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Manta's Gift Hardcover – September 21, 2002

23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What if James Dean were a twin-tailed manta ray swimming in Jupiter's atmosphere? Bestselling Star Wars novelist Zahn (Angelmass) gives us a tale of teen coming-of-age angst set in the herd society of the Qanska, intelligent herbivores who inhabit the equatorial band of the gas giant. Suspecting them to be non-native life, Earth's corporate masters, the Five Hundred, send in a spy to find their hidden star drive. Facing their own disaster, the Qanska agree, hoping to gain a human perspective on the impending exhaustion of their ecology. What neither side can count on is how the person injected into the Qanskan world will react. Matt Raimey, a 22-year-old paralyzed by a skiing accident, agrees to have his brain transplanted into a Qanska fetus. Given a second chance to be mobile, he also unexpectedly gets another chance to mature. Zahn concentrates more on the psychological processes at work than on the technological. Solutions to problems arise from better emotional and intellectual integrity, not simply larger databases. While the author doesn't get as deep into his characters as they do into Jupiter's depths, his portrayal of Matt/Manta is direct and involving. Qanskan life, looking much like marine reef life on Earth, is intriguingly portrayed, even if the biology of the Qanskan problem is suspect. YA readers looking for more than the usual SF action-adventure should be well pleased. novella in 1984.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The discovery of the Qanska, a race of intelligent creatures resembling mantas or dolphins "swimming" in the atmosphere of Jupiter, provides quadriplegic Matt Rainey with a perfect opportunity to regain a functional body-through implantation in the womb of a Qanska female. The belief that the Qanska possess superior technology, which humanity covets for its own expansion into space, leads to a change in the leadership of the research project on Jupiter. Despite his unwitting violation of the Qanska's most sacred laws, Rainey finds himself the only person capable of preventing disaster for both races. The author of Angelmass brings a new twist to a classic tale of human-alien encounter, combining fast-paced action and hard science with personal drama. A good choice for most sf collections.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (September 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031287829X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312878290
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,797,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Timothy Zahn is the Hugo Award-winning author of more than a dozen original science fiction novels and the bestselling Star Wars trilogy Heir to the Empire, among other works. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Vilbs on February 8, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked up this one at a used book sale at the local library for next to nothing... not because reading the back cover (or the front cover for that matter) grabbed my attention (because they most certainly did NOT), but becuase I knew Timothy Zahn from his work on the Star Wars "Heir to the Empire" trilogy and had really enjoyed his writing. Turns out, it was a very good pickup that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Unlike a lot of contemporary sci-fi, this one actually DOES make an effort at including science into the fiction, and Zahn does incorporate several creative and thought provoking ideas and concepts into the life and ecology of the Jupiter that he creates.... (as odd and implausible as some of those ideas and "science" may be, they should at least make the reader step back and say 'hmmm, interesting'). Zahn succeeds in giving his story an "old school" sci-fi feel to it that a lot of newer entries into the genre seem to be lacking.

For all the science and creativity though, the story really succeeds becuase the characters are interesting and sympathetic, the plot is fast paced and exciting, the book is not easy to "figure out" 200 pages before the finish (i.e. there is suspense), and the writing is sharp and clear. This one MORE than met my expectations, and I'll be hitting more of Zahn's work when the next opportunity presents itself. In my opinion at least, that's pretty high praise for an author, and this book was well worth the read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T on February 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Thankyou Timothy Zahn for such a wonderful book!
One of his most original stories in years, Manta's Gift is about a young man, Matt Raimey (that's the name, right?), who, through an unfortunate skiing accident, becomes paralyzed. He thinks his life is over, until a mysterious man offers him a second chance: be born again as a manta ray-like Qanska.

It follows Raimey being born in an alien womb, all through his younger years, and into adulthood, when he finds out that he was really put there by Earth to spy on the Qanska for some reason (I won't give it away).
Mr. Zahn has created a unique alien species here, even more than in Conquerors' Heritage. What makes it more difficult is that they are so less advanced, and bear no resemblance to humans at all. He had to invent how they moved, what food they ate, their social structure, and their interdependence with their natural predators. It has nothing to do with technology, and a lot more to do with biology. It all seems amazing to me that he did it at all, let alone make it so interesting. Though slightly longer than I expected (in pages), it is very fast-paced, much more than Angelmass. Although that book had its flaws (few as they were), Manta's Gift comes to near perfection.
If I have anything bad to say about this book, it would be that Mr. Zahn left the book open for a possible sequel, then went off to write the Dragonback series (which I am very much looking forward to). Will there ever be a sequel to this excellent book? Even if there isn't, Manta's Gift is a book that should be on any self-respecting sci-fi fan's shelf.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By candr on December 22, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is fine but the editing of the kindle version is appalling. They've obviously just scanned the book with no subsequent proof reading. Throughout there are errors:

- Frequently using "die" instead of "the" and other words you need to interpret from context
- insertion of non-alphanumeric characters ($, ^, etc) at random places in words
- Words running together with no spacing

You'd never forgive this in a printed version and it shouldn't be acceptable in the kindle version.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Edward Alexander Gerster VINE VOICE on October 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Timothy Zahn has an amazing ability of bringing readers' imagination a new gift with every book he writes. "Angelmass" (Tor, 2001) was one of my picks for the best in Science Fiction last year, and "Manta's Gift" certainly did not disappoint me.
Set primarily in the atmosphere of Jupiter, there are some echoes of Robert K. Forward's "Saturn Rukh" but with science focusing more on the biological rather than physics. The fast paced storyline is part mystery, part adventure, and all science fiction--combined in a highly-accessible style. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dressi on July 26, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Well at least that's how I see it. And that's my opinion of it in a very short form. Read my review about Angelmass to see why I think they're similar. But then again I don't see a problem with authors using similar concepts from their own books. Isn't that what you kind of half to do when you're pretty widely written? As well some people might find some similarities between them. Similarities between Icarus Hunt and Survivor's Quest were minute, mainly the mystery aboard a starship.

But anyway, this book was one of my favorites this summer. Of course I've rediscovered reading books. I first discovered reading books (outside of elementary school assignments) by reading Star Wars: Heir to the Empire (Zahn). Well I read every book until the New Jedi Order, then i picked up reading again with Survivor's Quest (Zahn). So I decided to read any Zahn book I came across and this one will always be a favorite.

Why? Becuase of what it does. A person is talked into going into a fairly unfamiliar situation and asked to survive and is given a purpose for doing so. Well this purpose isn't exactly the True reason and this person also eventually ends up having to save this new, unfamiliar place he's been thrust into. (Sounds like Angelmass so far). But this is no Academic Scientist being thrown into enemey territory as a spy to research Angels. This time a paralyzed young man, Raimey, is REBORN as an alien. I may not be widely read but that's a first for me. Then he therefore must live as one, becoming one of them, but at the same time he's essentially human, with many human emotions and ideals. This becomes one of the major conflicts in the book, dealingn with being Qanskan or Human or both at the same time.

Eventually, as one would expect, truths are told. But is it in time?
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