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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Time Travel adventure
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...
Published on 12 Sept. 2006 by Marshall Lord

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Time for Baby
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...
Published on 14 Feb. 2006 by Patrick Shepherd


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Time Travel adventure, 12 Sept. 2006
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mammoth (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.

The main sympathetic human character is Matt Wright, a scientist who specialises in the physics of time and who is brought in by Christian to investigate some peculiar artifacts found with the frozen man. Another sympathetic human character is Susan Morgan, an elephant handler brought in to look after the elephants involved in Christian's attempts to clone the mammoth. Neither Matt nor Susan is a creation in the same league as Varley's best characters such as Sirocco Jones or Gaby, but both are sufficiently well drawn as to make you care about what happens to them. The most interesting characters in the book are the elephants and mammoths, several of whom Varley manages to invest with real but plausible personality.

I doubt if this one will add to Varley's stock of Nebula and Hugo awards, but it does qualify as extremely entertaining and well worth a read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Time for Baby, 14 Feb. 2006
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mammoth (Hardcover)
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'.
Not so good is the basic plot, as it almost seems as if the story line was constructed with Hollywood in mind, with certain scenes just made for 'trailers', and too little work being done to really delve into the paradoxes that time travel (at the macro level) almost necessarily entails, even though such items drive the final resolution of the story. Varley has done much better in this area previously, and this work suffers by comparison with that earlier work and also in comparison to other works that have dealt with time travel, from Heinlein's "All You Zombies" to Asimov's The End of Eternity.
The net is that this is a good entertainment level novel, well written and engaging, with some good insights into the environment of the past, but has little to offer in terms of deeper meaning or any new twists on this type of story.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Primevil meets Jurrasic Park, 17 Nov. 2009
By 
M. Hills (Brighton, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mammoth (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Mammoths Rule!, 12 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Mammoth (Mass Market Paperback)
~ BLURB ~
Not content with investing his fortune and watching it grow, multibillionaire Howard Christian 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 has 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 his 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 more...

Mammoth is a great sci-fi book set in modern time America.

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. The main characters are: Howard Christian, a multibillionaire who often splashes his cash around carelessly before thinking about it, Matt Wright, a multi-millionaire master mathematician who pretty much knows everything there is to know about maths, Susan Morgan, an elephant handler brought in to look after the elephants involved in Christian's attempts to clone the mammoth and Warburton, Christian's right hand man who gets anything done as efficiently as possible for his lazy boss.

The book also contains a little chunk of about two pages at a time between each chapter of the main story, is the tales of a mammoth called Fuzzy from his life and birth in about 10,000 BC to - well, you'll have to read it to see. These parts actually contain interesting factual information about how mammoths survived and interacted with each other in such harsh tundra conditions, so this book will also aid your ice age knowledge as an added bonus.

Matt is a good character that sometimes reminds me of myself, quiet, shy yet intelligent and without him Howard would have no hope of unravelling the mystery of mammoth cloning and why that strange man next to the mammoth exists. Howard on the other hand, appears as a nice but rather shallow and greedy man who you wouldn't be surprised if he didn't suddenly turn into an evil power maniac; nonetheless he controls the project and funds it as well so nothing can go on without his consent. The ex-circus performer elephant expert Susan is a loving, kind woman who is always prepared and not often scared, necessary for the line of work she's now been hired for.

I enjoyed the book because for one woolly mammoths are my favourite animals so I couldn't wait to read it anyway and science fiction books are the kind of books I like as well. The storyline is interesting and often turns out completely unexpected which always makes for a nice surprise now and again. Some weekends I sat down the whole day reading this, like I was glued to it and was reading it while eating and sleeping, and trust me that's something I rarely do since I've got my shiny new ipad which is an entirely different matter...

After reading this book it has made me want to read some more of John Varleys books and other books in general, so it has made quite a positive impact in my day to day life in that sense. This book teaches you to value your friends closest to you and to follow what you think is right.

Great book and would recommend it to others who are interested in similar things, makes for a great read hope you enjoyed my review!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mammoth, 11 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Mammoth (Mass Market Paperback)
Bought this on basis that it was supposed to be one of the 'best' science fiction books of all time. Wasn't disappointed
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5.0 out of 5 stars A mammoth book, 29 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Mammoth (Mass Market Paperback)
Absolutely brilliant book great plot and excellent ending. Such a good read
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Mammoth
Mammoth by John Varley (Mass Market Paperback - 30 May 2006)
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