King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat

Bones of the Earth, Michael Swanwick

The third book I read in New Zealand is a time-travel book by Michael Swanwick. This is the first time I've ever read a novel by Swanwick, though I might have read a short story or two from his pen. The story is a little bit hard SF and a little bit SF farce. The plot is basically this, what if someone in the future invented time travel, then brought the technology back to the human race of the early 21st century. While most time travel novels spend a lot of time avoiding causality issues, Swanwick's Bones of the Earth revels in the contradictions inherent in the idea. The main characters bounce around in time so much that they simply leave memos for their other selves to pick up to carry out actions in the past or future.

Paleontology becomes the centerpiece of the story. The project for which time travel is used is a series of camps scattered throughout the timeline of the dinosaurs. Except there is a saboteur in the midst of the project. The saboteur strands a group in the Jurassic era. No problem, by the standards of the book, and plenty of time to figure out what to do. Because you can manipulate time at will almost, simply go back in time 10 minutes after they are stranded. You have all the world in time to set it up. Or simply go back in time to ten minutes before the sabotage, and prevent it from happening.

It's a lovely concept, and Swanwick runs amok with it because he doesn't care about the contradictions. He's messing with the subgenre of time travel.

This is one of the few books I've read recently that had a crappy plot (outside the time travel contradictions) and only average character development that I still liked. Simply because he messes with the time travel idiom so well.

Tags: books

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