The three chief characters of "The Satanic Illusion" are Rivers, Zahn, and Hubert. Rivers has the advantage over the other two because his character is developed through several stories, whereas Zahn and Hubert barely have time to fulfill their functions as antagonists. Rivers is from Australia and for most of his life he has led hunting safaris, the objective of which is to secure trophies for the customers. The modern world is fast running out of trophy animals, with most being either extinct or endangered and on protected wildlife reserves. Faced with unemployment, Rivers learns that a time machine has been invented, and he and his partner Chandra Aiyar, as well as a host of other professional hunters, rush to the machine's inventor Prochaska and arrange to use it to ferry customers and supplies back to eras in which exotic animals such as dinosaurs and mastodons existed. Rivers's adventures usually involve difficult people who do not listen to him as they should, and he is frequently in danger while trying to keep his customers out of danger.
He is a hardheaded professional modeled on the stereotypical British professional hunter that romantic adventures often have leading safaris in Africa. He is both a hard-nosed businessman and a matter-of-fact realist, believing the evidence of his own eyes. This last trait brings him into conflict with more spiritually inclined people such as Zahn and Hubert. Zahn is "St. Louis' leading hellfire-and-damnation Fundamentalist preacher," and he is determined to prove evolutionism wrong. A big, fat man, he is too soft for Rivers's taste, and he lacks Rivers's hardened view of life. '"We have no intention of hunting or shooting anything,' said Zahn. 'From what I hear about wildlife, if you leave them alone they will mostly do you the same courtesy. No guns . . .'" Ignorant about wildlife, unwilling to carry weapons, and somewhat closed-minded, Zahn is the antithesis of Rivers, and Rivers wants nothing to do with him, but Rivers did tell an audience at the West Side YMCA that he wished he could show a creationist what he has seen of ancient wildlife. Even so, Zahn's ignorance of wildlife makes him a poor candidate for observing the signs in ancient life that would point to evolution, creation, or some other mechanism.
Although Rivers and Zahn are the chief representatives of their points of view, Hubert's role is crucial in the playing out of the themes of "The Satanic Illusion." He begins the story as an obnoxious zealot: "We hope you won't mind if this survey ruins your business," says Hubert to Rivers. Why? "Because it will expose the falsity of the whole evolutionary heresy. It will demonstrate that all these prehistoric beasts, whereof your clients bring home heads, hides, and photographs, did not live in succession, but all at the same...
(The entire section is 1145 words.)