is a science fiction novel
written by Robert Silverberg
. The novel is an expanded version of a short story first published in Galaxy Science Fiction
in 1967; the novel was published in 1968. It was released in the United Kingdom
under the title The Anvil of Time
Hawksbill Station is a penal colony
in the pre-Cambrian era
created by the authoritarian United States
government, using time travel
as a means to exile rebels and political dissidents into the past. The colony houses only male exiles (a female settlement supposedly exists even farther in the past), who are sent there as a "humane" alternative to execution. The machine only works one way, so the prisoners are hopelessly marooned in the past.
The distant prison is in a barren coastal area prior to the colonization of land by sophisticated life, and evokes a Tsarist Siberia
or a Soviet Gulag
. The personal relationship of the main character, the de facto
leader of the colony, and both his government torturer/prosecutor and Dr. Hawksbill, each of whom had been members of the dissidence movement, as well as explication of the picayune ideological differences among the prisoners, and the confused circumstances leading to the establishment of the authoritarian government, further parallel Russian history.
As the novel opens, the prisoners, all of them middle-aged or elderly, are surprised by the arrival via the time machine of a much younger prisoner. Their surprise increases when... Read More