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Mammoth [Hardcover]

John Varley
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books (Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441012817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441012817
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,828,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Once upon a time in what would one day come to be known as the month of August, many, many years ago, in a place that would one day be known as Manitoba, a herd of mammoths came over the low hills to the south and into a gentle green valley rich with the scent of water. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Time Travel adventure 12 Sep 2006
By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The quality of John Varley's very best writing is quite out of this world. When he's not at his very best he's still pretty good. This book is very good.

Billionaire Howard Christian, a character who appears to be loosely based on Howard Hughes but makes him look normal, has been seeking to clone a mammoth. His agents find a superb specimen which has been well preserved in frozen ice for 12,000 years and start digging it out to begin the process. Then they find beside the mammoth the frozen bodies of a man and a woman who also appear to have been there for 12,000 years - but the man is wearing a wristwatch and holding an unusual artifact.

That is only the start of some seriously weird events. The plot has a lot of twists and turns, some of which the reader may see coming but most of which probably won't turn out in quite the way you expect.

Interspersed in the text, with a little chunk of about two pages at a time between each chapter of the main narrative, is the story of a mammoth called Fuzzy from his conception and birth in about 10,000 BC to - well, you'll have to read it to see.

Character development in the book is fairly good, although Varley has done better. Howard Christian is a very strange individual who has lots of obsessions and you keep wondering if he is going to flip over to outright evil. His chief fixer is a man called Warburton who might have been interesting to explore in more depth but appears in most of the book as a shadowy figure who organises whatever Christian wants done. At the very end of the story Warburton takes on a bit more personality, as does Christian's filmstar girlfriend, Andrea de la Terre.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Time for Baby 14 Feb 2006
Sometimes scientific advances are pushed into being by people who have no real interest in the science itself, but rather have an agenda of their own, often based on crass materialism, that drives the research as merely a sidelight to that goal. This book helps illustrate that point, as we find Howard Christian trying to develop a modern day version of a mammoth via DNA cloning, but in looking for source DNA material stumbles across not only a frozen mammoth, but a frozen man right beside it wearing a wristwatch and with a briefcase that just might be a time machine.
Howard hires mathematician Matt Wright, who has some new ideas in the area of time travel, to fix and/or duplicate that machine. Wright's investigation into the machine's operation eventually leads to a real trip back in time, for himself and Susan Morgan, an elephant handler who was hired by Christian to handle the result of the DNA cloning effort. The result of that trip, and the mayhem it does to modern Los Angeles, forms the balance of this story.
Each of the three characters is fairly well delineated, more than well enough to carry the story and drive the conflict. But there is a fourth character, a baby mammoth, whose story is told separately in interstitial chapters (styled as a young children's story), that actually may be the best portion of this book, as through this story the past of 15,000 years ago comes alive - the described environment, animals, climate, and behaviors of the mammoth herd all contribute to a sense of 'being there'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Primevil meets Jurrasic Park 17 Nov 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you read the blurb on the back you think you can guess the plot. You'd be wrong.
A dead mammoth, a millionaire and a time machine, could make for a silly romp, but of course John Varley is too good an author not to come up with something more thoughtful than that. The science is accurate as always and he obviously knows a lot about mammoths.
The exciting story line and well rounded characters keep you hooked to the very end.
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