Lest Darkness Fall - L. Sprague de Camp - 1975 Ballantine Books Paperback - Darrell K. Sweet Cover

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Publisher Blurb: “When am I? Padway asked himself after the lightning-flash knocked him down. He knew where he was--Rome. He was there to study archaeology, and even though the lightning had left him dazed, he could see the familiar Roman buildings. But the buildings looked newer and the crowds in the street were wearing tunics, not suits! And a rich barnyard smell had replaced the gasoline-and-garlic aroma of modern Rome. So, when was he? And he was suddenly cold with fear of the answer…”

“Lest Darkness Fall is similar in concept to Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, but the treatment is very different.”

Important Takeaway: “Jo Walton wrote, "In 1939, L. Sprague de Camp came up with one of the wonderful ideas of science fiction, the man taken out of his time to a time of lower technology... As soon as Padway's there, he puts his head down and starts to concentrate on what makes these books such fun—improvising technology from what he knows and can find around him. Padway starts with distilling and double-entry bookkeeping and makes his way up to newspapers and heliographs... The more you know history, the more you can see how clever the book is... De Camp was a historian of technology. His The Ancient Engineers (1963) is a... fascinating non-fiction book." Stating that it "is an excellent introduction to Rome at the time of the Gothic invasion", Carl Sagan in 1978 listed Lest Darkness Fall as an example of how science fiction "can convey bits and pieces, hints and phrases, of knowledge unknown or inaccessible to the reader".