Dave's Reviews > Before the Dawn

Before the Dawn by Eric Temple Bell
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Jan 05, 09

bookshelves: fiction, speculative-fiction, arkham
Read in April, 2004

Before the Dawn by Eric Temple Bell (using the pseudonym John Taine), was published originally in 1934. In 1949, it appeared on August Derleth's Arkham Survey of `Basic SF Titles', tied for 13th. Time has not been very kind to this book, and it remains largely unnoticed today.
The story centers on an invention that allows people to view history by extracting the light which was absorbed by stones throughout history. In using the time viewer, the characters in the book watch the extinction of the dinosaurs, and in particular they follow one dinosaur which they name Belshazzar, who is a massive flesh eater.

The reasons this book is not mentioned with the greats today are clear; the science part of the book doesn't really make much sense, nor would it have even when the book was written. Likewise science has shown that the species of dinosaurs that interact in this story, almost certainly were not alive during the same periods of time. On the positive side, this is perhaps the first science fiction story to use the concept of a time viewer. Also, the story itself is fairly well written, and is enjoyable to read.
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