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Hubbell: Cretaceous Sea—Post-Jurassic Park

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What would you do if you had access to a time-travel machine? H.G. Wells had his time-traveler go far into the future, returning only for a few volumes from his library to help the growth of the society he found there. Leo Frankowski scattered generations of a world-wide time-police organization across 2000 years of history to make sure that one man (Conrad Stargard) survived in medieval Poland. And L. Sprague deCamp assumed a historian traveling to Imperial Rome would want to prevent that empire’s decline and fall.

Peter Green and Ann Smyth, the lucky owners of the time-warp apparatus in Will Hubbell’s Cretaceous Sea, have a better idea. They’ll sell&#8212to multi-millionaires only&#8212the chance to vacation in the “unspoiled, pristine wilderness” of the inland sea that existed in mid-America at the boundary of the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods.

The millionaire backer they’ve chosen, John Greighton, has good reason to desire an escape from the crowds. His new (young) fianceé has a disturbing propensity for attracting young men and spending his money, and he wants a chance to solidy his relationship with her away from such distractions.

Greighton insists on bringing his spoiled teenage daughter along, however, and Smyth promises him there will be a “staff naturalist” along to keep her out of Daddy’s hair. To geologist and fossil collector Rick Clements, it sounds like the perfect graduate-school job&#8212although he’s not sure he believes the machine can really take them back, he’s eager for a chance to collect living specimens of the animals he’s only seen immured in rock until now. And Constance Greighton, the “child” he expects to babysit, will not prevent him from making the most of this opportunity.

Perhaps Green and Smyth’s skewed view of what to do with such a windfall comes from the source. They are not inventors of this technology. They stole it from the original owner, who (Green surmises) came from a future time when time-travel technology is fairly commonplace. Perhaps it is a result of the disturbing fact that only one time&#8212the Cretaceous (K-T) boundary&#8212and only one place can be reached with their ill-gotten transport. Fortunately for Green and Smyth, there are living quarters at their proposed resort.

Unfortunately for all of the vacationers, there’s more at the destination than a convenient group of summer cottages. It’s a problem of stolen technology&#8212there’s no manual, and an undocumented feature will sometimes crash the system. In their case, it leaves them stranded on the edge of the Cretaceous Sea, where they will have an excellent view of the meteor that ended the Age of the Dinosaurs.

Hubbel has written a thriller in time-travel guise that mingles just a little geologic and dinosaur fact with lots of adventure. Don’t expect it to stretch your brain&#8212this story is strictly for fun, and it succeeds very well.

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About DrPat

  • JR

    Minor nitpick: that would be the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary.

  • DrPat

    Yep, JR, you’re correct. I plead confusion engendered from my day-long battlle with Blogger to get this post completed. It’s been edited.

  • Eric Berlin

    This sounds like a fun read: I’m a sucker for time travel stuff.

    That said, I loved the idea and set-up of Crichton’s Timeline but felt it devolved into a middling thriller as it went along.

  • DrPat

    I would recommend any of the linked titles (except the last, of course) over Crichton’s “science fiction.” (IMHO, he doesn’t write science fiction at all, just thrillers vaguely flavored with sci-fi themes.)

  • Eric Berlin

    This book review has been selected for You’ll be able to find this and other Blog Critics reviews at such places at’s Book Reviews column.