Dechronization of Sam Magruder: A Novel

Dechronization of Sam Magruder: A Novel

by George Gaylord Simpson, Joan Simpson. Burns
     
 

This lost novella by the century's most renowned paleontologist has been called the greatest time-travel story in more than one hundred years.

Vanishing from Earth on February 30, 2162, while working on a problem of quantum theory, research chronologist Sam Magruder is thrown back 80 million years in time. Endowed with the intelligence of a… See more details below

Overview

This lost novella by the century's most renowned paleontologist has been called the greatest time-travel story in more than one hundred years.

Vanishing from Earth on February 30, 2162, while working on a problem of quantum theory, research chronologist Sam Magruder is thrown back 80 million years in time. Endowed with the intelligence of a twenty-second-century man, Magruder struggles to survive, feeding on scrambled turtle eggs and diligently recording his observations on a stone-slab diary, even as menacing tyrannosaurus try to gnaw off his limbs.

Filled with magnificent descriptions of the dinosaurs as only Simpson himself could render them, The Dechronization of Sam Magruder is not only a classic time-travel tale but a philosophical work that astutely ponders the complexities of human existence and achievement.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This intelligent, if conventional time-travel yarn, which was found by the daughter of the eminent paleontologist Simpson (d. 1984), shows some of the crusty wit of his idiosyncratic autobiography, Concessions to the Improbable. Simpson tells the tale of Sam Magruder, a 22nd-century scientist who slips back to the late Cretaceous period. In this ``Crusoe of the Cretaceous,'' as Clarke dubs it in his appreciative introduction, Magruder's struggle to maintain his mental composure in utter isolation is as important as his struggle for survival among the saurians. In the manner of H.G. Wells's Time Machine, the tale is framed by present-day (in this case, 22nd-century) interlocutors, who try to make sense of Magruder's record, which has been found by a geologist. Simpson uses the story to advance his preferred hypotheses about dinosaurs, most notably that they were cold-blooded and slow (a vision that has come under increasing attack since the 1960s, according to Gould's afterword), but he doesn't sacrifice storytelling to pedantry. When Magruder is shocked at the gleaming white teeth of a T-rex-he'd previously known only fossil-brown-the thought is shocking to the reader, too. The end, which involves an epiphany Sam has when trapping small, shrew-like mammals for their fur, is comic and oddly moving at once: he realizes, with a sense of both awe and the ridiculous, that the creature is his ``Great-grandpa.'' (Jan.)
Gilbert Taylor
Reporters we expect to stash their unpublished Great American Novel in the desk drawer, but famous scientists? Such was the fate of this quaint sf novella by Simpson, a pathbreaking paleontologist who died in 1984. The setup is simple: in the twenty-second century, some academics gather to read an astounding discovery--chiseled writing on eight stone slabs excavated from Cretaceous Period slate. It's the testimony of Sam Magruder, researcher of a quantum theory of time who--shazamm!--slips between quanta and falls into a dinosaur-infested swamp, with no way back to the future. As Earth's only human, Magruder faces cosmic loneliness and despair; but as a scientist he grasps the chance to observe the dinos and settle for future paleontologists the controversies about their appearance and behavior. More than a whimsical survival yarn about a castaway, Simpson's charming tale also touches motifs prominent in the sf genre (e.g., time travel) and receives a deserved publicity boost with a preface and postscript by Arthur Clarke and Stephen Jay Gould, respectively.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312139636
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
12/01/1995
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.19(w) x 7.69(h) x 0.67(d)

Meet the Author

George Gaylord Simpson, widely regarded as the greatest vertebrate paleontologist of the twentieth century, was a professor at Harvard University. He died in 1984.

Born in Minehead, Somerset in 1917, Arthur C. Clarke is perhaps the most celebrated science fiction author alive today. He is the author of more than sixty books with more than 50 million copies in print, and the winner of all the field's highest honors. He was named Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1986.

In 1945 he published the technical paper "Extra-terrestrial Relays", which in essence invented the principle of worldwide communication via geosynchronous satellite.

His well-known novels include Childhood's End; Against the Fall of Knight; 2001:A Space Odyssey; Rendezvous with Rama; Imperial Earth; The Fountains of Paradise; 2010: Odyssey Two; 2061: Odyssey Three, and 3001. In 1968, he collaborated with director Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was derived from his story "The Sentinel."

He was awarded the CBE in 1989 and knighted in 1998.

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