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Hawksbill Station

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  728 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
In the mid-21st century, time travel is used to send political prisoners to Hawksbill Station, a prison camp in the late Cambrian Era. When the latest arrival suspiciously deflects questions about his crimes and knowledge of 'Up Front', the inmates decide to find out his secret. NOTE: a novella length version of this story is also available.
Paperback, 185 pages
Published May 1st 1978 by Berkley (NYC) (first published 1967)
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Jul 04, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it
Hawksbill Station was Robert Silverberg’s most Kilgore Troutian concept.

Kilgore Trout was, of course, the recurring fictitious science fiction writer from Kurt Vonnegut’s canon, based loosely upon fellow writer Theodore Sturgeon. According to Vonnegut, Trout would come up with wild ideas, one after another, in a prolific if not profitable career.

Silverberg, also a prolific but happily profitable writer, describes in Hawksbill Station, first published in 1967, a situation where political prisoner
5.0 stars. I have said this before but Robert Silverberg is one of those writers that has never disappointed me and this story is certainly no exception. One of the things that is so impressive about Silverberg is that, other than the Majipoor series, he almost always does stand alone stories and so his stories are always a unique experience. The breadth of his stories are amazing.

This short novel (really a long novella) is about a group of political prisoners from a future United States that ha
Megan Baxter
Apr 10, 2015 Megan Baxter rated it liked it
Look at the covers above. They may not tell you everything about the book, but if the Sad Puppies narrative is to be believed, they'll be a straightforward adventure yarn, instead of harbouring something more subversive. You hear that, Silverberg? You guys didn't write anything more complex than that, right?

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire
Feb 03, 2014 Sandy rated it it was amazing
Although it had been over 45 years since I initially read Robert Silverberg's novella "Hawksbill Station," several scenes were as fresh in my memory as if I had read them just yesterday; such is the power and the vividness of this oft-anthologized classic. Originally appearing in the August '67 issue of "Galaxy" magazine, the novella did not come to my teenaged attention till the following year, when it was reprinted in a collection entitled "World's Best Science Fiction 1968." Silverberg later ...more
Jun 04, 2012 Dorothea rated it it was ok
(content note: this review and its subject mention sexual violence.)

I read the novella version of this story, which is available online here.

The premise is that time travel has been discovered, but it only works one way. A totalitarian government creates the camp for political prisoners, Hawksbill Station, that is the setting of this story: the late Cambrian period, when dry land is nothing but bare rock and all life on Earth is marine invertebrates. At this period, there's nothing the prisoners
Dan Quigley
Nov 09, 2015 Dan Quigley rated it it was amazing
This was a great book. I am surprised to learn it is an expansion from a novella because the parts that were added fit in seamlessly. I couldn't begin to guess what was novella and what was only to be found in the novel.

A book that is now almost fifty years old should be dated. In one respect it is. The Soviet branches of Marxism mentioned in the book are something I can't imagine even being of historical interest any more. No one these days debates them or takes them as a serious foundation upo
Jan 19, 2010 Bryan rated it liked it
Shelves: ebooks, sf
This short novel started out strong, but never was able to maintain its initial promise. Silverberg is a wonderful writer, and I love how his worlds seem so vast and well-developed, and this book is no exception.

Time travel is a common SF item, so writers strive to develop their own unique system. Silverberg achieves that here (view spoiler).

I was expecting thi
Charles Dee Mitchell
May 06, 2012 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it liked it
Shelves: mid-century-sf
This is one of the slighter Silverberg novels I have read, but like all his novels I have read it is entertaining.

In the 21st century, the U.S. has cancelled the constitution and now runs as a syndicalist government. (What exactly is a syndicalist government and why has no GOP candidate accused our sitting president of being a Muslim Syndicalist? It sounds sufficiently damning.) In Silverberg's novel Syndicalism means no more president, no more congress, just commissioners of this and that and a
Roddy Williams
This is an expansion of an earlier novella, but is nevertheless still a fairly short novel.
The basic premise is that a time-portal to the past has been established. As there is no possibility of return, the US Powers That Be have set up two points in the remote past, one in the late Cambrian Era and the other some 250 million years later. As there is no other use for such a thing, the government have decided to send political prisoners back through time along with the materials to build their ow
Dec 21, 2013 Jim rated it liked it
What I’ve read of Robert Silverberg prior to this—not much I admit—I’ve enjoyed; his novel A Time of Changes and his novella Born with the Dead are long-standing favourites. Why I’ve not read more by him I can’t answer. I simply never got round to it. The premise of this one appealed and now I’ve finished it I can say that it was a perfectly decent story but that’s where my problem with it lies; it’s a story and not a novel, not even a short one. I know it started off life as a short story and i ...more
Dustin Wallace
Jun 21, 2012 Dustin Wallace rated it really liked it
This was a very strange read. Not to say bad, by any means, but it was a very different story. Silverberg has an amazing ability to really set the mood, and his writing sticks with you well after reading. It's about a colony of fugitives set at some point in the Paleozoic Era. Advanced civilization had learned the secret of time travel, but only one way. As such, it's major use was in the disposal of their most heinous criminals in a camp created to be their "Death Row", I suppose. Silverberg re ...more
David B
Mar 20, 2016 David B rated it liked it
Political prisoners are sentenced to exile in a paleozoic gulag one billion years in the past, before the appearance of the first land-dwelling lifeforms. The story alternates between the exiles in the past, aging and battling mental illness brought on by their isolation, and the activities that resulted in their sentences. The primary character, Jim Barrett, struggles to maintain his deteriorating community while investigating the puzzle of a new prisoner who is unlike any of the others. The en ...more
Jun 23, 2015 Adrik rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Toda a parte de sci-fi aqui é um mero pretexto pra uma premissa bastante simples.
O lugar q era uma prisão pro protagonista depois de décadas se torna o seu lar e ele não quer mais sair de lá.
Assim como a colonia penal era no Cambriano, poderia ter sido em outro planeta, ou numa ilha, ou no deserto, q não faria a menor diferença.
O texto é bem executado, mas faltou totalmente uma dimensão épica, cósmica.
Mar 16, 2017 Tate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
First things first, this book is deeply misogynistic, and that in part affected my reading of it. While Silverberg is undoubtedly a gifted writer, I wasn't blown away by this novel. It had great things to say even thought it struggled to say them at points. Some things happened too easily, while others never grew to fruition. I love how politically bent it is, and it's a clear love song to Orwell's 1984.
Max Ampuero
Feb 20, 2017 Max Ampuero rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ciencia-ficcion
Un libro bastante querible, le hace gala a la época en fue escrito, sin ahondar en grandes despliegues técnicos logra una narración atractiva enmarcada por una historia casi policial con la cual es difícil dejar de leer la siguiente pagina. La historia de los personajes se va construyendo a partir de flashbacks que son detonados en el momento justo para descubrir las razones de ser de cada personaje. A pesar de estar en rodeada de elementos de ciencia ficción es una novela de personajes y como s ...more
Oct 12, 2014 Dave rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
As I mentioned in an earlier review of a book in tribute to Robert Silverberg, I realized that it was time to catch up on some of his earlier works that I had missed. This is the first in that effort. Written in the late 60s, I was pleased to see that, for the most part, it holds up very well. The language isn't archaic, there's only one reference to women that might not be quite as politically correct now, and - the most important part - it's a good story.

In the near future (actually about now)
Marc Goldstein
Feb 04, 2013 Marc Goldstein rated it liked it
A group of political dissidents are exiled via a time machine into the distant Cambrian past. There they hunt crafty trilobites and slowly lose their grip on reality. The de facto leader of the group was a rebel cell leader in the future. He knew Edmund Hawksbill, the man who invented the time machine. An old friend who had introduced the leader into the rebel movement, and later defected, betrayed the leader to the police. The old friend harbored bitterness because the leader stole a girl away ...more
Feb 25, 2010 Raj rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This was a fairly enjoyable story about a group of political activists who were considered so dangerous by their government that there were exiled to the far past and left to survive or not. While I don't know enough about the geology of the world ~2 billion years ago to know if there was an oxygen atmosphere yet or whether survival at this era was remotely possible, the story itself was pretty engaging, although it did have Silverberg's usual problem with women. The only female character was on ...more
Zantaeus Glom
Jul 23, 2013 Zantaeus Glom rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, sf
Brisk read from the mighty pen of iconoclastic sf writer Robert Silverberg. I was engaged right from its especially bleak opening gambit, and read through with great alacrity to the end. I don't know where this stands in the mighty canon of Siverberg, but 'Hawksbill Station' certainly held my interest from cover to cover, and I felt a deep pathos at the ignominious travails of all these ragged, soul-broken counter-revolutionaries who had been so cruelly banished to a crude and meager existence o ...more
Guillermo Jiménez
En un artículo incluido en el periódico universitario de la UANL, alguien (no recuerdo ni quiero recordar quien) hacía una conexión entre el mundo creado por los Washowski en 'Matrix' y el otro expuesto en esta novela. Honestamente no encontré ese link por ningún lado.

Al menos no directamente, tal vez, si aplicamos una súper interpretación de lo que critica Silverberg en esta obra y lo que los Washowski señalan (la represión del poder, el concepto de cárcel, etc) bien podríamos estar de acuerdo
May 19, 2011 Claudio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ciencia-ficción
Un estado totalitario se ha hecho con una máquina del tiempo que, al igual que la de terminator, sólo da un viaje de ida hacia el pasado. Así los burócratas de turno tienen la genial idea de utilizarla para enviar a los disidentes políticos al período cámbrico, en una especie de carcel de alta seguridad de tamaño planetario y sin barreras... excepto las del tiempo. Porque hablar de comunismo a los trilobites no causará una revolución.

La llegada de un extraño personaje hace que el protagonista co
May 25, 2014 Steef rated it really liked it
Shelves: english, sci-fi
I had no expectations of this book (not good nor bad) when I started reading it, so was pleasantly surprised by it. Loved it, in fact.

The only reason I am giving this a 4-star rating instead of 5 is that I thought the story set in the far past could be a little fleshed out (like the story about the revolutionary post-1984 movement). I don't think more should have happened there, but the feeling of total boredom and possibly apathy of being trapped in a world that has little in it, for decennia,
Sep 23, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, read-in-2011
I've got a shelf of these 60's era sci-fi novels, they all seem to be about the same length, about 170 - 190 pages. They often seem to be somewhat truncated, as if entire chapters were removed by editors to fit into a predetermined book length. Makes me wonder if the publisher had some kind of rule about the length of their books. Maybe they did a cost benefit analysis showing that the potential sales did not outweigh the cost of printing longer books. This one is no different, just about all lo ...more
Erik Graff
Oct 17, 2008 Erik Graff rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Silverberg fans
Recommended to Erik by: Thomas Miley
Shelves: sf
After one year living alone in an apartment on Morse near Ashland, Michael and Thomas Miley invited me to move into their apartment at 1634 W. Chase, also in East Rogers Park, Chicago. Their roommate, another old high school friend, Tom Kosinski, having earned a grubstake working for the Tollway Authority, was leaving to live in a cottage in rural France.

I hated my place and was happy to accept the invitation as I'd been visiting the three of them as often as they'd allow for months, their place
David Bonesteel
Jun 14, 2013 David Bonesteel rated it really liked it
Political prisoners are sentenced to exile one billion years in the past, before the appearance of the first land-dwelling lifeforms. The story alternates between the exiles in the past, aging and battling mental illness brought on by their isolation, and the activities that resulted in their sentences. The primary character, Jim Barrett, struggles to maintain his deteriorating community while investigating the puzzle of a new prisoner who is unlike any of the others. The end is a bit unsatisfyi ...more
Nov 10, 2016 Stuart rated it really liked it
Time travel fiction is nearly always an excuse for showcasing the author's meticulous research. Mr. Silverberg differs from most time travel authors in that he doesn't just research settings, he delves deeply into the human psyche, sociology and politics.

Hawksbill Station is a short little gem that displays an admirable understanding of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary politics, the nature and psychology of exile, human coping, and precambrian geology, biology and climate.

Terse and mascul
Jan 25, 2016 Steven rated it it was amazing
An excellent time-travel novella. Robert Silverberg's work is both a commentary on political movements and a story of human oppression and survival.

Political prisoners are sent back a billion years in time, and forced to fish for trilobites and eat seaweed salads. Their leader at Hawksbill Station is Barrett, who is a very real and sympathetic character, who tries to keep the prisoners from going insane and suicidal as he thinks about his life (told in flashbacks). Things start to change when Ha
Mar 22, 2012 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Silverberg, in my opinion, is one of the best sci-fi authors from the 60's and 70's. I have read several of his novels and am never disappointed in them. This one was no exception. The concept of sending political prisoners back in time a billion years to the Cambrian age before any life had evolved on land was very interesting and evoked a Russian Gulag or a futuristic Guantanamo Bay! The politics got a little tedious and probably read better when this book was first written in the 60s. However ...more
Benjamín Román Abram
I think that fails to make a round novel, although a prison in the past is well told (even if he wanted to know the true environment of that time and is not an excuse), not so with the present, that he pretended to be a new 1984 without success.

Yo pienso que no llega hacer una novela redonda, si bien una cárcel en el pasado está bien narrado ( aunque hubiese querido saber del verdadero entorno de ese tiempo y que no sea una mera excusa), no sucede lo mismo con el tiempo presente, que pretendió s
David Haverstick
The first 2/3 of the book are better than the last 1/3. So much potential, Silverberg could have gone several ways with the plot line. The way he went is entirely plausible, given the scenario. My big gripe is that it seems everything gets wrapped up in about 5 pages in the final chapter. There is a lot more that could have been done to make the ending less anti-climatic. (Not giving any suggestions because they could act like spoilers).
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Robert Silverberg is one of science fiction’s most beloved writers, and the author of such contemporary classics as Dying Inside, Downward to the Earth and Lord Valentine’s Castle, as well as At Winter’s End, also available in a Bison Books edition. He is a past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the winner of five Nebula Awards and five Hugo Awards. In 2004 the Sc ...more
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