Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Wildcat

I have discussed some aspects of Poul Anderson's "Wildcat," IN Anderson, Past Times (New York, 1984), pp. 7-57, previously but not recently.

Scientific knowledge includes knowledge of dinosaurs. Therefore, science fiction includes imaginative accounts of encounters with dinosaurs that are to be found in the most ingenious of locations:

a lost World;
a Land that Time Forgot;
the center of the Earth;
a Dinosaur Island;
an African valley;
other planets;
a Jurassic Park;
the Jurassic Period.

Explorers in jungles, in the Pacific, within the Earth, on other planets and in time encounter dinosaurs. Once, according to the Brigadier in Doctor Who:

"Large prehistoric reptiles began to appear in the center of London. Needless to say, there was a certain amount of panic and some loss of life. The criminal element took advantage of the situation. We have contained the criminals and the reptiles within a five mile radius of the center."

(Or words to that effect.)

Anderson's wildcatters encounter brontosaurs, tyrannosaurs, plesiosaurs and pterodactyls because they travel to the Jurassic Period just as his Time Patrolmen meet Sherlock Holmes because they travel to the Victorian period. However, the dinosaurs, although dangerous, are essentially just part of the Jurassic scenery. What mainly happens is that the wildcatters interact economically and politically with the Cold War period of the twentieth century:

"...there would not be such a shortage of oil up in the future if Transoco had not gone back and drained it in the past. A self-causing future -" (pp. 16-17)

"Hoyle's idea seemed to be right, [oil] had not been formed by rotting dinosaurs but was present from the beginning. It was the stuff which had stuck the planets together." (p. 17)

Fred Hoyle? I thought that oil was formed by rotting vegetation?

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