Robert Sawyer: Just Like Old Times

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Robert Sawyer Just Like Old Times
  • Название:
    Just Like Old Times
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Copper Pig Writers' Society
  • Жанр:
    Фантастика и фэнтези / на английском языке
  • Год:
    1993
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Just Like Old Times: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

Предлагаем к чтению аннотацию, описание, краткое содержание или предисловие (зависит от того, что написал сам автор книги «Just Like Old Times»). Если вы не нашли необходимую информацию о книге — напишите в комментариях, мы постараемся отыскать её.

Commissioned for the anthology , edited by Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg (DAW, 1993); first published in On Spec: The Canadian Magazine of Speculative Writing, Summer 1993. Later it was reprinted in several anthologies including On Spec: , , and . In 2008 it was included in collection (1 edition Quarry Press, January 2002). Winner of both the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Award (“the Aurora”) for Best English-Language Short Story of 1993 and the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story of 1993.

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Just Like Old Times

by Robert J. Sawyer

The transference went smoothly, like a scalpel slicing into skin.

Cohen was simultaneously excited and disappointed. He was thrilled to be here—perhaps the judge was right, perhaps this was indeed where he really belonged. But the gleaming edge was taken off that thrill because it wasn’t accompanied by the usual physiological signs of excitement: no sweaty palms, no racing heart, no rapid breathing. Oh, there was a heartbeat, to be sure, thundering in the background, but it wasn’t Cohen’s.

It was the dinosaur’s.

Everything was the dinosaur’s: Cohen saw the world now through tyrannosaur eyes.

The colors seemed all wrong. Surely plant leaves must be the same chlorophyll green here in the Mesozoic, but the dinosaur saw them as navy blue. The sky was lavender; the dirt underfoot ash gray.

Old bones had different cones, thought Cohen. Well, he could get used to it. After all, he had no choice. He would finish his life as an observer inside this tyrannosaur’s mind. He’d see what the beast saw, hear what it heard, feel what it felt. He wouldn’t be able to control its movements, they had said, but he would be able to experience every sensation.

The rex was marching forward.

Cohen hoped blood would still look red.

It wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t red.


“And what, Ms. Cohen, did your husband say before he left your house on the night in question?”

“He said he was going out to hunt humans. But I thought he was making a joke.”

“No interpretations, please, Ms. Cohen. Just repeat for the court as precisely as you remember it, exactly what your husband said.”

“He said, `I’m going out to hunt humans.’”

“Thank you, Ms. Cohen. That concludes the Crown’s case, my lady.”


The needlepoint on the wall of the Honourable Madam Justice Amanda Hoskins’s chambers had been made for her by her husband. It was one of her favorite verses from The Mikado, and as she was preparing sentencing she would often look up and re-read the words:

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time—
To let the punishment fit the crime—
The punishment fit the crime.

This was a difficult case, a horrible case. Judge Hoskins continued to think.


It wasn’t just colors that were wrong. The view from inside the tyrannosaur’s skull was different in other ways, too.

The tyrannosaur had only partial stereoscopic vision. There was an area in the center of Cohen’s field of view that showed true depth perception. But because the beast was somewhat wall-eyed, it had a much wider panorama than normal for a human, a kind of saurian Cinemascope covering 270 degrees.

The wide-angle view panned back and forth as the tyrannosaur scanned along the horizon.

Scanning for prey.

Scanning for something to kill.


The Calgary Herald, Thursday, October 16, 2042, hardcopy edition:

Serial killer Rudolph Cohen, 43, was sentenced to death yesterday.

Formerly a prominent member of the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Cohen was convicted in August of thirty-seven counts of first-degree murder.

In chilling testimony, Cohen had admitted, without any signs of remorse, to having terrorized each of his victims for hours before slitting their throats with surgical implements.

This is the first time in eighty years that the death penalty has been ordered in this country.

In passing sentence, Madam Justice Amanda Hoskins observed that Cohen was “the most cold-blooded and brutal killer to have stalked Canada’s prairies since Tyrannosaurus rex…”


From behind a stand of dawn redwoods about ten meters away, a second tyrannosaur appeared. Cohen suspected tyrannosaurs might be fiercely territorial, since each animal would require huge amounts of meat. He wondered if the beast he was in would attack the other individual.

His dinosaur tilted its head to look at the second rex, which was standing in profile. But as it did so, almost all of the dino’s mental picture dissolved into a white void, as if when concentrating on details the beast’s tiny brain simply lost track of the big picture.

At first Cohen thought his rex was looking at the other dinosaur’s head, but soon the top of other’s skull, the tip of its muzzle and the back of its powerful neck faded away into snowy nothingness. All that was left was a picture of the throat. Good, thought Cohen. One shearing bite there could kill the animal.

The skin of the other’s throat appeared gray-green and the throat itself was smooth. Maddeningly, Cohen’s rex did not attack. Rather, it simply swiveled its head and looked out at the horizon again.

In a flash of insight, Cohen realized what had happened. Other kids in his neighborhood had had pet dogs or cats. He’d had lizards and snakes—cold-blooded carnivores, a fact to which expert psychological witnesses had attached great weight. Some kinds of male lizards had dewlap sacks hanging from their necks. The rex he was in—a male, the Tyrrell paleontologists had believed—had looked at this other one and seen that she was smooth-throated and therefore a female. Something to be mated with, perhaps, rather than to attack.

Perhaps they would mate soon. Cohen had never orgasmed except during the act of killing. He wondered what it would feel like.


“We spent a billion dollars developing time travel, and now you tell me the system is useless?”

“Well—”

“That is what you’re saying, isn’t it, professor? That chronotransference has no practical applications?”

“Not exactly, Minister. The system does work. We can project a human being’s consciousness back in time, superimposing his or her mind overtop of that of someone who lived in the past.”

“With no way to sever the link. Wonderful.”

“That’s not true. The link severs automatically.”

“Right. When the historical person you’ve transferred consciousness into dies, the link is broken.”

“Precisely.”

“And then the person from our time whose consciousness you’ve transferred back dies as well.”

“I admit that’s an unfortunate consequence of linking two brains so closely.”

“So I’m right! This whole damn chronotransference thing is useless.”

“Oh, not at all, Minister. In fact, I think I’ve got the perfect application for it.”


The rex marched along. Although Cohen’s attention had first been arrested by the beast’s vision, he slowly became aware of its other senses, too. He could hear the sounds of the rex’s footfalls, of twigs and vegetation being crushed, of birds or pterosaurs singing, and, underneath it all, the relentless drone of insects. Still, all the sounds were dull and low; the rex’s simple ears were incapable of picking up high-pitched noises, and what sounds they did detect were discerned without richness. Cohen knew the late Cretaceous must have been a symphony of varied tone, but it was as if he was listening to it through earmuffs.

The rex continued along, still searching. Cohen became aware of several more impressions of the world both inside and out, including hot afternoon sun beating down on him and a hungry gnawing in the beast’s belly.

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