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I read a trilogy written I think in the 1970s about a man on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. Somehow he travels back to prehistoric times when there was still a land wall blocking out the Atlantic ocean. All of the Mediterranean area was still dry land.

I cannot remember, the name of the series or the author or any of the titles. Does anyone recognize this premise?

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Did the sea flood during the story, or was it an event still in the future? Do you recall the cover art?
    – DavidW
    Feb 1 at 3:49
  • I believe "The Many-Colored Land" by Julian May included a dry Mediterranean sea six million years in the past, but there was no cruise ship in that novel. Feb 1 at 3:53
  • @StanleyWebb That's one reason I asked the questions I did; the inundation is a major plot point and the Whelan covers are very memorable.
    – DavidW
    Feb 1 at 3:55
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    Fun fact: an empty dry Mediterranean Sea was actually a possible future in the early 20th century, rather than a prehistoric past.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Feb 1 at 15:50
  • 1
    Reminds me of that one XKCD
    – Arthur
    Feb 2 at 13:00

3 Answers 3

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This is almost certainly Randall Garrett's Gandalara Cycle (which is actually seven books, but was later republished in three volumes). The first volume The Steel of Raithskar was published in 1981.

The last thing terminally ill language professor Ricardo Carillo remembers is standing on the deck of a Mediterranean cruise ship, watching a giant fireball hurtle toward him. He awakens in the body of a young Gandalaran named Markasset, sharing a telepathic bond with a giant, intelligent feline named Keeshah.

  • The Steel of Raithskar (1981)
  • The Glass of Dyskornis (1982)
  • The Bronze of Eddarta (1983)
  • The Well of Darkness (1983)
  • The Search for Kä (1984)
  • Return to Eddarta (1985)
  • The River Wall (1986)
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It could be The Many Coloured Land by Julian May. To (lazily) quote Wikipedia:

The Many-Colored Land is a science fiction novel by American author Julian May, published in 1981. It is the first book of the Saga of Pliocene Exile (known as the Saga of the Exiles in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth). The novel sets the series up by introducing the story of each of the characters. The main purpose of the book is to provide information for the rest of the series, only beginning the main storyline in its final part.

It is very briefly about humans being sent back some 5 million years in time when they meet the psychic Tanu and Firvulags.

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This isn't a great match for the description, but I'll mention Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus.

In Pastwatch, a group of historians has a machine which allows them to view events from any point in the past. They use the machine to research historical events.

One passage in the story involves the "truth" about the great flood story from Genesis. The organization finds that the great flood myth is based on the flooding of the Mediterranean basin when the seawall collapsed. They found that a young man was on walkabout--a tradition of his tribe--and discovered that the seawall was on the verge of collapsing. He returned to his tribe and got them to build a boat to save themselves. This person became Noah of the biblical story.

The flood story doesn't figure further in Pastwatch. The main plot of the book focuses on a different historical event. The Pastwatch historians don't originally have the ability to travel to the past.

Later in the book, they discover that someone from the future had interfered with the events of Columbus sailing west and discovering America. They figure out how to send objects into the past themselves, and use that ability to make further changes to that point in history.

Apparently Card originally planned to write additional Pastwatch books, but realized a fatal flaw: The events of the first book would change the future so significantly that the Pastwatch organization would no longer exist.

One of the later Pastwatch books apparently would have been about the great flood. Card separately published a more-or-less standalone short story named Atlantis which talks about Pastwatch and the flood story in more detail. The story talks about the Pastwatch researcher who studies the event, along with "Noag", the historical person who discovered the flood was about to occur. I found a copy of Atlantis online here.

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