Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
No Enemy But Time Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1989
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Winner of the Nebula Award!
John Monegal, a.k.a. Joshua Kampa, is torn between two worldsâthe Early Pleistocene Africa of his dreams and the twentieth-century reality of his waking life. These worlds are transposed when a government experiment sends him over a million years back in time. Here, John builds a new life as part of a tribe of protohumans. But the reality of early Africa is much more challenging than his fantasies. With the landscape, the species, and John himself evolving, he reaches a temporal crossroads where he must decide whether the past or the future will be his present.
Top customer reviews
I am amazed at the difference in readability of the various Nebula Award winners. Some are fantastic. Some are mediocre. This is the first one I have run across that I simply cannot finish. It is just plain too boring. I stopped at about 40%, even though I generally try to hit 50% before I give up. I cannot figure out what the story is. There is really only one character who is not well developed despite the author forcing us to jump from his youth to his present (which is in the past) over and over again. Both his childhood and his adulthood are without much interest or story line.
If I can't finish a book, I always give it one star. In this case, I wish it were possible to give it -1.
"No Enemy But Time" is the story of John Monegal, a.k.a. "Joshua Kampa," a contemporary American who can mentally project himself back to pre-human Africa--and eventually also enabled in a scientific experiment to physically visit the scene of his recurrent dreams as well. There, he meets (and eventually mates) with humanity's pre-sapiens hominid ancestors. Alternating chapters of "No Enemy But Time" depict John/"Joshua's" Pleistocene adventures, and flashbacks to his childhood and youth leading up to his time journey.
At age less than 1 in Seville, Spain, John Monegal is abandoned by his mother, a mute, illiterate prostitute and black-marketeer whose clients had included an African-American airman stationed in Spain. He is adopted by a US Air Force officer, Hugo Monegal and his wife Jeanette, then stationed in Spain, and thereafter lives the life of a military brat, constantly moving to his step-parents' successive postings. Since infancy, John recurrently dreams of a prehistoric world, which he corroborates by extensive palaeontological reading, and becomes a self-taught expert on the Pleistocene epoch, the era of "Homo habilis" in Africa. At age 18, John angrily leaves his family when he discovers that his adoptive mother wants to publish a book based on voice records of his dreams, "Eden in His Dreams." Feeling betrayed and used, treated as little more than a source of literary inspiration. he leaves her house, changing his name to Joshua Kampa.
A bit later, working at a dead-end job in Florida, he meets and favorably impresses Alistair Patrick Blair, a world-famous palaeoanthropologist in the Leakey mould visiting Florida on an American tour. Blair, who serves as a cabinet minister in the fictional African country of Zarakal (roughly corresponding to Kenya, according to Michael Bishop's preface), also works closely with a US physicist, Woodrow Kaprow, who has developed a time machine in a top-secret American Air Force project, which can bring John physically back to the era he repeatedly dreams of. The time machine can only work with people like John with a psychic connection with a past period--and can only take one back to that particular past period. Blair and Kaprow's project aims to verify Blair's theories of human origins, thereby also boosting Zarakal's nationalistic claim of being the cradle of Humanity. Joshua agrees to serve as a human guinea pig for their time-travel project, and undergoes rigorous Pleistocene wilderness survival training in Zarakal.
Sent back in body as well as spirit to Pleistocene Arakal in Dr. Kaprow's device, John/Joshua feels he has reached his true home, and is accepted by a "Homo habilis" band living in the African savanna. He gives names to all his new friends, and learns to eat and live like them, becoming accepted as a fellow-tribesman despite his somewhat unusual physical appearance and, at first, his Western clothes. Failing to catch his time-machine's regularly scheduled Pleistocene return visits, Joshua starts thinking he will never get back to the 20th century. After a while he falls in love with a "Habilis" woman, "Helen," who gets pregnant and dies at their daughter's birth. To save his child and let her survive in a better world, Joshua goes back once more to the area of the time machine, where he is mysteriously rescued by two Zarikalian astronauts seemingly coming from the future. Back to his original life, Joshua finds he has lost his dreaming power and learns that only a month in the modern world's time has passed since he left. He thus finds it hard at first to be believed about his daughter: his modern associates cannot believe he had been in the Pleistocene long enough for the baby girl to have been conceived, gestated, and born.
As years pass, Joshua learns his daughter, an attractive young girl of normal human intelligence, has the same dreaming ability he used to have, only she is mentally projected towards the future rather than the prehistoric past. After several years Joshua becomes a minister of the Zarakali government and his 15-year old daughter runs away with an agent from neighboring Uganda, Dirk Aruj, who convinced her to join a program of time travel to the future, in a revival of Blair and Kaprow's experiments.
The book most intrigued me with its portrayal of John/Joshua's relationship with the Pleistocene "Homo habilis" band and especially with the "Habilis" woman he has named "Helen," as he gives names to them all despite their own lack of names. He finds the habilines basically quite human despite their extremely primitive technology, their hairy, beetle-browed appearance, and their lack of a spoken language. He learns to communicate with them in their own quite complex and subtle "language" of gestures, facial expressions, and significant glances, as well as being quite impressed by their wordless but emotionally expressive "songs," and they gradually learn to accept him as one more habiline like themselves. He even tells them stories, though they cannot understand a word he is saying, to convey a mood or feeling.
He also becomes quite attracted to "Helen," despite their physical differences and her lack of a language. They develop a warm, close emotional and sexual relationship, full of real desire and affection, feeling no physical repugnance--and they eventually turn out to be interfertile as well, conceiving a daughter! John/Joshua also does not feel himself missing a close, lively intellectual communion with Helen, though she is certainly no Mme. du Châtelet to his Voltaire, Harriet Taylor to his John Stuart Mill, Ariel Durant to his Will, or Simone De Beauvoir to his Sartre--though that has always been my own personal image of the ideal romantic relationship! But then Joshua was obviously not looking for a female counterpart of Alistair Patrick Blair or Woodrow Karpow! Perhaps Bishop also wanted to portray him as a bit embittered at his adoptive mother's "bluestocking" lifestyle, with too much intellect and literary ambition but not enough feeling or affection!
I also found "No Enemy But Time" suggestively interesting in view of recent research by geneticists Svante Pääbo and David Reich, showing genetic evidence of ancient Homo sapiens interbreeding with Neanderthals and with prehistoric Siberia's "Denisovan" hominins, demonstrating the presence of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA in modern "Homo sapiens" populations. Just how attractive or alluring, I wonder, did our sapiens ancestors find their Neanderthal and Denisovan (or "Homo erectus"," Homo heidelbergensis," "Homo floresiensis," etc.) partners?
It is often very intense, filled with very unusual passages that made me wonder what was really happening, if it was all a dream or real, and that is part of the intrigue leading up to the satisfying conclusion.
This is not your typical time travel novel, where a person goes back in time to change the future. In fact, for most of the novel, the time travel seemed incidental to the story, odd as that may sound, because this novel is about love and acceptance within the family unit and crosses the most unusual of boundaries, sometimes in shocking unexpected ways.
I have to admit, I did not see where this one was going but I'm happy I went along for the adventure. Well written, beautifully structured and well worth the time.