No Enemy But Time Essay - Critical Essays

Michael Bishop


Michael Bishop’s No Enemy But Time is a vivid and convincing vision of what modern humanity’s ancestors might have been like, and it is one of the most profound dissertations within the science-fiction genre on the nature of humanity. The story of Joshua Kampa (John Monegal) and his association with the Pleistocene hominids and their way of life is both compelling and convincing, and several scenes in the book, including the death of Helen, are among the most moving to appear in any science-fiction novel. The book also has a pro-tolerance subtext that true human love can exist between people with noticeable differences.

Bishop obviously spent considerable time researching anthropology and theories about various proto-human species. The verisimilitude of his Pleistocene East Africa far exceeds that of Jean Auel’s Earth Children series (1982-1990). As it relates to anthropology and paleontology, No Enemy But Time is clearly scientific, but Bishop is unable to attain the same verisimilitude in relation to the operation of the time machine, the explanation of which teeters uncomfortably between physics and sheer mysticism. The text does not explain why John (and a handful of others) can receive accurate information through time in their dreams, and it provides conflicting explanations and evidence regarding whether the past into which they travel is the actual past, a re-created alternative past, or a mental construct without tangible...

(The entire section is 465 words.)