My life in outer space

End of an Era – Robert J Sawyer (1994)

End Of An Era

‘2004 AD – Minus 66.6 Million years

Dr Thackeray and Professor Jordan take a trip back into deep time to unlock the greatest mystery of Earth’s remote past: why did the dinosaurs become extinct? On arrival, they find more that they’ve bargained for. Attacked by Troodons, they discover that the dinosaurs are themselves possessed – by alien invaders hell-bent on the domination of all other life-forms…

How the time travellers grapple with this nightmare threat to humanity is the subject of this totally compelling novel of science fiction adventure in the distant past – and near future. ‘End of an Era’ is an outstanding example of imaginative storytelling at its finest.’

Blurb from the 1994 NEL paperback edition

This novel is certainly not well-served by the garish and somewhat juvenile cover of my paperback copy, on which technicolour Troodons (one presumes they look a bit like raptors) rampage across a technicolour primeval landscape.
It’s actually an intelligently written and interesting piece which features complex characters as a refreshing change, although they could have been explored a little more.
Brandon and Klicks, two professors of Natural History are chosen to be sent back in time to a period just before the extinction event sixty-five million years ago.
The two men, one English/Canadian, the other West Indian, used to be best friends until Brandon’s divorce after which his wife took up with Klicks.
When they arrive back in the time of the dinosaurs, their working relationship is put under a strain. It’s not long, however, before the two discover that a Martian intelligent virus has taken control of dinosaur bodies. Knowing that they are extinct in the future, Klicks wants to take the Het (as they call themselves) back with them, but Brandon is more cautious.
Meanwhile, back in the future, Brandon has discovered an electronic diary which he has no recollection of writing, a diary which details his adventures with the dinosaurs. He has no memory of the trip and the woman who designed and ran the Time Travel project gave up working in that field years ago. He is also not divorced and is shocked to discover the reports of Klicks and his wife Tess.
There’s some odd real life predictions, such as when Brandon recalls taking Tess to see the sixth Star Wars film, and one that thankfully didn’t come true; when Brandon is watching movies and finds Macauley Culkin to be a surprisingly good 007.
It is maybe rather too brief. I’d have liked some additional suspense and character development, but on the whole it’s a tidy little novel that makes some thought provoking points about viruses, and is very knowledgeable about dinosaurs.

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