Study Guide

Timescape Chapter 9

By Gregory Benford

Chapter 9


  • Renfrew stews in his office because Peterson is ten minutes late.
  • Markham tries to calm him down by explaining that Peterson is an administrator, and as such, his worries and problems are those of administration, not science.
  • Peterson arrives and asks to start right away.
  • Renfrew begins sending back a message in simple Morse code, but noise level increases, making it impossible to continue.
  • While Renfrew attempts to scrounge up the necessary equipment to troubleshoot the problem, Peterson takes a phone call and returns saying he has to leave as something has come up.
  • Markham and he agree to meet at midday for lunch at the Whim.
  • Fast-forward to midday, and the two meet up at—you guessed it—the Whim. There, college students are celebrating the end of the academic year with rounds of beer and pig Latin.
  • Peterson and Markham peruse the menu and discuss politics.
  • Suddenly, a woman screams that her stomach hurts before she vomits, convulses, and falls to the ground. Peterson shouts for someone to call a doctor.
  • After the ambulance leaves, both Peterson and Markham decide to not have whatever she ate. Peterson berates the waiter to tell the manager to watch his raw materials, then he asks Markham how they plan to get around this whole time paradox business.
  • The two talk back and forth on the issue with many an analogy to be had. The gist of Markham's answer is that one should think of time not as a straight line but a loop.
  • As he puts it, ''So you can change the past, but only if you don't try to make a paradox. If you try, the experiment hangs up in that stuck-in-between state'' (9.199). Ah, yes…
  • The two leave the Whim and end up at a bookstore.
  • Peterson successfully hits on a girl there but forgets to ask for her name. Smooth.