Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick


Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” meets Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”, yup dinosaurs and time travel paradoxes. It was more than enough for picking the book up, though not so much to keep me reading once the lure went off. And for the intro, “Scherzo with Tyrannosaur”, the short it’s based on, is a more fitting read than the novel.

I think Swanwick might have been a huge Jurassic nerd or something, with a lone bullied childhood and stuff. It could explain him creating this group of dinosaur obsessed paleontologists to geek out on extinct species, continent drifts, evolution and the possibility of testing out all hypothesis postulated so far with time travel. Though I was already sold with the plot, majority of the nerd talks had me struggling to get a hold on. Then again I was in constant expectation of something – to have my mind blown, thanks to the terrific short this novel was based on.

It was annoying to see future people teasing their past heroes for the deeds they are gonna do, or themselves for that matter, like starship crew fangirling the first contact doctor guy in Star Trek. And for a technology this awesome, for no reason whatsoever, Paleontology is the most benefited branch of science, which kind of meddle with causality. With outposts at various time periods and scientists recruited over a span before and after the availability of time travel, this usually patronized research field is at its golden age.

Yet, this book takes time travel seriously, keeping divergent timelines in one common reality, for which I give my eternal respect. And for a book on dinosaurs and time travel, it managed to stay pretty mature with two story lines – a group of future scientists stuck in Mesozoic age and another group far in future to meet the Unchangings.

It also provides the best available interpretations for readers to ponder on things like why aren’t ears evolved in dinosaurs, how grass changed the laws of evolution, or is an extinction aftermath better than survival of fittest for species diversity. Story goes sloppy and frustrating at many points with forgettable characters and non uniform pace, where author conveniently swerves off the questions readers are left with. But it does do depict one thing accurate – publishing driven current scientific community. Other than that, in terms of expectations, this book moves into the realm of might-have-beens.


I admit to googling Cthuluraptor for some weird results and ending up re-watching Kung Fury for Laseraptors. And now I am left with absolutely non show off-able intricate informations such as difference between ranching and domesticating, cold blooded-warm blooded animal distinctions and their likes.Who knows, some of these infamous infos might be a better pick up line than pac-man, in some future timeline.

So bottom line, hell- yeah for Scherzo for Tyrannosaurus and an usual yeah for Bones of the Earth.




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