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Hawksbill Station (A Star book) [Paperback]

Robert Silverberg
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Star; New Ed edition (18 Mar 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0352310901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0352310903
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,723,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description



About the Author

Robert Silverberg (1935 - ) Robert Silverberg was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1935, and is one of the most prolific authors of all time, writing not just SF & Fantasy, but extensive non-fiction and a large number of pseudonymously published erotica novels. In his first years as a professional writer, his output regularly exceeded a million words per year. He has won and been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards dozens of times as both writer and editor, and in 2004 received the SFWA Grand Master Award. Among his many acclaimed and bestselling novels are A Time of Changes, The Book of Skulls, Dying Inside and Lord Valentine's Castle. Robert Silverberg lives on the West Coast of the United States with his wife, author, editor and art critic, Karen Haber.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars TimeWas Time is? 28 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Silverberg stands out from the majority of SF practioners merely by virtue of his narrative competence. But this early work must be regarded as only half successful. The concept of a precambrian prison settlement is excellent, and the invention of details to complement the idea are intriguing and cleverly deployed. However, RS for some reason felt that all this fantasy needed justifying by a 20th Century political exposition (and a very Sixties political justification at that). This diversion has the effect of dissipating all the good work put into the imagined prehistory and the convicts' struggles to come to terms with what has happened to them.

Worth reading, all the same, if only for the jolt (and an authentic SF jolt) provided by a finely rendered imaginary dislocation.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More straightforward but still good 27 Jan 2000
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Out of all the Silverberg books (or the classic ones at least) this has to be the most direct and least complex out of all of them. The plot is fairly simple, a rigid Earth government sentenced all its dissidents to a station billions of years in the past and with the way technolongy is, they can only move time in one direction, that being back. So they're all stuck there. The leader of the camp, Barrett, isn't the first one there but has been there the longest but recently was crippled, making him doubt his continued usefulness. The character of Barrett is fleshed out remarkably well, showing both how such a man became a political activist and how he holds up against the pressure of being stranded forever. Silverberg also showz us everyone else in the camp, and shows how they didn't take the pressure so well. If Silverberg had just stuck with the stories on Hawksbill Station then the book would be little more than highly entertaining genre SF but because of his deep delving into the characters he manages to make several pointed political comments in general that aren't the least bit dated, which is the point. Definitely lacks some of the intensity of his later works, as well as some emotional involvement but still stands head and shoulders above a lot of what is out there today.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political Sci-Fi 12 July 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book is about political prisoners who are exiled back in time a billion years to the cambrian period in a place called Hawksbill Station. There is nothing but solid rock, no plants or animals on land, only in the sea. The story alternates between the cambrian and the present. Most of the men at Hawksbill are losing their minds because of the deprevation. I found those chapters interesting. The chapters from the present time focused on what landed the main character in Hawksbill. They aren't all that interesting, unless you like reading ca. 1960's political subversion. The writing is great, typical Silverberg, and a well told story. But I didn't like it enough to give it 5 stars.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashes to ashes 10 Dec 1999
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
One of the more "conventional" science fiction novels that came out of Silverberg's most fruitful period, Hawksbill Station is still pretty much a classic, mostly for his vivid imagination and deep streak of humanity that colors all of his best work. In this novel, a brutal yet humane US government has taken any dissidents they find too dangerous to be left around and sent them back to Hawksbill Station, a billion years in the past, and unable to get back to the future because time travel apparently works only one way. The prisoners are led by Barrett, who has been there the longest (though he's not the first, the others have all since died from old age) and he presides over a lot of men who are without hope, without women (that seems to bother them a lot) and for the most part going absolutely crazy trying to deal with the fact that everything they have ever known is forever lost to them, friends, family, everything. To add to this, Barrett has recently had his foot crushed in a rockslide and this once proud strong man is forced to hobble around like the weakest cripple. Into all of this comes a new stranger, one who seems to hide a secret that could change them all. Meaty stuff and Silverberg tells it with such ease that the plot seems effortless and ends after the perfect length of time, nothing feels rushed or slowed and the pace never slackens. Along the way Silverberg fills in the life of Barrett with numerous flashbacks and the cutting between his past life and his current life create a great if artificial kind of suspense even if you do know what's going to happen, it still makes your heart quiver. And through these, as with all Silverberg's best work, we learn about what makes Barrett the man tick, what made him join the revolutionaries, what made him think he could change the world and how it helps him cope a billion years before everything. Unfortunately totally out of print these days, it's a book well worth trying to find in a used book store, along with all of his books from this period, not a sequel in the lot and they're all finely honed exmainations of science fiction. If any of this plot sounds familar to you it's probably because they've all become staples of science fiction plots, imitated by hundred of writers in an attempt to better the master, while some are inspired to seek out new pathways to explore. And that's probably the best praise a writer can get.
5.0 out of 5 stars an evocation of struggling against despair 2 Jun 2014
By Paula - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First, a caveat--I read this as a short story, in a "best of" collection a few years ago. It struck me very much, because it is both a story of people, and especially the protagonist, struggling against despair and a sense of meaninglessness and being cut off from what had given their lives meaning and love, and a story of how time is a divider that no one can pass through. That is, it is a "time travel" tale that deals with what time *IS* to people, in a way no other sf that I've read can (and no other novel or story either, and I have read A la recherche du temps passe, too).
I referred to the story "Hawksbill Station," this tale's original form, in my own novel The Rescur's Path, in evoking the despair of my heroine, Malca, after her beloved Gavin is killed--her despair on realizing there is no way back through the veil of time.
There is simply no other tale that reaches this understanding of time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Another Wonderful Creation From Mr. Silverberg 3 Feb 2014
By s.ferber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although it had been over 45 years since I initially read Robert Silverberg's novella "Hawksbill Station," several scenes were as fresh in my memory as if I had read them just yesterday; such is the power and the vividness of this oft-anthologized classic. Originally appearing in the August '67 issue of "Galaxy" magazine, the novella did not come to my teenaged attention till the following year, when it was reprinted in a collection entitled "World's Best Science Fiction 1968." Silverberg later expanded his 20,000-word story to novel form, which was duly published as a Doubleday hardcover in October '68. (So why then does the author's "Quasi-Official Web Site" list the book as a product of 1970?) It has taken me all these years to finally catch up with Silverberg's fix-up novel, but I am so glad that I did. To my delighted surprise--and I only say "surprise" because the author has long expressed his preference for the shorter of the two creations--I find the novel even better than the beloved original; a work that expands on the scope of the novella while adding character depth and reams of background to its wonderful central plot.

In both works, political prisoners of the near future are dealt with in a startling manner by the totalitarian government that had come to power in the U.S. in, um, 1984. By dint of a new time travel device that can send objects in only one direction--backwards--the government, starting in 2005, has started dumping its hard-core agitators 1 billion years in the past; i.e., the later Cambrian period, when Earth's surface was bare rock, devoid of soil, plants and even primitive insects, and the only life-forms to be found (invertebrates, trilobites) were in the sea. Thus, we meet some of the 140 men marooned in the eponymous Hawksbill Station, on the edge of what will one day be the Atlantic; a group of men slowly going mad, and held together by 60-year-old Jim Barrett, a 20-year veteran of the station. The men's lives are shaken one day by the arrival of a new prisoner, Lew Hahn, a youngish man who seems to oddly have little in the way of revolutionary fervor about him. But Hahn's later actions about the primitive camp leave the other inmates even more puzzled about his presence in their midst....

The novel-length "Hawksbill Station" differs from its antecedent in three main areas: (1) The novel has much more in the way of detail concerning the men and about life at the station; (2) the fate of the character Bruce Valdosto is completely different in the two works; and (3), and most significantly, the novel is three times as long as the novella largely because Silverberg has added numerous chapters showing us Barrett as a teenager, as a young revolutionary in the NYC of 1984, and as a cell leader, leading up to his arrest in 2006 and his "trial" shortly thereafter. These flashbacks on Barrett's part--paradoxically, they are more in the nature of billion-year flash-forwards for the reader--give us a much clearer knowledge of who Barrett is, and it is all fascinating stuff for those who, like me, had only been familiar with the shorter story. I have always been a sucker for novels with strong parallel plots, and Silverberg here gives us two doozies, brilliantly and suspensefully interlarded. Just as we are left with a cliffhanger situation with Barrett back in the Cambrian, the author brings us forward to modern times; just as things are growing tense for Barrett in the scary, dystopian days of 1994, we are back in the Cambrian again. This really is edge-of-your-seat storytelling, the result being a grippingly well-told yarn that is almost impossible to stop reading. Personally, I found the central plot device--political prisoners marooned at the dawn of time--a fascinating one, and Silverberg peppers his novel with any number of wonderful scenes. In my favorite, which I well recalled from 45 years ago, Barrett watches a trilobite crawl out of the sea, wonders if this could be the great ancestor of all future land animals...and then wonders what would happen if he were to stomp on it and kill it. The end of all future life on Earth's surface, perhaps? The author's descriptions of the Earth of a billion years past are quite convincing, and Barrett himself--a man of great inner strength, despite being a cripple due to a recently smashed left foot--is a terrific and likable central character. As usual, the author even manages to give us a prescient peek at some future technology; hence, the phone that Barrett wears on his ear while walking the city streets in the late 20th century! And in one moving section, Barrett tells us "a society has to obey its own morality, even when it's defending itself against possible enemies"; surely, words it would do well for us to remember today!

"Hawksbill Station," great as it is, is not a perfect book, and Silverberg, uncharacteristically, manages to make a few flubs during the course of the novel, and all as regards dates. He infers that "Minus One Billion, Two Thousand Oh Five A.D." is earlier than "A.D. Minus One Billion, Two Thousand Twenty-Nine," whereas it is of course 24 years later. He tells us that Barrett was arrested in 2006, 10 years after his girlfriend Janet had been taken by the authorities; that should be 12 years. And he mentions that Barrett had spoken to Edmond Hawksbill about his time travel invention six years before his own arrest; that should be eight years. Given that Silverberg is usually such a perfectionist with these kinds of little details, these gaffes come as even more surprising; one almost expects them with the notoriously careless Philip K. Dick. Still, these minor slips would in no wise interfere with any reader's enjoyment of this great tale. Be it the more insular and claustrophobic novella or the expanded novel, wonderful entertainment value is guaranteed. And here's another thought: In one section, we learn that all the female agitators of the early 21st century have been sent to a different time era; namely, the Silurian period, when only the most rudimentary plants and insects covered the Earth. Howzabout THAT for a much-belated sequel? The ultimate women-in-prison story! Pretty please, Mr. Silverberg....
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