This is mainly a book about
paleontology, dinosaurs, time travel and the paradoxes of time travel. It
begins with a paleontologist working at the Smithsonian Institute being offered
an opportunity to be part of a secretive project. The irresistible inducement
to join is a freshly severed dinosaur head in an ice chest.
Somehow, time travel has
become available (controlled by the Pentagon) and various research stations
have been set up in the distant past during the tens of millions of years
dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Towards the beginning of the book, a central
character notes that paleontology has never been a top budget item, and asks
why such big bucks are available now. He's told not to look a gift horse in
the mouth. Towards the end of the book we're given what might be an
explanation of sorts, but perhaps not so compelling. Nobody seems to ask what
the Pentagon might be doing with time travel other than dinosaur studies.
At a certain point, one of
the paleontologists breaks the secrecy and makes time travel public knowledge.
After that, creationists begin plotting to discredit what they consider false
evidence inconsistent with the Bible. One group seeks to disrupt the work of
A group of paleontologists
(actually mostly grad students) gets stranded in time 65 million years ago.
They get to do extensive research and speculation while learning to live
without much modern technology.
Around these pivotal points,
the story hops around to different eons, paleontological meetings, the
activities of those running the research project, etc. There are some
interesting ideas here. Speculation on why all the [non-avian] dinosaurs went
extinct so abruptly. A peek at the far future. How creationists might respond
to direct scientific study of the distant past. A bit about the paradoxes of
But on the whole, to me, it
feels more like one of those "novels" that is a patchwork of short
stories. Perhaps there is nothing absolutely missing, but I didn't find it a
satisfyingly complete and well-concluded novel.
Take the following with a
grain of salt - I tend to believe the paradoxes of time travel are
insurmountable. In most of the book there is talk of concern about avoiding time
paradoxes, but the book ends up including numerous cases of what the book
initially tells us are unacceptable situations. No, nobody kills their
grandfather. Eventually, we're given what I assume was intended as a "big
fix" for these issues, but it didn't work for me.
Reviews of this book have
been mixed. Not that I know of any that said it was awful. I think everyone
agrees it has interesting aspects. But it looks like it's a matter of taste
and other personal inclinations.