Study Guide

Timescape Chapter 1

By Gregory Benford

Chapter 1

Spring, 1998

  • Sitting at the breakfast table with his family, John Renfrew reminds himself to smile a lot since it's a sign of good will—even if he never could master the art.
  • His son, Johnny, tells his father about a contest at school to write the best paper. The topic is how to fix the mess the environment is in, and he wants his dad to look over his entry.
  • Renfrew says he'll get to it tonight.
  • After breakfast, he bikes to the University of Cambridge, noticing that more squatters have come to squat in the area.
  • At the Cav—short for the Cavendish Laboratory—Renfrew meets Ian Peterson, a member of the World Council.
  • Renfrew shows his tachyon apparatus to Peterson; it's super-techno babble heavy.
  • He explains the major problem with sending a message back in time is the fact that no one in the past will have a receiver to pick up the message.
  • Renfrew adds that the trick was borrowing the indium being used in a 1963 experiment; that way their message will interfere with something someone is already looking at.
  • The other trick is having to calculate where in spacetime the Earth was in 1963 and targeting that spot with the high-velocity tachyon message. You know—calculations and such.
  • Peterson reveals that he is here because the World Council is looking for an emergency measure. Renfrew says they'll need a new generation of equipment from the Americans.
  • Both men go to have a cup of coffee while they wait for a fellow named Markham, who might be able to swing the new equipment for them.