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Mammoth Mass Market Paperback – 30 May 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 341 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Reprint edition (30 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044101335X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441013357
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.3 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 757,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"John Varley is the best writer in America."--Tom Clancy

"[A] rollicking, bittersweet tale of time travel and ecology...Varley's sparkling wit pulls one surprise after another out of this unconventional blend of science and social commentary."--Publishers Weekly

"Terrific...H. G. Wells meets Jurassic Park."--The Best Reviews

"[An] imaginative and engaging . . . writer . . . Varley is in top form."--San Francisco Chronicle

John Varley is the best writer in America. Tom Clancy

[A] rollicking, bittersweet tale of time travel and ecology Varley s sparkling wit pulls one surprise after another out of this unconventional blend of science and social commentary. Publishers Weekly

Terrific H. G. Wells meets Jurassic Park. The Best Reviews

[An] imaginative and engaging . . . writer . . . Varley is in top form. San Francisco Chronicle

"

About the Author

John Varley is the author of the Gaean Trilogy (Titan, Wizard, and Demon), Steel Beach, The Golden Globe, Red Thunder, and Mammoth. He has won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his work.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Despite a lifetime reading Sci-Fi, I’d never found the time to read any John Varley. Given this book, it’s hard to believe I’ve missed anything.

Rather than the rollicking adventure I’d expect of an author compared- absurdly on the strength of this volume- to Heinlein, I found a Dan Brown novel with all the hard edges knocked off and bowdlerised for a teenage audience.

Stereotypical and two-dimensional are about as polite as one can be about the “characters”, and quite large sections of the book just become rather laughable. There is one decent passage towards the end about one character’s antics in the past, but even this is filled with rather sad moralising.

There is, it is true, a bit of come-uppance about the whole thing, but the time-travel when it pops up seems to be used to reinvigorate a dying plot rather than as an integral part of it. Time loops and paradoxes are used the same way. Given the opportunity, quite a let-down.

Like Dan Brown, unchallenging airport and flight reading, but nothing else. I can’t say I don’t like it, but it’s certainly not terribly good. Three stars is probably a half star generous, and as everyone knows, I’m a pushover.
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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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By Patrick Shepherd TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Feb. 2006
Format: 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'.
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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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