Study Guide

Timescape Family

By Gregory Benford


Timescape presents scientists as they really are, and this means looking at life outside the laboratory. Popular imagination might view scientists as eating, breathing, and sleeping in their labs, but the truth is that scientists science as a job, and when the day is done, they return home to their families.

But what happens when discovering scientific truth starts to interfere with the responsibilities of the family? Renfrew and Gordon both suffer this dilemma as they balance (or fail to balance) their obligations to their work and the people they love. Ultimately, the novel doesn't provide an easy solution, and both men find different answers.

Questions About Family

  1. Compare and contrast the family problems of Renfrew and Gordon. How are they the same? What differences do you see? Does this comparison provide any insights into the theme of family? What are they?
  2. What character do you think is the most family-centered in Timescape? Why? What does this tell you about the theme of family?
  3. Now which character do you think is the least family-centered and why? Comparing this character with the one above, and discuss what this comparison tells you about the theme of family.

Chew on This

Family is a deterrent to scientific success in the novel. The characters that prosper are those who sacrifice their family lives to their scientific work.

The novel views the responsibility of family as belonging to women. Unlike their male counterparts, no prominent female character can maintain a family and a profession at the same time.