Study Guide

Timescape Politics

By Gregory Benford


When you think anti-science, you probably think of endeavors like magic and alchemy. But in Timescape, the anti-scientific force is politics. Politicians make shortsighted decisions based on limited information, and while this might fix the problems of the here and now, it does nothing to deepen our understanding of the world and benefit the future.

In the same way, scientists (ahem, Lakin) who go too far into the political games of the scientific community tend to forget what the scientific method looks like, instead bending the results of experiments to benefit their agendas rather than benefit the world's understanding.

Questions About Politics

  1. In Timescape, do you see science shaping politics or visa versa? Why do you think this is? (Alternatively, you can pick a middle-ground approach saying they impress upon each other equally or not at all.)
  2. What is the novel trying to say about politics by focusing on world politics alongside the politics of a small university in California?
  3. Which character would you say is the least political in the novel? Who is it, and why do you think they aren't political? How does his or her response to politics help advance the theme of politics?

Chew on This

Ian Peterson is the perfect politician based on political landscape according to Timescape. And no, that is not a compliment.

Gordon manages to overcome the politics of his day to make an important scientific discovery, but please note that none of the political characters are really poorer for their efforts. Saul becomes a TV icon, Lakin receives some acclaim for "spontaneous resonance," and Peterson is arguably the only character to survive 1998.