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While John Varley is truly a great SF writer this is among his weaker efforts. It is not that bad, maybe a 7 out of 10 for most writers, biggest knock is the book starts slow. To the readers whom think its terrible I don't get that myself and I am hyper-critical . If you enjoyed other Varley titles you will enjoy this one.
It wasn't terrible but I just found the characters to be detached from what was going on. Like for example two of the characters are thrown completely into a new and hostile environment. Instead of acting like humans thrown in a dangerous situation they decide to consummate their love for one another... out in the open, where they were concerned about predators just hours earlier. I really enjoyed when the author described how the time machine worked and the exploration of events in time.
This is one of the worst books I've ever tried to read. I was prepared to suspend my disbelief and enjoy a light sci-fi novel of time travel, cloning, and mammoths (who doesn't like a good mammoth story), but I made it to page 125 and had to quit before I sacrificed too much of the precious time I have left on this Earth. I don't have issue with the plot--it is science fiction, after all, and many implausible things have occurred in the spin of a good yarn--but the writing was awful and the characters ridiculous. Bad one-liners, cartoonish villains, and protagonists with the emotional appeal of oatmeal create a perfect storm of awful literature. Highlights included American jingoism and absurd, sexist lines "written" by a female character. I will be returning this book to the library before my IQ decreases further and borrowing some Kazuo Ishiguro instead.
Also: Varley obviously didn't consult a map before he wrote this, because Nunavut is a territory, not a province. Sheesh!
Mammoth. --- by. --- John Varley. Opening scene. Somewhere in the subarctic of northern Manitoba, scientists has found the body of a wooly mastodon, preserved in the permafrost. Nothing too strange about that --- it happens all the time. But here's where it gets wired. Next to the mastodon there's this frozen man and he's wearing a wrist watch. Bet the Timex wrist watch people hadn't thought of that stunt for their TV commercials: "it takes a 12,000 year liking and it keeps on ticking. Science fiction. About mastodons. And time travel. Sometimes wonder if there are any grown ups (like me?) who read books like these or whether they are the domain of precocious, awkward teenagers. After all, the protagonist of this tale is one of these precocious teenagers. Very precocious: he went to university when he was twelve. Varley's style has a certain flavor of Heinlein to it: sparse and fast paced. Character development is not what it's about. It's about the story line: that's what's developed. Barley plays with some interesting ideas; the paradoxes time travel can get wrapped up with. So, .... precocious adolescents and sci-fi fans of indeterminate vintage --- read on. No rocket ships; no green aliens; just mastodons and a Google read. Really..
So,really, where do you hide a baby mastodon?
The ending, well it is kinda bitter-sweet.
Local author John Varley (Eugene, OR) delivers another fast-paced fun story. While the "science" side of this sci-fi novel is not particularly strong, it is still really interesting if not thought-provoking. Don't expect the Eight World universe in this one, but if you're a fan of Varley in general this is another solid addition to his collection.
&quot;Multibillionaire Howard Christian is one of the wealthiest -- and most eccentric -- men in the country. Not content with investing his fortune and watching it grow, he buys rare cars that he actually drives, acquires collectible toys that he actually plays with, and builds buildings that defy the imagination. But now his restless mind had turned to a new obsession: cloning a mammoth... In a barren province of Canada, a mammoth hunter financed by Christian has made the discovery of a lifetime: an intact frozen woolly mammoth. But what he finds during the painstaking process of excavating the huge creature baffles the mind. Huddled next to the mammoth is the mummified body of a Stone Age man around 12,000 years old. And he is wearing a wristwatch. It looks like Howard Christian is going to get his wish -- and much more...&quot; I found this to be a really good human interest story. It's a what if kind of story also. I was a little confused by the way the chapters are numbered but it made sense at the end. It's an interesting story about what could happen if time travel was possible. I found Howard to be a rather unlikeable character for most of the book but later find myself wondering about his life. There was some interesting science presented regarding prehistoric life in North America and the people and animals who lived there at the time.
Science Fiction novel about about travel back in time and bringing back accidently a couple of mammoths. One of the main characters in the book deals with her conscious about letting the mammoths live a free life instead of being caged up. Alot of information about the universe including quantum mechanics, string theory etc. Nice read.