Study Guide

Timescape Truth

By Gregory Benford


We've been told the truth is out there, and Timescape seems to agree. This book suggests an absolute truth exists, but it also questions whether people can ever reach it. From our limited perspective of the universe, how can we say anything we discover is undoubtedly true? What if it proves only to be true for us? Good questions.

These questions plague the scientist characters in the novel, but the search for truth extends beyond the lab. Gordon has a difficult time pinning down the truth about Penny's personality because the Penny he sees now and the Penny he sees later seem to be two different people. How can they both be the same person? How can they both be true? As you can probably guess by the abundance of question marks here, this theme is more about asking questions than getting answers.

Questions About Truth

  1. Does the novel provide an absolute truth? That is, a truth that we know to be true regardless of the where or when of the observer? If yes, what is that truth, and how do you see it fitting within this theme? If not, then why do you suppose the novel chooses this tactic regarding truth?
  2. Are there any instances in the novel where discovering the truth leads to a negative outcome? If so, where, and how does this instance complicate the theme of truth? If not, why do you think the novel sidesteps this issue of the truth?
  3. Pick one of the other Timescape themes. How do you see the theme of truth interacting with this theme? Does truth enhance, complicate, or seem absent from your chosen theme?

Chew on This

Timescape promotes science as an important cornerstone in the idea of truth because it can be tested.

You've heard that life imitates art, but in Timescape, science shapes life. Our understanding of the universe changes with each scientific discovery, and as such, so does our concept of truth.