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An outstanding alternative future, where intelligent dinosaur and man collide. When I bought this novel, I could not put it down. I really mean it, I started to read it one Friday evening, kept going all day Saturday (even when I had stuff to do!) to finish it that night. I tried to put it down, but I couldn't. Toilet breaks and food aside, I spent all day with this book (is that too much detail? What the hey, I'll leave it in). This book must be the best written, researched, and thought about alternative futures ever written. What really impresses is the detail and the authenticity that Harrison brings to this alternative future. Things are so different that it really gets you thinking "what if...", and the story line is infectious, you just have to keep reading. The moment you put it down you start to wonder what's going to happen? It's almost painful to put down! Harrison is a master storyteller. The story involves humans at a stone age/bronze age level, confined to North America. Mammals are abundant, but so are dinosaurs, but of the big and dumb variety. The humans don't like the dinosaurs, they consider them filthy and taboo. Over in Africa and Europe, however, there are no humans, and the dinosaurs have developed intelligence and also a sophisticated culture, far more sophisticated than the human one across the Atlantic. Here is where it gets interesting. The Yilané (they're the dinos) culture that Harrison describes is totally different from any existing even now. Their speech is by means of sound, movement and colour of hands, arms, face and crest. Ability to speak their complex language is their main social determinant, only the best get to fully join society.Read more ›
What if the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs had never hit? Would they eventually become extinct anyway, or would one species become intellegent? Harry Harrison suggests what the world might have been like had the latter come to pass - his intellegent dinosaurs are the dominant species over most of the planet (Eurasia, it's implied). Meanwhile, intellegent mammals (i.e. humans, at the pre-Columbus America level of technology) have arisen in the Americas. The coming of an ice age drives these two intellegences towards each other, and this book is the first tale of their battle for supremacy. The dinosaurs (Yilane) have an interesting technology, based entirely on genetic engineering (and the book was written before it was such a hot topic). Fire is unknown to them (having evolved/lived in tropical rainforests), as is all the associated technology (metallurgy, etc.). Their weapons, houses, even grooming tools are all animals especially bred for these purposes. The Yilane technology, mating habits, social order, and language are very well described and an interesting creation. Most of this is revealed through the eyes of Kerrick, a young boy captured and raised as a Yilane. He is eventually rescued by a hunter-gatherer band of humans and must relearn his roots. The second half of the book revolves around the now adult Kerrick leading the humans in battle against the Yilane. This consists of collecting allies amongst the other tribes, puntuated by short, violent confrontations with the Yilane army. In general the book is well written, and as mentioned, the Yilane are fascinating creations, as are the human tribes and their customs.Read more ›
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Alternate History stories are one of Harry Harrison's favorite subjects. He had already written three trilogies: "The Hammer & the Cross", "Stars & Strips" and the present one "Eden" series. He situates them in very different eras and contexts: Middle Age, Civil War and a world where dinosaurs are the dominant specie.
Harrison is a great narrator, skilled, with a fertile imagination and proposes the reader astounding scenarios. The present one, assumes the extinction of dinosaurs hasn't occurred, so they are the Kings of Creation. Human are very tiny marginal actors, overshadowed by omnipotent dinos. The only reason why they had survived is that they dwell in America far from the Ylane dominions in Eurasia, but this is going to end. The dinos crossed the ocean, forced by a major climatic change and clash with the mammals. One human cub is captured and raised by the Ylane but some years after is freed by a hunting party. Kerrick has been "civilized" by the dinos and is able to unite different scattered human groups to face up the menace. This book and the two that follows tell us the story. Harrison develops an absolutely different civilization: no fire is known to them; technology is based on biology; the Ylane are not able to lie, due to their very special way to communicate among themselves. All this issues implies an enormous amount of imagination to make all details coherent and believable. Harrison also creates different languages for each human group, with their own linguistic structures and provides the reader with an ad-hoc dictionary.
This book may be read as a stand alone story, but if you are hooked as I was, you'll jump to read the next installments! Reviewed by Max Yofre.
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