only fans there, or do you just go on random nights and meet whoever is there?

  4. Hi Joe,

    I enjoyed Timescape, although I too felt that the private life stuff slowed down the story.

    I would have liked to see a more complete resolution of the “future” story. IMO it ended rather abruptly, although you can assume that the end wasn’t pretty for that timeline. It’s a shame that the future timeline that did all the work didn’t get to reap the benefits.

    I just finished Speed of Dark (wonderful!), The Name of the Wind (awesome–but I HATE having to wait til April 2009 for the next book!!), and Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life (I liked the numbers one and the title stories best). Thanks for the recommendations.

    On a Stargate note, my husband and I watched Ark of Truth this weekend. It was great! We can’t wait for Continuum and S5 SGA!

  5. Joe please put more Lulu pics on your blog !!
    If I may do so a shippy question I’m hoping you’ll tease about 😉
    My canon shipping couple is John and Teyla but my friend ships for Lorne and Teyla so any chance of a Lorne/Teyla romantic connection ?
    Also can you hint at name of Teyla’s Baby ?

    Thank You !!

  6. Majorsal writes: “If there’s a season 6 of atlantis (hopes), would sam make a visit or two?”

    Answer: I don’t see why not.


    on the whole time travel scenario…

    this reminds of the movie ‘somewhere in time’. christopher reeves’ character sees an old lady that comes up to him and hands him a locket and whispers ‘come back to me’. some time after that, he’s visiting some place and sees a picture of an early 1900s era actress and he’s immediately intrigued with her. so intrigued that he finds a way of going through time to meet her. we find out that picture that he loved so much was her smiling at *him* at the time, when he ended up going back in time. that old lady with the locket was her too. so, which came first? he met the old lady then saw the picture of her, which made him want to go back and meet her. but when she lost him those years ago (because he returned to his time), she ended up waiting for him in the future so she could give him the locket and… and the picture he loved was her smiling lovingly at him… this is like a circle that seems to have no beginning point. 😯

    sally =)

  7. Joe,

    Just wanted to thank you for answering my question about NBA MVP. Any word on the others? Will there be any mention of John’s mother or what caused the rift between his father and him, anytime soon?

    Thanks again!


  8. hey Joe,

    that’s good news, looking forward to Comic Con. according to several articles Continuum will be released on the 29th (july). you’re right its all economics but looking at the numbers for season 4 (especially the second half) makes me think there’s a VERY good chance for another season. well you should certainly know more than us fans – or not :D. anyway I’m glad you’d still like Sam to visit Atlantis in s6 (etc) 🙂

  9. So, just out of curiosity, Joe…when time travel is involved in the Stargate universe…be it 1969, 2010, Moebius, The Last Man or Continuum…which of those time travel theories do you base it on? 1,2 or 3?

  10. I’m still drooling over the whole getting to watch “Continuum” in a theatre thing… I feel like kicking the back of Father Time’s driver’s seat while obnoxiously yelling “Is it July yet? Is it July yet? Is it July yet?”

    I actually have a question today- it’s about Martin Gero’s upcoming “Young People Fucking.” I know it gets released on April 18th, and I’ve been trying to find out if it’ll be playing at any theatre in my city (London, Ontario), but every theatre I call or e-mail (a Rainbow Cinemas, a few Cineplex Odeons and an Empire) gives me the same response; “We’re not sure, check the website” (which inevitably makes no mention of it as an upcoming feature). The “YPF” website doesn’t seem to have a listing, so I was just wondering if there’s a listing somewhere that I’m missing…? It wouldn’t be the first time I miss something so close it could flick me on the nose…

    Anywho, glad to hear Lulu’s getting better. 🙂



  11. It seems to me like you missed a fourth theory of time travel: It Just Works. If you change the past, the changes overwrite what “happened”. But if you fix the future, it doesn’t matter that you don’t time travel back again; it only needed to happen the one time.

    This is the method that it seems like Stargate uses most of the time: see “2010” and “Moebius”, especially.

  12. My memory is fuzzy – I read this about 15 years ago – but I do remember liking this one. Time travel is a favorite trope of mine and Benford handled it well, or at least with enough reality-based technospeak to make it sound plausible. Ditto on the over-characterization. One of the things that I *do* remember is the frequent use of “La Jolla”. But overall, a good book.

  13. Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the ‘Fuel’ experience on Tuesday. I would like to tell you how nice the manager was that evening. He called a cab for me and asked me to wait inside rather than outside. Appreciated that.

    One question. Did you have a chance to look at the tribute to dogs that I gave you? I thought it was rather humbling. Just goes to show you that walking upright and having a so-called brain doesn’t exactly make us superior. Hope you enjoyed it.


  14. (Tears up notes taken in preparation for discussing Timescape). Either I’m channelling you ( a terrifying thought for more than one reason), you found and cribbed my notes, or it’s a case of great minds think alike. Ok, I know my mind isnt great. but can’t a gal pretend?
    Just to add a few points to your own on-the-mark comments. Somehow I had managed to avoid this book until its selection in the club. As a “hard sci-fi” fan, I enjoyed the opening chapter’s segue of domestic reality into the meat of the story. With a few well placed broad strokes, Benford lays out the theoretical science behind his plot. Peterson is established early on as a “villain”, another “broad stroke” that lays out plot.
    It was in the Benford’s lighter touches, though, that most impressed me. For one, the increasing level of dread and doom he built up in the world of 1998, as the ecological disaster grows, and civilization comes grinding to a halt. It was this half of the story that I most enjoyed. The increasing desperation, the determination of the Cambridge team..the unexpected loss of one of Markham adding to the despair. And while Peterson never reaches the status of a protagonist, he’s presented as much more multi-layered character than i’d have expected as someone whose initial function was to allow the reader to follow the scientific premises of the plot.
    The 1962-1963 side of the story did bog down for me a bit. Mostly in Gordon’s domsstic relationship, which I felt took up too many pages. I did enjoy the subplot of Coooper’s thesis work, as well as Gordon’s “fall from grace” when his work is presented out of the normal channels by Saul. And I have to admit I was watching the dates carefully as they approached November of 1963. I was still caught offguard when “that day” played out, but overall I thought it worked well. The jumpt to 1974, and our final glimpse of certain characters was satisfying as well. The closing of the 1998 characters was also gratifying, handled in a low key way that still sent a shiver down my spine. The world does end with a whimper, and not a bang…
    I’d give this one an 8.5 out of 10, a book that I had no regrets reading, or getting engaged by.

  15. Hmm. While I haven’t read this month’s selection (my library list is stalled while I go through a box at home), your time travel theories gave me pause. What is your take on these theories in relation to 2010? Alternate universe?

  16. The risk with hard SF is that the presentation of the science will stop the story cold. Also, some hard SF writers tend to treat the characters as window dressing or even an afterthought to the science. It’s more about the idea than it is the story.

    I’m happy that Gregory Benford avoided these problems. He did a great job of blending in the science. I enjoyed reading the explanations and didn’t feel they interrupted the flow of the narrative. His characters, too, were interesting he gave them emotional depth and understandable motivation. Like you, I enjoyed the humanizing of the scientists. Certainly not your typical heroes.

    I felt sorry for the future characters when it became apparent they would not be the benficiaries of the changes they implemented. Still, one or two knew the risks. Would they have done it, though, if they definitely knew they wouldn’t reap the benefits? Would we?

    I liked the twist that more messages were being received from further into the future. Do you listen?

    Benford did a fair job of constructing the socioeconomic future should we suffer environmental disaster. I was fascinated by the politics of science and was even slightly disturbed by the idea that research and forward progress can be based on intentional half-truths.

  17. I did a search through your blog and noticed you gave a brief review of His Majesty’s Dragon. Since you seemed to enjoy it, I was wondering, did you read any of the sequels? I’m working my way through the second book and I have to say I’ve been very impressed so far. The writing’s very entertaining and, as you noted in your review, the relationship between Laurence and Temeraire is wonderful, although I also very much enjoy the way Temeraire interacts with the other dragon. (My one complaint is the handling of the relationship between Laurence and Jane. It seems, to me, in conflict with certain aspects of his character and makes him out to be a bit hypocritical in my mind.)

    I know, not the book we’re discussing at the moment, but I’m afraid I didn’t manage to read Timescape.

  18. Was economics part of the decision not to have Sam on for the next season, or was it purely because of her new show? If salaries were getting to be a problem on SG-1, I’m assuming they’d be an issue for old SG1 personnel…

  19. That’s great news. It seems like there’s almost too much to talk about in the alotted time during any convention, let alone CCI. I’m really looking forward to going after missing last year.
    You probably know how hard it is to get a decent room during that week within 10 miles of the convention center. It took me almost two hours last night just to find one.

    Speaking of creative authors (audio/visual/literary) it’s always refreshing when a really educated person uses their background in a creative way. It reminds me of the stories of writer’s meetings at the Futurama offices. Hilarious and mind-boggling.

  20. In the not too distant future (or, in our case, the recent past but whatever…), Earth faces an environmental crisis.

    No no, not too distant future is about right. 😉

    Theory #1: …
    Theory #2: …
    Theory #3: …

    And of course Theory #4, that anything we do (since potentially anything we do do causes a future paradox) will spawn a new time line. Apparently there is some support for that notion in quantum theory (of which I know nothing so they can suggest anything)

    Of course with the paradigm shift 3 and 4 has on the weltanschauung it can indeed seem a bit pointless to change the future when you can’t. I think the trick is to write stories accepting the new limitations (ie, not constantly disabling transporters to write yet another ‘run they are shooting at us’ story 😉 ) – perhaps religious zealots believing there is one true time line and all others must be exterminated – or a quest to force creation of certain new time lines (a world where the earth is full of oil but no higher level life ever evolved, then that can be siphoned of to other worlds) –

    The Canadian/South Africa TV series “Charlie Jade” doesn’t time travel but it does skate across the time lines (and sometimes your other self is so much further along than you are so it almost seems like time travel) and might be worth a look for the scientifically inclined. For some inexplicable reason SCI FI have finally decided to try its one and only season out, and it is schedule to premiere on SCI FI primetime on May 30th, assuming of course that an executive doesn’t actually look at it and concludes that it moves at a glacial level and the audience would never understand it anyway :o)

  21. I’d definitely say Timescape qualifies as hard sci-fi, genre-wise, though you’re correct in saying the physics was fairly easy to grasp. And surprisingly, I liked it. I can’t think of a true hard sci-fi novel I’ve read, so, success on the first try.

    I actually liked the personal lives…in fact, I didn’t feel like there was enough. Looking back on the book, I’m amazed at how little was revealed in so many pages. And yet, I want more. I felt like I didn’t get to know Majorie at all, and in the grand scheme, I don’t see why we needed to know anything as she played no pivotal role in the narrative. I suppose she was there to be John Q Public, to show how the crisis was affecting “normal” people, not just the scientists. I found myself really liking Markham and Bernstein. And interestingly, I suspect most people will have a distaste for Peterson, but I found him rather fascinating. He was the most complex character, not so much a villain as a roadblock, or an anti-hero. I wanted to see further into his future, to see how his preparations lasted. Did he survive the whole effect locked away? Or at some point, did he ultimately fall like everyone else because without people working on the crisis, nothing contained it?

    I enjoyed how the crisis was never fully explained. Sure, we find out the basics: the bloom, the pesticides having started it, the clouds and destruction of crops, contamination…but even with all that, there was still an air of mystery. It wasn’t an alien or people to fight off; nature is much more uncontrollable and therefore, almost more enticing as a plot subject. And going on that, being a big fan of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and (oddly enough) having taken an environmental history class, I found it even more so. And while yes, the problem doesn’t seem so prevalent now (as you said, the sources being outdated), I find it highly topical considering there are still countries who illegally use DDT and the like.

    I really enjoyed the physics behind it, the theories of time and mini-universes. I’ll admit, I couldn’t help but think of all the great AR episodes Stargate has done. It makes you sympathize for the fact that despite all efforts, they couldn’t change their future. And what does that in turn suggest? A form of destiny or fate? Or rather, nothing at all? I especially found interesting that the past could be changed, as long as there were no paradoxes. But just who is that ultimate observer and how does that affect the outcome? For whom is the paradox related? After all, we see the AR created when the effects of the pesticides are revealed, thus preventing a future full of them leading to the bloom. That affected the planet. But what if that note (received by Peterson) had paradoxically affected only one person? Would it have split off an AR there, making it so the original Peterson never received it and they didn’t know that the tachyon process actually worked in some manner? I liked this storyline so much because it made me ponder issues hidden in the story, and some not even relevant.

    Finally, one of the things I had fun with, was the comparisons of the British and American cultures, mainly, I think, because it’s so relevant to my own life currently.

    I enjoyed the writing, the plot, and ultimately, the book. I did feel like something was missing, but in the end, it doesn’t take away too much from the book.

  22. RE: Gregory Benford’s Timescape: I liked it! 🙂

    The future storyline, of a diatom bloom destroying the ocean, reminded me of Clive Cussler’s Sahara (great book, OK movie). We need to preserve the oceans and forests for carbon-based lifeform survival. (That includes humans, BTW!)

    Reading the 1998 sections made me want to stock up on canned goods and polish the shotgun, but then we’d move back to 1963, before I was born, and I would feel better. I enjoyed the family aspects of our “heroes,” because heroes’ personal lives are so often ignored, or, almost stereotypically, our fictional heroes are lone wolves – Sheppard and O’Neill? Yeah sure, a scientist may be off saving the world, but he should be home for supper! Since most all of us leave complex and conflicted lives, I thought this was a nice, different take on heroes and who they really are from Mr. Benford. But then, in the back half and especially towards the end, he drops the family and some of the main characters(!) and it becomes a nice wrap-up for everyone who is left.

    I really don’t know why Peterson was in this book. First of all, he was a dick. He used (married!) women for sex, left his wife (no matter what their relationship, it was cold to leave her to the whims of wind and weather, considering what those clouds could do) and, worst of all for me, used the “c word” with those nurses. After the hospital scene, I could care less if he lived or died. I put that word down where the “n word” exists – I don’t even think that crap.

    I haven’t studied physics, so perhaps that’s the reason I got a bit confused about the paradox. At one point, it seemed Renfrew had to send the bank safety deposit box message to avoid the paradox, then it seemed if he did send the message it would create the paradox. Not quite sure where things got switched around in my brain or the book.

    I expected Markham to die on the plane. I don’t know why – maybe I’ve read too much sci-fi and watched too much TV, but I didn’t think he’d make it to New York alive. Still, it was sad that he died. At least he was honest to who and what he was.

    It took me a while to realize there was no Internet in Timescape. My hub was on Compuserve back in 1984, and as primitive as it was, it was some kind of communication with others around the country and world – and he was a sophomore in high school! I’m not saying Mr. Benford could have predicted all that the ‘Net is (BLOGS!), but his communication devices were definitely 20th Century. The reason it took me a while to remember the Internet is because I get most of my news from the radio, much like the characters in the book.

    I see the divergent timelines – some are still doomed and some will change and survive – as in line with the Stargate ‘verse. Reminds me of the end of SG-1
    s Moebius Pt. 2. Renfrew was happy because he heard a msg from the future, thereby “proving” to him someone still survived, i.e. “things will be OK.” Of course, his life is a shambles and his wife cheated on him, but as long as some human survives, he could go home. OK. I guess. Still working on that one.

    Not sure if I liked that Gordon and Penny didn’t work out. It makes sense – they were too different, but I had to flip back in the book and try to figure out where in the heck Wife #2 showed up! Kinda cool, but…uh…not very romantic or positive. I got the whole, “Don’t try to relate to people different from you” vibe. Of course, I fall straight into this category, marrying someone about my age from near-ish my hometown (within 3 hours – close enough).

    Gregory Benford is a good writer – Timescape was a page-turner for me. The environmental doom aspect made me wonder if last-week’s Anthony would enjoy reading it, but even as “pure fiction,” it was a good book.

    Physics, including tachyons, was difficult to understand completely, but I still got the gist of it. (Reminds me of reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – except that was advanced math.) I may not fully understand it, but I find advanced science and math interesting – including the study of neutrinos in an unused gold mine near where I grew up.


    I have already recommended Timescape to two people – and would recommend Sahara to those who really got into the adventure and environmental aspect of the book. Dirk Pitt may not be as accessible as Bernstein or Renfrew, but his mission is just as clear.

    Last bit – the changing of time and Kennedy surviving to create the “Kennedy dynasty.” Also, how Renfrew and Bernstein knew or perceived things had changed. Those didn’t sell me on the concepts Benford was trying to sell. I felt like he was trying to make a “point” by having Kennedy survive – after I figured out it wasn’t just a writing glitch, but part of the plot – a point I wasn’t going to buy. Maybe it would mean more to someone who experienced Nov 22, 1963?


  23. Hey Joe,

    Loved your comments on Timescape and the paradox issues with Time Travel. I hope I can get my hands on it soon. The first time I saw 12 Monkeys my reaction was “My brain hurts!”, said in much the same manner as the Gumby sketch from Monty Python. But I like that kind of pain. Did I say that out loud?

    Evie – I’m adding my weight behind you to take on these new work colleagues – all 46kgs of it (does muscle man pose with angry face and growl). Don’t be disappointed by the weight I’m adding! The local bottle shop attendant said to a surprised customer (as I walked out with three bags of shopping, two bottles of wine and a slab) “she might be little but she can lift heavy things”. A proud moment for me.

    As nice as the comment was, if only he knew that it’s because the trolleys end up weapons of mass destruction when trying to push them across a hill to my car that I have to carry everything, because I could really have done with a hand! I mean, who carries that much stuff for fun?!

    Sorry, back on topic. There’s a little bit of a flaw in your work mates’ thinking. Joe plays such a large part in shaping the characters that they watch. Don’t like Joe but love Stargate? Is that similar to saying “I love watching House but that Hugh Laurie guy really bothers me”?

    Anyway, back to work.
    Have a great day/night/yesterday everyone.

    PS: Thanks for the heads up Kimberly. Love British humour so that’s just added another tick as to why I’m looking forward to watching it 🙂

  24. Chev – thanks for the info on the lenticular cover. Very snazzy. It is the lenticular cover or a collector’s DVD tin as the choices. Hmmmm – decisions, decisions.

  25. I was wondering when the Baron and Cookie Monster might start giving out advice? I have a thorn at work who I am doing my best to avoid but she, I mean it, keeps growing.

  26. On Timescape:

    Joe said: “Although I found the focus on the domestic aspects of their lives did slow the narrative down at times, particularly in the novel’s back half, I really did enjoy the attempts to humanize our protagonists – a bunch of physicists who, let‘s face it, are a far cry from the fearless heroes of most scifi.”

    I would say that I agreed with you in part here, Joe. The pace did seem to lag a bit at times, and I found myself wondering when the author would get back to what I assumed to be the “real” story: the hard, straight physics, and the attempts by scientists to contact the past in an effort to change the future. But by the end of the novel, I came to the realization that all of it—the scientific and the domestic complexities—WERE the “real” story, intertwined and unable to be separated. Markham himself points out the fact that the scientific theories they all pursue are shaped and guided by their own unique perception of the world around them, and that true “objective” science is an impossibility.
    That being said, the novel as a whole made me contemplate the nature of time differently, begging the questions: Is the past a tangible, living, presence influencing us today? Is the future too far away to really catch a glimpse of? Is the present all we can really hang our hats on? It is my belief that, like objectivity in science, the segregation of past, present, and future is also impossible. Through Markham, Benford reflects: “Englishmen were fish swimming in this sea of the past. For them it was a palpable presence, a living extension, commenting on events like a half-heard stage whisper. Americans regarded the past as a parenthesis within the running sentences of the present, an aside, something out of the flow….It seemed that in a muzzy sense the past was still here, that they were all connected, and that the perception of the future as a tangible thing lived in the present, as well.” (pg. 208-09) A comforting sentiment.

    All in all, a great read. Thanks for the recommendation, Joe!

  27. Hey Joe, hope you bet on Kansas because they are the Champions! Sorry, being from Kansas I just have to toot my horn. Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU!!!!!!!

  28. I read Timescape a month or two ago so I’ll do my best to remember the details 🙂

    This was the first Sci-Fi novel I’d ever read! I read it for one of my classes, and considering I’d never read SF before this I wasn’t sure how I would like the book. Overall I thought it was an ok read. For me I was slightly turned off by the fact that it was hard SF. I found myself wanting to read more about the characters than the science. I understood the science well enough but I found it somewhat dull. The characters were interesting and had real life problems, though I definitely could have done without Peterson and his conquest to bed every woman he came across!

    As for the Grandfather Paradox thing. The way I saw it was that they sent enough information to help with their problem, but not enough to entirely fix it. So in the future they would still have a reason to send messages, but they just wouldn’t be as screwed as they were before.

    I thought the alternate timeline aspect was interesting, and I was extremely happy that we saw Markham alive again, the only character that I really loved, at Gordon’s ceremony thing.

    If I were to grade it I’d give it a B overall 🙂

  29. If the scientists of the future are able to send a message back to the past, allowing scientists of the past to avoid the mistakes they are seemingly destined to make and avoid a future ecological disaster, then that means the future ecological disaster will not occur. And if it doesn’t occur, then there would be no reason for scientists from the future to send a message back to the past. As a result, the message would never be sent and the scientists of the past would never be warned, resulting in the future playing out as feared.

    Which resurrects my question to you of March 12, 2008, regarding the paradox that was created when Sheppard returned to Atlantis 12 days after he disappeared, despite having been sent 48,000 years into the future.

    Did he return to the Atlantis he left? Or did he end up in an alternate timeline that was created when he returned and diverged from the original timeline? Is the answer lost in some esoteric explanation that has yet to be devised?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  30. What you said about time paradox’s definitely makes me wonder about Stargate’s time travelling.

    When I first saw Mobieus, I felt really down because I saw it as the original timeline SG-1 got left in the past and only Daniel survived. We got a new timeline with fish in Jack’s pond, but it wasn’t the same.

    I get really confused by the whole thing… they go back then forth sometimes, but stay behind in others. What is the Stargate timetravel policy?

  31. Joe said:
    This is, in no small part, due to Benford’s background as an astrophysicist and his ability to present a theoretically plausible premise of time travel – in this case, the notion that scientists of the present may be able to send messages back to the past via subatomic particles called tachyons.

    While I suppose one could argue this is a work of hard SF, I found most of the science presented, if not exactly easy to follow, then at the very least easy to accept within the framework of the story.

    Maybe not such a work of hard SF. According to an article called “Are we creating a time tunnel?”, scientists say might be able to “rip a hole in space time that would allow more sophisticated civilisations in future years to come back in time.”

    So Sci-Fi meet real life…theoretically! LOL


  32. Or maybe it still is hard SF…lol…

    I should have said that soon it may be true, according to some scientists.


  33. Answer: The longer a show runs, the more expensive it is to produce. When it reaches the point that the costs outweigh the financial benefits, then the plug is pulled.

    Why is it more expensive the longer a show runs? I thought the initial set up of a show would be the most expensive. And, then once you had your main sets built, actors hired, etc(I know there’s a lot in that etc)and got the show running smoothly, the costs would start to go down. Unless, then the salaries escalate and make the show unfeasible?

    Am I close?


  34. “Mackenzie’s Momma writes: “ just wanted to check and make sure that Baron Destructo, received the E-mail I sent him? I’ll be back in Vancouver on Tuesday visiting the wonderful Trish and Allie, any sight seeing suggestions?”

    Answers: Thanks for the pics. They are being enjoyed by The League of Aliens and Mutants for Evil as we speak. As for sightseeing suggestions – hmmmmm. Hate to say it, but you’re asking the wrong guy.”

    Now, TLAME, isn’t going to hunt me down and kill me are they? 😉 We are going to the aquarium though we may also toss in a visit to the gate of the studios weather permitting.

  35. Hi i have recently found your blog, and i have injoyed it. I would like to know where i would go to find a schdedul of events that you or any other stargate member would show up at. thank you. connie

  36. Joe, when I decided to read Timescape, April 7 seemed so far away, yet here I sit, not even halfway through it.

    It’s not that it’s a bad book — just last night I marked a passage that I thought was particularly well-written and good — but something about it hasn’t really grabbed me. With ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife,’ ‘Alas, Babylon’ and ‘Good Omens,’ I frequently found myself blasting through tiredness so I could read “just one more chapter” until eventually it was some ungodly hour of the morning and one more chapter had become oh, so many. But I’m just not feeling that way with Timescape.

    I think you’re right and it’s the personal-life stuff that’s slowing it down, particularly the 1963 bits. Part of that is probably just that I don’t care so much about Gordon’s girlfriend and pushy mom, but I think more than that, at this point, anyway, is that with his time, we’re really just waiting around for them to figure it out, whereas in 1998 we KNOW that they’re doing things with a purpose because things are bad. And I think that that also makes their personal lives far more interesting. So I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.

    Regarding the time travel theories, Theory 1 reminds me a lot of The Time Traveler’s Wife. Theory 2, I’m afraid I don’t quite understand (Should I add 12 Monkeys to my list of must-sees?).

    Theory 3 is what I always think of when it comes to time travel stories. I’m sure I first heard of it through the Back to the Future movies, and I was going to say something about the the Terminator franchise, but to be honest, I’m still trying to work my head around that one.

    But regardless, I’m a personal fan of the creating alternate timelines idea, and I think you explained it marvelously with poor 4th-grade Joe and his luckier other self (and may I again recommend “From the Corner of His Eye” by Dean Koontz).

    I would say more, but it would probably be helpful if I, you know, finished. So I’m going to go do that over my weekend (yay for Tues/Wed weekends) and then I may be back.

    In the meantime, I’m going to share my have-only-read-to-page-114 theory and say that the noise Renfrew and the ’98 crew are worried about is actually a message from the even more distant future, and they — much like the 1963 group — just don’t realize it. And now I’m going to feel really dumb if that’s not the case, so try not to point and laugh for too long.

  37. I think I’m living in my alternate timeline, either that or someone needs to write me some action!

  38. Oh, and as a Jayhawk (well, technically former as of May 2007) can I just say ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS! Yeah!

  39. If time travel existed, one might ask why no one has bothered going back in time and fixing the earths enviroment every once in a while.

    Or why no one has ever bothered taking out the bad guys before they gathered enough power to cause harm.

  40. Joe, you and others have already expressed about 99% of what I thought about the book, in this thorough and thoughtful discusssion on Timescape.

    It took about 3-4 chapters for me to get really involved with both the premise and the characters. Once I reached that stage, though, I could barely put the book down – although as you said things get a bit bogged down later in the book. As you and others have also already said, the story was just as much about personalities and politics as it was about the theory and process of science itself. That’s where I very much appreciated Benford’s insider’s look into the world of science as it actually happens, with only the tachyon and its manipulations, really, as out-and-out fiction – until JFK survives the shooting. (And since the tachyon has a large camp of knowledgeable and firm believers, the particle itself is hypothetical rather than fictional. So I guess it’s Benford’s use of the particle that creates hard sci-fi in Timescape. . .?)

    In reading through the comments, I don’t know if I missed a prior mention of this element; but my impression was that close to the end, something was still definitely not right with the 1998 group’s experiments. Markham was on the verge of scribbling down exactly what was needed on the theoretical end when he died. And I’m not sure that Benford saw that as a bad thing, since on the political scene, he took advantage of John Kennedy’s survival to have Robert Kennedy skewered for “dirty tricks,” thus bringing to an end what he (and others) saw as a “Kennedy dynasty” – or at least I felt he was using Bernstein at that point to express his own views, but maybe I’m reading too much into that scene.

    The impression I got from the book and the afterword (IIRC re. the afterword) was that altering the past didn’t create a separate and distinct timeline, but created a blank slate in place of everything that happened after JFK died. However, I was somewhat confused with a) all that was going on at that point with the characters’ personal lives, and b) the significance of transmissions from further in the future, so I’m not sure I was following the plot and the science itself as Benford intended it. – Also, having Bernstein see the younger version of Markham in the award-ceremony audience, and Bernstein choosing not to talk to him, made it seem to me that Benford was leaving room for people to speculate on what happened subsequently. That made me wonder about Benford’s stand on chaos theory taken to its more extreme logical outcomes.

    I came away from the book very impressed with Benford’s skill with both characterization and portrayal of atmosphere. Plot development, not so much. My favorite character was Bernstein, possibly because it was through his eyes that I saw part of what was roughly my father’s generation. The social history was a part of the book I really loved: for instance, his observations of California vis-a-vis New York, and (as someone else brought up) issues in English vs. American culture. Benford made me think of Ursula LeGuin in the insistence that the context of scientific enedeavor is as important as the science itself – or so I saw it.

    I appreciated the observation that Marjorie Renfrew was used mostly to show us the reality of life in Cambridge in 1998. But even on her own she embodied another aspect of the world of science – the spouse/facilitator, so different from Peterson’s wife, or from Penny. Benford gives us an incredible array of finely drawn character types, and goes to some pains to point out some shade of moral ambiguity in every major (and even secondary) character. And he shows a keen eye for revealing detail in his jumps from LaJolla to Manhattan to a Cambridge that’s both similar to its actual self (from what I’ve read and seen) and is also in an eerie pre-apocalyptic state.

    The storyline, with all its subplots, sometimes seemed as hard to follow as the main course of a boggy river through its delta. Also, I thought the first reveal – that a message actually got through to the past – came a little too early, and the second reveal (JFK’s survival) somewhat late, for maximum effectiveness in plot development. Just my preference on timing.

    All in all, I thought Timescape was a great read.

  41. Narelle from Aus Said:

    Chev – thanks for the info on the lenticular cover. Very snazzy. It is the lenticular cover or a collector’s DVD tin as the choices. Hmmmm – decisions, decisions.

    You’ve gotta go the lenticular cover. The tin will just sit on the shelf but if you get bored you could sit with the cover moving it back and forth and back and forth and….. Trippy! 😀

    I’ve pre-ordered mine with Ezydvd. I’m surprised I don’t get anything with it (usually there’s a cool t-shirt, mousepad, mouse or keyring). I LOVE the free Stargate toys! I’m such a little kid.

    Anyhoo tomorrow’s the big day. AoT arrives, woo hoo! I’m setting aside the entire Wednesday night to watch it. My Gilmore Girls Season 7 box set (that arrives with it) will have to wait ;-).

    Cheers, Chev

  42. Just finished watching Ark of Truth, since it only came out in New Zealand today. Do you think it is possible to pass on a message to Robert C Cooper: that it was absolutely outstanding! That would be great.

  43. So Lulu is on the mend, how are the rest of the dogs doing?

    tomorrow i get to take two of my mice to the vet again… :s they have mites, and i think they had an allergic reaction to the first injection of drugs… but we shall see how that turns out…

  44. Timescape: because it appeared here as a reading choice & I voted for it, I decided to dig it out of my library and give it another go. Unfortunately, it seems my tastes haven’t changed that much in the years between- found it just as tedious this time as it was 20 yrs ago when I tried to read it. Always a bad sign when I start skimming a book.
    But as for time travel which was the only interesting part, I do prefer the multiverse theory quoted and practiced on Stargate which, as I understand it, says every point in time diverges depending on actions and every possible action has been played at every point in time resulting in countless different versions of reality existing at the same time as “mine”. Hope that’s right or I will have misunderstood quite a few fave Stargate episodes. I think of the 20/20 hindsight myth: “if only I had done A differently, B would or wouldn’t have happened.” Of course we have no way of proving if our actions really would’ve resulted in a different outcome, but from where I stand on my head as a non-physicist, it seems like a logical thought.
    Timescape: done, goes into the box of books to be traded at the used bookstore.

    On the same note, John Scalzi’s books arrived and I immediately went for Old Man’s War since it was his first, and found out that I’ve read waaaay too much science fiction in my lifetime so far. In a nutshell, despite some snarky dialogue, I was disappointed to find it came off as a body swapping Starship Troopers. It has joined Timescape in that box. Now I’m less than enthusiastically eyeing Android’s Dream and wondering if that is also just a rehash of something else. I’ll shelve it for a couple weeks and then I will find out because I will need to know whether to try anymore of his books under the fool-me-twice rule.

  45. PS I should mention that Benford has now failed my rule, because I couldn’t get into his Galactic Center series either. Ah well writers’ books, like actors’ performances or painters’ paintings- you either hit it off with them, or ya don’t.

  46. Glad to hear Lulu is feeling good – and scrappy!

    I saw another photo of pugs that I thought you might find amusing: HERE

    Leesa Perrie

  47. I’ll have to get around to reading the BOTM one of these days. I’ve just finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Have you read that? Interesting style. I felt the absence of punctuation really complemented the bleak tale. Made me think of the writing style in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Although he could have tweaked the dialogue a bit. I occasionally had to re-read it to determine which character was speaking.

    It’s perhaps not a book to read on the train, particularly at the end. I’ll be interested to see Viggo Mortensen in the movie adaptation of it.

    Cheers, Chev

    p.s. suggestion – add the titles for the current BOTM to the sidebar.

  48. Chev–> I loved The Road! I mean, loooooooooooooooved it. I could go on for eternity about how much I loved that book, but I won’t. I think you get the picture. 🙂

    Needless to say, to all those out there itching to read a deeply moving piece of post-apocolyptic literature, go pick it up immediately. A thoroughly satisfying read…

  49. I always prefered Theory #4, where you kill your grandfather, and the resulting paradox opens up a wound in time, and Deadly Flying Time Monkeys are released and eat everything.

    Also, on Season 5, I wanted to say that when I heard that Woolsey was going to join the main cast, I was overjoyed. How much of him can we expect to see? Will there be a Woolsey-centric episode?

  50. “If time travel existed, one might ask why no one has bothered going back in time and fixing the earths enviroment every once in a while.”

    That assumes you can.

    “Or why no one has ever bothered taking out the bad guys before they gathered enough power to cause harm.”

    One mans “bad guy” is another mans hero.
    (And it assumes you can, if you just create a new timeline there is little point)

    “How do shows get more expensive as they go longer?”

    Greed I suspect, they want more and more. Also there is the problem of copyright, for instance one of the guys who invented the Simpsons left the show after a few years, but he still has to be paid if someone makes a mug with Homers picture on it.

  51. I like the way JKR did time travel in Harry Potter:

    Once something has happened, you can’t change it… unless it never happened at all. For example, the trio hears Macnair’s axe fall, but they don’t see anything: had they actually seen Buckbeak die in the past, there would have been no way to change it. They go back and rescue Buckbeak, ad the sound of the axe they hear is Macnair swinging at the fence in rage, allowing their past selves to still think Buckbeak is dead.

    So, according to this theory, there would be no way to kill your grandfather before your father is conceived because it hadn’t already happened (because obviously you were born!).

    But you know, according to physics(the theory of relativity, one of my personal favorites!), the only sort of time travel that is possible is to go into the future, not the past. In fact, any time you are moving, (like in a car, bus, train, walking, airplane, etc…) you are technically traveling through time (albeit in infinitesimally small, unnoticeable amounts) because time passes more slowly for you when you are in motion. This becomes much more noticeable when you get closer to the speed of light, because the world is traveling much more slowly than you, and thus you travel much more quickly into the future. But when you try to go faster than the speed of light, you get a negative under the radical in the equation, proving that either you can’t travel backwards in time, or we just aren’t smart enough to have math to back it up yet.

    Ahh, the theory of relativity is amazing. When one of my professors says, “you were late to class” I always say “well, didn’t you teach us that it’s all relative, anyway?”

  52. Hello Joseph =)
    Je suis snif, je vient d’apprendre que je vais passer des éxamin samedi..oiuinnn sa veux dire 2 prise de sang!! Je détéste sa!! Je ne comprendrais jamais pourquoi il leur faut entre 2 et 5 flacon, roalal il n’ont qu’a nous vider de notre sang temp qu’il y sont!!
    Enfin, voila je suis entrin de me préparer psychologiquement=D!


    1)Dans combient de temp aura t’on les premiers trailer de la saison 5?

    2)Vous aimez les prises de sang?

    Voila =) gros Bisouuu!!! a demain! merci♥Je vous adore

  53. I’m now re-reading The Blade Itself in the hopes that I can actually come up with something a tad more eloquent than it was great.
    Then I have Greg Keyes’ The Born Queen to get through. *sighs* Its a tough job but someone has to do it;)

  54. Hi Joe,

    Will there be new opening credits for Season 5? When I mean new, will there be a whole new theme, or will it just add Richard’s and Jewel’s name to the credits?

    Also, when do you think we will start to see ads/promos for Season 5 on SCI FI ?

    On another note, just read a press release on Multichannel news. Atlantis had around a 30% increase from last season in certain demos for Season 4.5, like age 18 to 49, and 25 to 54 yo. Do you think that will increase the chances for a Season 6 pickup?



  55. I love your thoughts on Timescape Joe.

    Here are mine:

    For me the science made it difficult and heavy going in places but the attention to the characters and their lives added a lot of heart and soul to the story. Benford says that the science is both real and speculative and with some of it, well probably most of it, for me I can only guess at which is which. I have to say that the mentioning of tachyon particles always makes me think of Star Trek. The speculation on the grandfather paradox is fun. Your explanations make it easier – you’ve thought a lot about this haven’t you! It does succeed in making you think about the meaning of time and paradoxes and all those possibilities and making your brain really hurt.

    The most memorable characters for me were firstly Ian Peterson.
    He is the colourful cad and bounder of 1998. His attitude to women was outrageous and entertaining but did he have to sleep with every woman he met? Even Marjorie! The explanation at the end as to why he behaved in that way and the provision he had made for his own survival was entirely believable.
    There is an added interest for me as this part of the story is set in my neck of the woods, East Anglia, even mentioning my home town of Dereham. The bolt hole which Peterson sets up for himself, when the world goes to hell in a handcart, is by my calculations, only a few miles down the road from me. This area is very rural and has some very isolated farms and houses. I think it’s likely that the author had a particular place in mind. I have a bit of a theory about that for what it’s worth. One of the authors on the back of the book giving a comment is SF writer Brian Aldiss, he was born in Dereham and he and his family have connections here. Not too much of a stretch to think that Benford has visited the area. Well it makes me happy to think that.

    And secondly in 1962 there is Gordon Bernstein.
    He is my favourite character. I found myself really getting involved in his struggle to understand and interpret the messages being received. His struggle against the rigid views of some of some of his colleagues and the established scientific views: the rivalries with his colleagues: his obsessive nature and self doubts: his struggle with his relationships with mother and girlfriend. I liked him. When he received his award I had tears. Yes I really did!

    So the message can make a small change like the unexpected Kennedy assassination prevention but can’t prevent the eco disaster in the current timeline, only in the future of the altered one? So it seems that the timeline is always altered from the moment any change occurs. Will Gordon resist the urge to tell Renfrew about the possible future plane crash? Will it matter anyhow?

    Finishing with the far future contacting 1998 giving the original timeline much needed hope, was a nice touch.

    It’s good to know that we are now 10 years past the novels future and our present isn’t as bad as his predictions and hopefully never will be. Yes, it seems that I’m an eternal optimist.

  56. Hey Joe!

    Firstly, I just want to thank you for the blog and, well, your hand in helping to prevent reality television from encroaching on every hour of TV viewing and, in doing so, preventing my brain from turning into a useless, sticky and gooey mess.

    I would, however, be lying if I said I’ve just found you blog, as in fact I’ve been lurking here for some time now- and it is awesome by the way- and this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to post, not only as a very grateful fan -seriously, I do mean awesome– but also as a concerned individual.

    If Marty does succeed in putting an Irish person put on the Atlantis team, can you promise me you will do everything in your power to not let him make it as painful to watch as ‘Heroes’ was when they had so-called “Irish” characters in it? Please? I trust you guys to pieces, really, but if I hear that same theatrically overdone and incomprehensible “accent” -I don’t know anyone over here who talks like that… except maybe after a pint too many- put on my favourite show… well, I cannot guarantee I will enjoy the episode/s as deeply and completely as I have every one before it.

    In fact, I may even be forced to use a frowny face in reference to it. 😐

    Assure me you’ll do your best?

    And thanks again.

  57. I enjoyed Timescape although it took a few chapters for me to feel the pull of the story. The hard science wasn’t too overwhelming; but the end was something I read more than once trying to understand.
    (Hopes she isn’t the only one lol).
    I borrowed a copy of “The Heart Of The Comet” by Benford and Brin to read next!

    Ps–Huge thanks to Joe for the BOTM, I find myself enjoying it almost as much as the blog.

  58. Ofaite je ne vous est pas dit? La semaine dérniére j’ai vu le générique de sg1 ou vous chantiez =D …mise a part que vous avez un voix trop sexy (^^) grâce a ce générique j’arrive enfin a me souvenir de l’ére du générique!! en 10 ans je n’y suis jamais arriver^^! N’empêche vous chantez trés bien.

    Bon je vais stopper ma “Josephomani” pour ce soir car sinon je sens que je ne vais dormir de la nuit.

    Grosss Bisou, Bonne nuit, a demain =) je vous adore♥

  59. Hey Joe,

    I’ve never been a real fan of time travel stories mostly because of the grandfather paradox. For me that seemed to always take away from the story because in the back of my mind I always thought, “if this guy succeeds in traveling back in time and changing the past then he would have never had to go to the past in the first place”. however that being said I felt the Timescape did a pretty good job handling the time traveling. By creating an alternate universe they did indeed put a stop the the possible paradoxes, but I feel it leaves the reader wanting more. We don’t know, the people we wanted to see succeed so that there lives will be changed. But in the universe they occupy nothing changes so they feel as if they have failed.

    Additionally, in creating an alternate universe Benford took away the need to send the smaller less informative messages. If by sending items through time would not create a paradox because it in turn creates an alternate universe then they really could have sent back all the information they needed to without worrying about creating a paradox. And some people might say oh, they couldn’t have sent back all the information because it would have created a paradox, at least in the view of the people sending the messages back, and wouldn’t have been sent. But what real harm would have come in sending all the information back in time just to see what would have happened.

    Complaints about time travel aside, I did find the book quite interesting and a good read. The back story about the characters and their families really added to the story and made me want them to succeed. I only wish there would have been more to the story, I would have liked to have seen more about the changed future and the additional messages Gordon had received. All that being said I really did enjoy reading the book.

  60. My view on Timescape:

    I’m still working on finishing it, as it is not a fast or easy read for me. I’d like to think of myself as somwhat advanced when it comes to reading but this put made me feel like an amature.

    I was pleasntly suprised to find Gordon’s girlfriend named Penny which threw me off a bit as not a lot of characters share my name.

    Loved the how vivid the characters seemed. I find that with many novels secondary characters get left by the wayside, such as Marjorie, Jan, Penny, Copper.

    I found almost all the science hard to follow prob just me. Most of the concepts were detailed, I get pardoxes, I get taychons and how they were used to tell the story, but I had to go back and re-read sections because I just couldn’t grasp what they were trying to convey.

    Over all (and without having read to the end yet) I enjoyed the book. I’m not sure if I would read any other books by Gregory Benford but that is in no way reflection of him as an author just my limited understanding of this theories.

    Great selection.

  61. woohhooo im finished my college case studies on personal training and sports therapy!!! theres 82000 words i want back!!!!!

    but the celebration is short lived as an Xray is my highlight of tomorrow..stupid martial arts injury….

    at the end on the Continum screening did you get to nab some of the fans that were lucky enough to see it?? what did they think??

  62. Hi Mr M!

    Greetings from …….NID Headquarters!

    Yes, am still in Vancouver and had a wonderful lunch at the NID. We dined at Vij’s last night (Monday) and waited for a table of 6 people for……. 2 minutes!! Yep, we hit the jackpot and seated us all almost immediately!
    Wonderful Indian Cuisine which was cooked in a traditional style (Lamb in masala…mmm…fab!)
    Very enjoyable Pilsner too…modest bill and most importantly… great Stargate conversations.

    Off to Don Francesco’s tonight, my last night here.

    Thanks again for the recommendations.


  63. on april 5th you wrote:
    Today’s pics: Hopefully the captioning feature worked so I won’t have to tell you.

    well i don’t see anything or is it only something wordpress members can see?

  64. I’m sorry to say that I could not complete Timescape. I made it to page 45 and was so utterly bored, I couldn’t make myself continue. Perhaps another day and time when I’m not struggling with a new job. 😳

    I wish everyone else joy of the book and happy reviewing!

  65. How about that KU-Memphis game! Goodness, talk about edge-of-your-seat match up. Allen Field House was absolutely crazy, especially after Chalmers got that once in a lifetime three-pointer. They’re saying 40,000+ people were partying downtown! That’s nearly half our city! What an awesome game. Psh, whoever said we couldn’t possibly win… sure, Memphis was great, but I didn’t exactly the spectacular moves that Memphis is famous for, or whatever their excuse was. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

  66. Lizzieanne Said:

    Finishing with the far future contacting 1998 giving the original timeline much needed hope, was a nice touch.

    Now I’m going to have to go back and reread the ending. Either I wasn’t really paying attention at that point, or else I misunderstood what I was reading, to not have clearly gotten the picture that an alternate timeline was created when JFK survived (since I’d thought that his survival changed the future in the original timeline). The alternate-timeline theory is much more intriguing, and adds a lot more drama to Greg Markham’s death in the plane crash – I wonder if he’d realized that an alternate timeline had been created by the message received by the past, and if he’d had an epiphany regarding how to deal with that problem. It was clear that he thought he’d gotten to the heart of some intensely crucial matter.

  67. Hi Joe,
    Still here! Haven’t left any comments in a long time so I thought I would drop one to say Hi! Still reading your blog every day and I am enjoying it very much! Loved the fact that you and Martin Gero had dinner with some fans – that is so awesome of the both of you! How is season 5 coming along? Any news from Scifi or MGM about a season 6? What are the final thoughts about the viewing numbers on season 4?

  68. Hi there Mr Mallozzi. I have a simple question for you. I’m wondering if there will be more episodes about the crew meeting the ancients like in The Return or Before I Sleep. I hope to see a response! Thanks!

  69. It’s great to read everyone’s interpretations of the book. When reading these books after BOTM discussions you have these voices from people on the blog pop into your head – they just have to squeeeeeze on in next to those other voices.

    Chev said: “You’ve gotta go the lenticular cover. The tin will just sit on the shelf but if you get bored you could sit with the cover moving it back and forth and back and forth and….. Trippy!”

    Next time you find yourself in a position where turning a DVD cover back and forth is the BEST option on your list, you call me ok. We can get you through this. Although I’ll probably sit down next to you to talk about it and next thing you know, “Whoa, you’re right, this IS fun”

    The problem with the tin is that it won’t stay on the shelf. I have no doubt that within a week I will find it in the garage, full of screws and a husband looking at me with his best “What? You weren’t using it” expression.

    Nothing is sacred.

  70. Hey there Joe!

    I’d like to ask a question about yesterday’s pics. I was wondering if Martin Wood was wearing shorts to the premiere!?

    Every time I see him in the SGA DVDs on some director’s thing or another, he’s always in shorts! Just curious……

    Glad to hear LuLu is doing better!

  71. Curious… as an English teacher, I wonder who was behind the Jack grammar corrections, most notably the “who” vs. “whom” argument. Writer(s), producer, Richard? Please! I’m dying!

  72. Hi joe;
    Could you, would you throw me a bone and tell me what you have in mind for sheppard in season 5, meaning have any outlines or plots for stories that you might share? Also would you please tell me what myself and other fan’s like me could do to help ensure a season 6? I loved SG-1 but I never want to miss an episode of Atlantis and would be very upset if it was canceled. Is there an address or email or something for fans to let MGM and SciFi know we want more seasons? I always thought by turning the show on while it airs live that was how you aquired the ratings, but now I’m wondering how do you get the ratings? Is it through neilson scores, from signals, or??? Thanks a bunch, Nicole.

  73. Narelle from Aus Said:

    The problem with the tin is that it won’t stay on the shelf. I have no doubt that within a week I will find it in the garage, full of screws and a husband looking at me with his best “What? You weren’t using it” expression.

    I’m really not sure how these rules are set, but Rule #1 regarding empty tins seems to be that all of them wind up in the garage, holding all manner of screws and whatnot that will still be kept even after they’ve become obsolete. In fact, Rule #1 seems to cover anything that’s empty. Liberating one’s own empty containers by dumping everything into one large receptacle seems to cause problems. My best option so far has been to find just how many hiding places can stay hidden. To date, that approach has worked well.

    Nothing is sacred.

    All too true; good thing the principle works both ways.

  74. Hello Joe,

    I’m so glad Lulu is doing well and enjoying her new toy! Thanks again for meeting us at Fuel for Dinner April 3rd. It was very nice of you and Marty. Also, please tell Marty that I’m with him… gotta lose this last 30 pounds. While I’ve lost 37 so far, I still have much more to go! We can compare next year’s pictures to the ones we took this year. Double chins be gone… so let be written…so let it be done!

    Thanks again! You guys are the best!


  75. Dear Joe,

    I just went to a very nice restaurant in Montreal that u should check out when u get back its called Au Pois Pencher, a frenchy Bistro on De Maisonneuve corner Drummond. Its a bit pricey but worth it.
    I just have two little question if you please,
    1. will you revisit any season 1 and 2 episodes in season 5 like for example The Brotherhood or Condemned.
    2. Any plans of introducing a replacement Earth ship design for the Daedalus class battleships…. like a BC-305 in season 5.

    Thanxs a bunch and GO HABS

  76. I hated Timescape when I read it way back when it came out… only stuck through it because it had been recommended to me for some reason I forget and I always have some Pollyanna hope that I’ll see what the person recommending it to me did. As it was one of the very few science fiction books that I had such a strong negative reaction too, I couldn’t bear to reread it again for your club, so sorry, I can’t give you details on why I disliked it so much. But it was a big surprise to me when you chose that as a book to read.

  77. Hello!!!! Just finally got back home after the con and my apologies for not having finished Timescape in enough time to chime in! Had it on the plane and fell asleep. =D

    Thank you for recommending Fuel, Joe. It not only met my expectations, it exceeded them. Our table (AG’s table of 9) went with the 5-course tasting menu and we were blown away. Hard to say which was the fave, but the pork loin & sweet sausage melted in in my mouth. And the potato soup was amazing.

    In addition, I do want to say a sincere thanks to you & Martin again. I saw Martin on Saturday at the set tours, but have not had a chance to follow up with you and let you know that it truly does mean alot to fans that you take such personal time — and at a restaurant that is one of your favorites, no less! — with them.

    I enjoyed finally being able to introduce ourselves (and the site) to you and although bummed I forgot my Oakland Raiders jacket, will send a pic soon!

    Thanks again and I will have to catch up on the BOTMC next month!!

    Jenny S./jstiven
    P.S. Thanks for the pic of myself and Kamala — we loved it! We have several of you and I will send the link as soon as I get some sleep.

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