Brendan's Reviews > Bones of the Earth

Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick
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's review
May 08, 11

bookshelves: 2011, adventure-thriller, evolution, fiction, scifi, science
Read from May 03 to 08, 2011

What would happen if we discovered time travel and gave it only to paleontologists to use to study dinosaurs? This book explores that question quite thoroughly. Here are some of its answers:

* Creationists would get all in a tizzy and try to sabotage the work. This doesn’t seem beyond the pale to me, but it does remind me of the sequence in Towing Jehovah when some atheists conspire to bomb (and sink) God’s body so as to prevent the worldwide conversion of humanity. Both attempts seem stupid to me, but I’ve always been someone who preferred pursuing truth to preserving belief.
* Some people would try to disrupt causality and would be caught by police who knew they were going to try to disrupt causality because they sent themselves after action reports of who had tried to do things. They told themselves about their own “yet,” for those of you who know the Continuum universe.
* The paleontological community would have to keep all their discoveries a secret until the secret of time travel became public knowledge. After that, they were rock stars who could get big book deals by bringing back photos.
* It would turn out we were right about some things and very wrong about others, dinosaurily speaking. Having had my own education in dino-knowledge stopped right around the time I saw Jurassic Park, I would find all the info in this book fascinating, and not know how much is scientific speculation and how much has survived the rigor of long-term debate.
* I kept waiting for the Timeline trick where one of the archaeologists could leave a clue among known fossils. This would be much harder to do over millions of years than over a couple hundred, admittedly.

All in all, it’s a good book. The Bones of the Earth doesn’t spend enough time on the time-travel stuff for my taste, but it’s pretty great anyhow.

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