The world is dying and some some scientists make a literal last ditch effort to send a message back in time in an attempt to avert the present day ecological crisis. We follow both the present day scientists in their attempts to save the world, and the scientists in the past as they try to decode the strange interference that seems to be coming from nowhere.
I had such good luck reading classic sf in 2020, but in 2021 and now 2022 my choices have sort of crashed and burned. Maybe I just need to read more Clifford D. Simak and skip the rest? Nah, I do want to try out all the classic authors. But seriously, this book flopped for me. The science aspects of it were all right, but those were few and far between in comparison to the attempts Benford made at writing what I can only assume was lit-er-a-ture (hold your pinky in the air whilst drinking tea to get the full affect there). Those parts of the book were so incredibly dull, and I thought, utterly pointless. They were also dated as hell.
The book was split into two timelines, one in 1962, the other in 1998, but the book was actually written in 1979, and the 1998 sections made that very clear. All the domestic scenes between the scientists and their partners were mind-numbing. For taking place in such interesting times, most of this book was uninteresting. Occasionally they would start on the science again in a way that intrigued me, but for the most part, I found this book largely just okay.
The ending, about the last fifty pages or so, was really the best part of the whole thing. I didn’t see the resolution coming. SPOILERS The whole book I had been grumbling to myself about parallel universes and the multiverse making the whole endeavor pointless, but then the book ends with the 1962-3 timeline being “saved” and branching off into another universe, and the 1998 scientists and everyone in that timeline, essentially knowing that they are still doomed. I found this interesting! Mostly because it genuinely surprised me END SPOILERS.
Probably won’t be reading from Gregory Benford again. On to the next.
[2.5 stars, rounded up because of the ending, and the premise]