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Chronotron

The Last Day of Creation

The Last Day of Creation (in original Der letzte Tag der Schöpfung) is a science fiction novel by German writer Wolfgang Jeschke, first published in 1981. The English translation was published in 1982 in the USA and Great Britain. In the same year the novel obtained the Kurd Laßwitz Award (Kurd Laßwitz Preis, German literate award comparable to the American Nebula Award).

Plot

The book is structured into three different parts. The first part describes several ancient artifacts that turn to be remnants of modern era items: a part of pilot's breathing pipe worshipped for centuries as a Catholic saintly relic, clearly recognizable trace of a jeep discovered during archaeological works on Gibraltar, found in the same layer as a skeleton of early hominid and equally old tube of grenade launcher just introduced in the US Army. William W. Francis, an ambitious officer of the US Navy, gets convinced that time travel is possible and manages to launch a secret project to develop technological device able to transfer people and materiel through time.

The second part describes the project "Chronotron", the successful implementation of time machine, at the moment able only to move things into the past. It is believed that time transfer into the future will be solved soon.

The government of the USA decides to move oil pumping machinery 5 million years into the past, set it up on oil deposits in Near East and transport the oil through the then dried-up Mediterranean Basin to the shores of North Sea where reverse time machines will push it to the modern era. The massively expensive project is kept strictly in secret. Objections of scientists that time transfer into the future may be just a dream, that the project could exhaust the country in a new arm race and that the history of humankind may be changed irreversibly are ignored.

The third part introduces Steve Stanley, a military pilot picked up to participate in the project. His task is to protect the installations and specialists transferred into the past. Stanley successfully descends into the prehistoric Mediterranean. Unexpectedly, he arrives into middle of all-out war where newcomers are chased by nuclear artillery. He finds out that the plan went completely wrong. Isolated groups of Americans got scattered within the time more than calculated, the reverse time transfer is impossible and the worst: Arabs had discovered the plan and decided to strike back by sending soldiers into the same period to destroy the American expedition.

Stanley meets people who arrived from several different futures (one where USA territory is limited to the east of Mississippi and Mexico is the superpower). Most of the time travellers, unable to accommodate life without modern amenities and without practical skills has been evacuated to a base on Bermudas, the rest tries to fend off attackers and to rescue unsuspecting newcomers. Overall, the situation is hopeless and the handful of modern humans has no chance to set up a new civilisation.

Editions

  • First edition: 1981, Heyne Verlag, ISBN 3453521218.
  • English language editions: ISBN 0312470614 (US) / ISBN 0712600426 (UK), 1982.
  • Translated into several other languages.
  • Last German language edition in 2005.

Trivia

  • Computer game Original War (2001) is freely based on the novel.

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