I read a novel in the late 60s. The premise was that in any society where technology is allowed to develop unchecked, it will self-destruct before social consciousness develops enough to prevent it.

One plot twist is the discovery that, in our distant past, the dinosaurs had feathers not scales and wiped out the planet.

  • 3
    Yet dinosaurs did have feathers. Particularly the remaining ones.
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 1 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


That sounds very much like John McLaughlin's Toolmaker Koan. The Solar System has been watched for a hundred million years by Charon, an ancient supercomputer which is searching for an intelligent race which does not self-destruct by creating tools and weapons and...using them.

It had hopes for T-Rex (which were feathered) which developed a technological civilization about 67 million years ago, but things went very badly and Charon is forced to destroy them -- Chicxulub, anyone? Now Humans are into space and Charon wants to see how they deal with a preserved T-Rex and his spacecraft.

The human's reaction leads Charon to destroy the preserved T-Rex and place its bets on humanity.

Toolmaker Koan

The one hole in this match is that it was published in 1987.

  • 1
    A sadly overlooked novel - as is McLoughlin's other novel, The Helix and the Sword. Oct 2 at 9:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.