The Dechronization of Sam Magruder
A classic story told in the tradition of H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, but a philosophical work that examines the reality of modern existence against the backdrop of our prehistoric past. I discovered my father's manuscript ten years after his death and put it together with essays by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Jay Gould. Gould, GGS's former student at Harvard University, calls him the greatest vertebrate paleontologist of the twentieth century. Published by St. Martin's Press in 1996.
"Magruder" has been translated into a number of languages,sold around the world, and widely reviewed. Booklist noted that "Magruder faces cosmic loneliness and despair; but as a scientist he grasps the chance to observe the dinos and settle for future paleontologists the controversies about their appearance and behavior. More than a whimsical survival yarn about a castaway, Simpson's charming tale also touches motifs prominent in the genre (e.g., time travel)...." The New York Times reviewer comments that "Simpson, considered the greatest vertebrate paleontologist of the 20th century, wrote other autobiographical books; the personal revelations and confessions expressed here were apparently so tender and close to the bone that he chose the guise of fiction.... Magruder very plausibly stands for Simpson." Publishers Weekly comments that "Magruder" exhibits some of GGS's "crusty wit" and that "the end, which involves an epiphany Sam has when trapping small, shrew-like mammals for their fur, is comic and oddly moving at once: he realizes, with a sense of both awe and the ridiculous, that the creature is his 'Great-grandpa.'"
From National Public Radio's program, "All Things Considered": "...the primal sense of wonder that leads on all good science fiction fans grows in these few pages to a level truly marvelous. The late George Gaylord Simpson's short novel is an amazing little discovery." And from the San Francisco Chronicle: "...this novella brims with an intellectual vitality that the author of 'Jurassic Park' might do well to emulate. 'The Dechronization of Sam Magruder' is a small gem, and readers who prize elegance over bombast will be rewarded by seeking it out."
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