Dinosaur Beach (1971)


A few years ago I was convinced that I didn’t like time-travel stories much, until I read some of the very few good ones, those that really go crazy with the concept and explore all of the weird stuff you can do with it. Dinosaur Beach by Laumer is pretty much in that vain: An agent of the 4th generation of time travelers who has to clean up after previous generations (those who tried to solve problems raised by the first time travelers; and those who had to clean up after them), finds himself side-tracked into a closed, looping timeline and has to find out who is after him and why.

It’s a true tour-de-force from start to end: Every few pages a new concept is introduced, the story twists into unexpected directions and you wonder how all this will hold together, as it seems Laumer is spinning a yarn by the thinnest of threads. It’s easy to poke holes into most time travel stories, but if a book fully embraces paradoxes and inconsistencies, makes them even part of the overall story, it’s hard not to applaud the author.

There are some weak spots here, especially the hard shift toward the end away from the save-the-romantic-love-interest angle toward something entirely else, but it’s kind of understandable why Laumer did it, and it works (well, depending on where you draw the line on how often an author is allowed to deploy a deus ex machina to get his character out of any situation). Its not just an enjoyable read, but despite being more or less mostly an action-adventure, all the ideas it contain makes it feel much cleverer and smarter.