Dinosaurs and Time Travel

Ripped from the Twitter headlines! The genesis of this post:

 


I’ll pull @aeromenthe’s excellent link out and embed it. L. Sprague de Camp’s (1956) A Gun for Dinosaurs:

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I think there’s a rule that any time travel yarn has to deal with a kill-yer-grampy paradox (did H. G. Wells address it? I honestly can’t remember.) de Camp’s universe won’t allow a paradox, but Ray Bradbury’s will – A Sound of Thunder (1952) is his time travel/dino hunting tale. Tangentially – while looking for an on line version of ASoT, I stumbled across a reference to another dino hunting story I’ve never read: Birian Aldiss’ ‘Poor Little Warrior!’

As regards time travel paradoxes, you’d need to go a long way to beat Heinlein’s All You Zombies. Warning – classic Heinlein attitude displayed throughout.

In A Gun for Dinosaurs, Reginald Rivers talks about using a .600 Nitro Express in the Cretaceous. A .600 NE is a huge gun, but whenever I think of dinosaur guns, one always springs to mind: the Holland & Holland Saurian 4 bore.

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A little bit of history… Before there was modern smokeless powder, there was black powder. Both propellants get called gunpowder, but they are not the same thing. Black powder burns much more slowly than smokeless, and thus, with reasonable barrel lengths, just can’t produce muzzle velocities (how fast the bullet is going when it leaves the barrel) that hunters take for granted today. There are 2 terms in the equation for kinetic energy – velocity and mass. Since our black powder velocity is constrained, upping the mass is the option that’s left. The bore number is how may lead spheres of bore diameter it would take to get to 1 lb. A round ball bullet for a 4 bore weighs a quarter pound! Wikipedia’s entry on the 4 bore is quite good, if you’re curious.

I’m assuming the Saurian is built for black powder (or black powder equivalent) loads, though it’s somewhat academic. This is an art gun – an opportunity for engravers, smiths, stockmakers and cabinet makers to show their skills. I have an old magazine somewhere with more pictures of the Saurian – if I ever find it I will scan and post. The case, as I recall, included a glassed in area with a display of varous dinosaur fossils. Is the Saurian what I’d choose for my time travel dino hunt? Hell no. But it’s not like I’m going to have to choose anything any time soon.

And to finish, via @tetzoo, a major dino hunting disappointment.

Dinosplumes01

 

4 thoughts on “Dinosaurs and Time Travel

  1. Too long absent from reply & tweets– sludgy PD responses keep one permanently behind but…

    Saurian: have their (H & H) contemporary ridiculous spare no expenses LIFE SIZE glossy brochure, Not black powder I think– Brits knew lots about pressure curves back then– just a fat big bore. I wrote a Jurassic fantasy (Cretaceous????) about giant wing shooting in BSJ….

  2. Oh, I’d love to get my hands on the wing shooting story. Do you remember the issue? And am I correct in thinking the B is a typo and should be G?

  3. I have the original ” life” size Holland catalogue– can try to duplicate or failing that send. In Missouri on brief trip– email me in a couple of days.

  4. Hmm- I see I said something earlier before a Perfect Storm of health crises , dog & human, and multiple deadlines. Out from under now– call me!

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