This morning’s email of bargain e-books included one by Robert Silverberg–Hawksbill Station. The story line seems to be (it was written in the late ’60s) in the 21st century, USA has become a tyranny and dangerous political prisoners are transported to what will become the North American east coast in the late Cambrian era, where they can do no harm. With no hope of return and no women (they are transported to a different time) most of the prisoners gradually sink into catatonia or suicide. The most dangerous (i.e., the Alpha) of them retains his mental facilities as he ages and loses his physical powers. The action revolves around the Alpha’s flashbacks of Silverberg’s notions of how the late ’60s political unrest will evolve into open rebellion and vicious suppression, and the arrival of a new prisoner, who arouses suspicions somehow.
As familiar as Silverberg’s name is, I don’t remember reading anything by him, and after reading some reviews I’m not tempted to buy that book–even for $1.99. I did drop $0.99 for an anthology of his short stories published in the pulps, however.
My point, and I do have one, is that the time travel angle is one that I’ve humored a bit as an approach to talking about Barfield’s notions of how consciousness has evolved so far, and how it might evolve in the future. His own “Night Operation” was a SciFi look at a future generation, but really didn’t look at the future of participation as much as it examined how he had explored the past through words and books.
Time travel, of course, was at the heart of Tim Powers’ “Anubis Gates” with the time travel angle being a way to get a modern protagonist back to 1810 London where the oddities can take place.
Something similar could serve to place someone with our current state of consciousness in earlier periods–Tudor, Medieval, Roman, Bronze Age and/or Neolithic, and say Ice-age Paleolithic–and contrasting our consciousness–our way of saving the appearances–with theirs.
The trick, other than telling the story and actually writing it, will be figuring out some way to represent that difference to the reader. So far, what I’ve read (or how I’ve taken-in what I’ve read) of Barfield’s he indicated that those differences existed and gave some details about how original participation differs from our awareness, but not much detail–or how it changed over time. Perhaps its there and I just need to reread and take notes, or perhaps I need to find out who has built upon his work.