Cover image for Timeline
Crichton, Michael, 1942-2008.
First trade edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 449 pages, 1 unnumbered page ; 25 cm
A Yale history professor travels back in time to 15th century France and gets stuck, unable to return to the present. His colleagues organize a rescue and on landing in France become involved in the Hundred Years War.
Reading Level:
620 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.2 21.0 34817.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.9 29 Quiz: 22044 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Concord Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
East Aurora Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Grand Island Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Frank E. Merriweather Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Williamsville Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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.

Author Notes

John Michael Crichton, known as Michael Crichton, was born on October 28, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. He wrote novels while attending Harvard University and Harvard Medical School to help pay the tuition. One of these, The Andromeda Strain, which was published in 1969, became a bestseller. After graduating summa cum laude, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute in California before becoming a full-time writer and film director.

His carefully researched novels included Eaters of the Dead, The Terminal Man, The Great Train Robbery, Congo, Sphere, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Disclosure, The Lost World, Airframe, and Micro. He also wrote non-fiction works including Five Patients: The Hospital Explained, Jasper Johns, and Travels. In the late 1960s, he also wrote under the pen names Jeffrey Hudson and John Lange. He has received several awards including Writer of the Year in 1970 from the Association of American Medical Writers and two Edgar Awards in 1968 and in 1979.

Many of his novels have been made into highly successful films, six of which he directed. He was also the creator and executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning television series ER. In addition to his writing and directorial success, his expertise in information science enabled him to run a software company and develop a computer game. He died of cancer on November 4, 2008 at the age of 66.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Two unreviewed blockbusters. No galley was submitted for the Steel; the one for Crichton was received late, accompanied by an embargo notice. Well, at least King's publisher hasn't taken to diversionary tactics. Yet. --Bonnie Smothers

Publisher's Weekly Review

"And the Oscar for Best Special Effects goes to: Timeline!" Figure maybe three years before those words are spoken, for Crichton's new novelÄdespite media reports about trouble in selling film rights, which finally went to ParamountÄis 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. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. 1,500,000 first printing; Literary Guild nain selection; simultaneous large-print edition and audiobook. (Nov. 16) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

No word yet on the plot, but the first printing is 1.5 million copies. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Combining time travel, archaeological exploration, and a power struggle in medieval France, this action-packed story will grab teens' attention from the very first page. ITC, a company located in the New Mexico desert, is at the forefront of the new science of quantum technology. It has secretly developed a means of transporting humans back in time. In the Dordogne region of southwest France, a team of company-sponsored archaeologists and historians is unearthing the remains of a medieval castle, village, and monastery with the goal of developing a major tourist attraction. The words "HELP ME" followed by "4/7/1357" written in ink and on paper used in the 14th century are found at the site. It seems that Professor Johnston, the team leader, demanded that he be transported back to the settlement, and obviously he is in danger there. A rescue effort is launched, and five people are transported back to April 1357: two escorts from ITC and three historians from the Dordogne project. Their time machine allows them 37 hours for the rescue, but within minutes of their arrival, the escorts are killed by a band of horsemen. The three survivors set out to find the missing man, and their race against time results in a gripping tale. YAs will be fascinated by this juxtaposition of modern-day physics with details of a medieval siege.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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." Excerpted from Timeline by Michael Crichton All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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