Author Topic: EP346: Hawksbill Station  (Read 17992 times)

Kaa

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Reply #25 on: June 04, 2012, 01:38:36 PM
why would the folks "up front" not send him or others further back -- to rescue the political prisoners sooner -- before many of them snapped?

You answered your own question: because it hadn't "already happened." If they had rescued them years earlier, then they would have recollected them being rescued years earlier. They didn't, so...they couldn't. Or simply didn't. Either way.

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Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #26 on: June 04, 2012, 02:47:02 PM
I liked this story, even though the end was a forgone conclusion.
As soon as he said that "to the east was what would become the Atlantic Ocean" I knew we were dealing with stranded time travelers. And that they would become unstranded. Because of the simple fact that no archeological or paleontological evidence of their stay exists.
I was happy to hear that the protagonist was giving out hints along the way, for people to pick up:
  • Mentioning the trilobite land excursion
  • The discussion on the fact that there would be no evidence of their stay
So now it's just a matter of letting the story unfold at its own pace and reveal the ending to those who hadn't figured it out yet.
So no conflict or plot twist for me, but still a nice piece of literature.

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doctorwinters

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Reply #27 on: June 05, 2012, 02:57:16 PM
There was one thing that bothered me though. Would the pre-cambrian atmosphere even be breathable to humans?

I had the same question, he stated there were no land based plants or animals, didn't he? That would mean a pretty low oxygen level



Kaa

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Reply #28 on: June 05, 2012, 03:28:01 PM
There was one thing that bothered me though. Would the pre-cambrian atmosphere even be breathable to humans?

I had the same question, he stated there were no land based plants or animals, didn't he? That would mean a pretty low oxygen level

Not necessarily. Even today, most of our oxygen comes from phytoplankton, if I recall correctly.

At any rate, according to Wikipedia, the early Cambrian atmosphere would have had about 63% of the oxygen of our present-day atmosphere. However, the first trilobites didn't appear until about halfway through the Lower Cambrian. To get to the monsters that were referenced in the story, it would have had to have been considerably later than that. It was also quite cold during most of the Cambrian, and started warming up toward the end of the period. So perhaps combining the sparse details given in the story, we can conclude that it had to be warm with a breathable atmosphere and monster-sized trilobites: late (or Upper) Cambrian.

By the Ordovician Period (the one right after the Cambrian), the oxygen content had risen to 68% of today's level.

But humans have adapted to high altitudes, and I'll bet there is somewhere on earth where people live today that has the equivalent "oxygen content" (I know all air is 23% oxygen; but with less pressure, it seems like it would have about the same effect as though the air contained less oxygen). At the top of Mt. Everest, for example, you get about 1/3 of the amount of oxygen you do at sea level. Someone is sure to know a place where it's about 63%.

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Puck

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Reply #29 on: June 06, 2012, 03:23:10 AM
I really, really enjoyed this story.  It definitely had a much slower pace than my usual fare, but I enjoyed the slower pace as it allowed the author to really delve into his characters and flesh them out.  The pace seemed quite appropriate to the location/time of the story and seemed to heighten the whole mood. While a number of people have complained about the length, I found myself wanting more and would happily read a whole novel based on this concept and characters.  The one flaw I found, in the story, was the end.  While I anticipated the outcome of the story early on that isn't what bothered me.  What annoyed me was how quickly the author wrapped it up, almost like he ran out of things to say and just needed it finished or wasn't quite sure how to end it.  Overall, though, I thought this was an excellent story and am excited to search out more of this author's works.



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #30 on: June 08, 2012, 03:57:42 PM
Wow. I've fallen behind.

Two points:

1) I personally find the length of story is not proportional to my enjoyment or involvement with it. This story held my attention because of a clear line of narrative which engaged me. It was fairly easy to understand what was going on but not immediately, and I cared about the characters.

2) the simple fact of the matter is we don't know what the effects of time travel would be on the "future". My suggestion is to go back and try and change something and see what happens. If it does.

Let me know how that works out.  ;)



Listener

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Reply #31 on: June 08, 2012, 05:08:03 PM
2) the simple fact of the matter is we don't know what the effects of time travel would be on the "future". My suggestion is to go back and try and change something and see what happens. If it does.

The presence of the Coke bottle/can/whatever in "The Eckener Alternative" was a neat little nod to that idea.

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Coolbreeze44105

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Reply #32 on: June 10, 2012, 04:06:41 PM
 ;D

Loved that all the characters of the story were Left-wing loonies consigned to prison (as it should be). Also loved the way that the main Left-wing looney character became so enamoured of his institutionalied lifestyle that he refused to leave when his sentence was commuted by the Left-wing looney government.

This is also predictable as with many Left-wingnuts. They become so in love with their institutionalized prison that escape or even release is an impossible let down for them. After all, isn't prison the ideal Left-wing scenario: Government provided food, shelter, uniform clothing, healthcare, and education all in a protected environment with absolute gun control, gay rights, and thought control? Sounds like a typical Commie Pinko "Occupy Wallstreeter's" paradise to me.



Talia

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Reply #33 on: June 10, 2012, 08:39:11 PM
Just a reminder of the Rules of the forums.


Please be respectful of others. Thanks.




Myrealana

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Reply #34 on: June 12, 2012, 02:05:17 PM
I listen to EP on my 25-30 minute commute. As such, a story of this length took a full day, plus the next morning's drive, plus a little while at work when I should have been paying attention to currency conversion rates instead of Robert Silverberg's version of the past and future.

It was worth it. I really enjoyed this story. I was completely caught up with Barrett. In between shifts of listening, I, too, wondered what could be up with Han, and at the end couldn't just turn it off and wait eight hours for the final reveal. The sheer boredom driving men mad is a given, but the ways in which they cracked were interesting and added to my enjoyment of the story as a whole. Once Han's opinion of Barrett was revealed, I found myself wondering how reliable his POV really was. Wasn't it possible he was cracking too?

What I find most remarkable is how the story takes place both in the far flung past, but also in the near future, and how believable both of those worlds were.

No wonder Silverberg is a master

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Thomas

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Reply #35 on: June 12, 2012, 02:53:33 PM
I really enjoyed this story. I was completely caught up with Barrett. In between shifts of listening, I, too, wondered what could be up with Han, and at the end couldn't just turn it off and wait eight hours for the final reveal. The sheer boredom driving men mad is a given, but the ways in which they cracked were interesting and added to my enjoyment of the story as a whole. Once Han's opinion of Barrett was revealed, I found myself wondering how reliable his POV really was. Wasn't it possible he was cracking too?

What I find most remarkable is how the story takes place both in the far flung past, but also in the near future, and how believable both of those worlds were.

No wonder Silverberg is a master

I had previously read this story, it stuck with me. Even though I knew what was to happen, I was still held captive to this story. In my remembering of this tale, I had embellished it. I was expecting more detail than I heard. I also had forgotten more than I had realized. The "anvil" and other details of the device, how the station got set up, etc. But Silverberg is, as you said, a master and knows how to tell a tale that stands the test of time. (pun intended)

Enjoy and be nice to each other, because "WE" is all we got.


timprov

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Reply #36 on: June 13, 2012, 11:56:37 AM
I love reading, or listening too, stories from the the pulp era of Science Fiction.  There are some authors who just know how much detail to give, what to leave out, what to leave the imagination and this story didn't seem to have one wasted scene or description. I find some of today's work to be overwritten with scenes that don't seem to serve a purpose or overlong descriptions of items and places that feel more like they belong a travelog than a story.  A true master knows not to waste anything and, even though this was a long story, it felt like it was just the right length with a fantastic beginning, middle and end. 

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SF.Fangirl

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Reply #37 on: June 14, 2012, 01:59:40 AM
Great choice for a sci fi classic.  It was really pulpy.   :D    I enjoyed it and didn't mind the unusually long length.  In fact I appreciated the length even though it took me at least two commutes to get through it.

I did catch on very early that the new guy was a plant evaluating them for return; although, I pegged him as an academic/psychologist.  (I figure a cop would have done a better job of fitting in while undercover.)



Devoted135

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Reply #38 on: June 14, 2012, 01:59:51 PM
I did catch on very early that the new guy was a plant evaluating them for return; although, I pegged him as an academic/psychologist.  (I figure a cop would have done a better job of fitting in while undercover.)


I also thought he was a psychologist! I would hope that a cop wouldn't be as clueless/bad at blending in as Han was...



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #39 on: June 14, 2012, 03:42:43 PM
I did catch on very early that the new guy was a plant evaluating them for return; although, I pegged him as an academic/psychologist.  (I figure a cop would have done a better job of fitting in while undercover.)


I also thought he was a psychologist! I would hope that a cop wouldn't be as clueless/bad at blending in as Han was...
That depends. Beat cops are pretty bad at it.
I'd think that a psychologist, a person trained in the way people think, would blend better.

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Unblinking

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Reply #40 on: June 15, 2012, 04:47:18 PM
The one major plot flaw that glared at me after thinking about the story is, once the spy reported what he found, why would the folks "up front" not send him or others further back -- to rescue the political prisoners sooner -- before many of them snapped?

That seemed to entirely make sense based on their description of time travel.

To reach a particular point in time, there needs to be an anchoring station at both ends of the time tunnel.  If the other end is not anchored, then things passing through will end up more or less in the right place and time, but with some random swings.

In this case, once both ends were established, then you can think of the two time-periods moving in step with each other.  If one year passes at my end, one year also passes at the other end.  So the time tunnel doesn't lead to a fixed destination time (which would be impractical anyway because everything you sent through would arrive simultaneously) but to a time which is at a fixed interval from this end's time.

So it took some time for the political climate to change.  During that duration, as much time has passed at Hawksbill.  At that point, the new regime decides to send somebody.  They have three choices:
1.  Build a new time tunnel beginning, which may be prohibitively expensive, and just send a person through without the end established.  I would not want to be that guy because they could end up centuries off target too early or too late, might end up appearing a mile in the air and falling to their death, etc.  When they built Hawksbill they sent all the parts through this way, knowing that some would be lost, but sending people that way would be too cavalier.
2.  Build a new time tunnel beginning AND the destination at the other end, but aim for an earlier destination.  If the timeline is fixed, then you already know that you failed at this because there is no other station.  If the timeline is not fixed, then at the very least there would be very unpredictable results by trying to build the two stations instead of just the one.
3.  Send someone through the established time tunnel to the same station.  This requires no extra building expense, and although it is dangerous in that they don't know how the people at the Station will react, at least they're not just chucking a person through to a random variation of the desired destination to a probable death.

So, I don't think there would be any other reasonable way to approach it.



Scatcatpdx

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Reply #41 on: June 15, 2012, 08:45:29 PM
I like this one. Something I never care for in left tilting political tinged SF is how they push and brow beat their political ideas into the story. It almost like putting  the ideas or making aware of one's political pet project over good story telling. This is fan example were good story that transcends ones political view.



childoftyranny

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Reply #42 on: June 22, 2012, 07:51:54 PM
This was a fun listen, one thing I particularly enjoyed was exactly how being political-partisan was just what people where, its was they thought about, discussed designed things as but that was the point, in fact it was almost a point in passing, since there were political prisoners of a certain regime they were all kind of the same and it was almost a point of joking between them, even if they had been deadly serious about it up front.



CryptoMe

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Reply #43 on: July 05, 2012, 02:53:38 AM
I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

1) The Cambrian period only started 540 million years ago, and (as someone already pointed out) trilobites first appeared about 525 million years ago. So, Hawksbill Station can not have been set up 1 billion years in the past, as was repeated several times in the story.

2) Most of the bombardment that formed the Moon's craters was done by 3.6 billion years ago, so the Moon's surface could not have been featureless 1 billion years ago.

Now, my first thought was that this story was written a while ago; maybe that was the state of knowledge on these subjects at the time. But, according to Wikipedia, the story was written in 1967. By then, the start of the Cambrian period was known to be well under one billion years and probably less than 600 million years ago. Also, by that point, it was fairly certain that the Moon's craters were caused by impacts (the last dregs of the Solar System's accretion disk striking the planets) and not volcanoes. So, I am kind of disappointed that Silverberg didn't get these details right.

But, I am sure almost no-one else noticed. And I did enjoy the story otherwise.

 



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Reply #44 on: July 05, 2012, 12:32:18 PM
I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

In other news, one of EP's listeners is a planetary geologist. I just thought I'd call attention to that, because... well, it makes my work as an advertising designer seem pretty small-time, for one thing.

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CryptoMe

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Reply #45 on: July 05, 2012, 06:43:08 PM
I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

In other news, one of EP's listeners is a planetary geologist. I just thought I'd call attention to that, because... well, it makes my work as an advertising designer seem pretty small-time, for one thing.

LOL!
Advertising designer seems pretty cool to me. Your work influences millions!! And you are a published author too. My work, I'm lucky if 3 people read it ;)



TheFunkeyGibbon

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Reply #46 on: July 06, 2012, 03:59:37 PM
I loved this story. It showed to me that the best Sci-Fi is more about the Fi than the Sci. The concept here is an amazing idea but it works because that is a framework for the real story which is about humans and how they deal with extreme situations, like being stranded so far in the past.



Gamercow

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Reply #47 on: July 17, 2012, 07:47:53 PM
I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

But, I am sure almost no-one else noticed. And I did enjoy the story otherwise.

I'm not a planetary geologist, and both of those things struck me as wrong. I didn't have the hard dates that you mention(3.6 billion and 525 million) but I knew that during the time of the trilobites, the moon would have craters and look just about like it did today, minus some bright Copernican craters.  It didn't hurt the story for me, as those were just side-referential mentions to point out that "This is not today's Earth". 

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CryptoMe

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Reply #48 on: July 19, 2012, 06:29:30 AM
I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

But, I am sure almost no-one else noticed. And I did enjoy the story otherwise.

I'm not a planetary geologist, and both of those things struck me as wrong. I didn't have the hard dates that you mention(3.6 billion and 525 million) but I knew that during the time of the trilobites, the moon would have craters and look just about like it did today, minus some bright Copernican craters.  It didn't hurt the story for me, as those were just side-referential mentions to point out that "This is not today's Earth". 

Yay! So glad to hear I was not the only one ;).



Umbrageofsnow

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Reply #49 on: August 16, 2012, 06:52:10 PM

Now, my first thought was that this story was written a while ago; maybe that was the state of knowledge on these subjects at the time. But, according to Wikipedia, the story was written in 1967. By then, the start of the Cambrian period was known to be well under one billion years and probably less than 600 million years ago. Also, by that point, it was fairly certain that the Moon's craters were caused by impacts (the last dregs of the Solar System's accretion disk striking the planets) and not volcanoes. So, I am kind of disappointed that Silverberg didn't get these details right.


I was thrilled in reading this comment by the thoroughness to check the "Science Marches On" explanation before declaring that Silverberg didn't do the research. Sadly it turns out that Silverberg didn't do the research, but it was nice of you to give him the benefit of the doubt. Reading the EscapeArtists forums, I could almost believe the internet was civilized.

I was surprised by how much I liked this story. At the length it is, and being late 60s SF by an author who I admittedly haven't read much of, but don't think of as being generally my cup of tea, I was expecting to hate it and switch off half an hour in. I somehow got through the whole hour and a half or whatever without noticing how much time had passed. The writing just really grabbed me in a way most very long stories never do. And thinking back, I can't remember enough things happening to account for the length, it was just so much world building, but done very smoothly and interestingly. It all really added to the sense of place and gave a nice feel to the story.

I can't believe I'm saying this, as I'm usually among the first to get angry over inaccurate science, bad math/logic, unintentional anachronism or incompatible timelines in stories, but I honestly think the story is better for getting some of the details wrong about the moon and the geology of the world. You need to have some kind of big life in the oceans to feed the people besides supply drops, to get the feel the story is going for and to make the drops not a regular thing, but the world needs to be sufficiently alien. Not saying our friendly neighborhood planetary geologist couldn't have come up with accurate alien descriptions of a cambrian-world, but I don't begrudge Silverberg this one, thinking about it, although I'm surprised that I don't.  Maybe it helps that it isn't a field I know much of anything about.