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Mammoth Mass Market Paperback – May 30, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. When eccentric megabillionaire Howard Christian commissions a hunt for a frozen mammoth in northern Manitoba to clone a new model in Varley's rollicking, bittersweet tale of time travel and ecology, he gets more than he bargained for: next to the 12,000-year-old beast his team unearths lies the body of a human being, wearing a wristwatch, with a metal box—a time machine?—nearby. Christian hires Matt Wright, Canada's top scientist on the physics of time, to fix the machine, and employs elephant vet Susan Morgan to oversee the cloning of a new mammoth. The machine hurls Matt and Susan back to the mammoth age, then forward again, along with a baby Columbian woolly mammoth, Fuzzy, whose engaging story cleverly alternates with Christian's indefatigable quest for personal fame. Varley's sparkling wit pulls one surprise after another out of this unconventional blend of science and social commentary with real people convincingly doing unreal things. Fuzzy, though, is the true hero, an irresistible 15-foot-tall reminder of the wonders of nature and imagination. The winner of numerous Hugo and Nebula awards, Varley (Millennium) should garner new laurels with this outstanding effort. <
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Over the past three decades, Varley has won almost every SF award. Called "The New Heinlein" and described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "a far better science fiction writer than [Michael] Crichton," Varley has written a captivating time-travel thriller. Although he delves deeply into scientific and metaphysical principles, Varley never loses sight of his characters, who, like the engaging baby mammoth Fuzzy, keep the book alive. Besides its great humor, intelligent prose, spiritual discovery, and great emotional range, critics also praised the novels clever structure: it begins with chapter five. "The result," writes Shaun Farrell, "is a unique piece of work: a book that makes you think critically while keeping it enjoyable and fun."
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Read Mammoth, do NOT read Millennium. Will not be reading any other Varley books. Hope this is helpful to someone.
I read this many years ago, so I didn't feel confident answering the questions about violence and sexual content, just in case. However, I'm pretty sure that I bought this paper copy as a gift for a niece or nephew of DH after I'd read the book myself, so from that I'd imagine it's quite tame and appropriate for mixed audiences. Hope so, anyway. OTOH, I don't know whether we actually gave the gift in the end: I think we bought extra gifts that year.
What I do remember is that I really enjoyed this book, which is why I thought to get a copy for a Christmas gift. In fact, I am glad that I ran across this order and wrote this review; maybe I'll see if there is anything else by John Varley that looks appealing.
Multi-billionaire Howard Christian wants to clone a mammoth. His expedition to the Canadian Arctic yields a mammoth carcass, all right, but even more surprising is the frozen man alongside, wearing a wrist watch and clutching a metal briefcase. The briefcase may or may not be a time machine. Christian, a brilliant inventor in his own right, hires young physics genius Matt Wright to create a functional time machine. Wright falls for young elephant vet and would-be mammoth trainer Susan Morgan. All of those geniuses and no one stops to wonder about who the corpsicle might be. Until it is too late.
Varley is a very good writer. He deftly changes the reader's perception of Howard Christian over the course of the novel. By the time we see Christian lurking in his armed fortress, 200 stories over the streets of Los Angeles, armed with a gigawatt laser; well, I certainly knew who might not be the good guy, benevolent billionaire after all.
My own opinion is that beginning with "Red Thunder" - or perhaps even "The Golden Globe" - Varley has consciously set up to do homages to Heinlein's juvenile science fiction novels of the 1950's. Varely's last two or three books are uncannily similar in tone, if not plot and characterization, to stories like "Red Planet" and "Rocket Ship Galileo." While Pratchett may have mercilessly parodied the "artifact from the future" - along with most other science fiction tropes - in "Strata," Varley demonstrates there are good yarns left in the themes Heinlein explored half a century or more ago.
I particularly enjoyed another Heinlein reference - "The Man Who Travelled in Elephants" - to which Varley gives the sly wink. A lot of references in "Mammoth" will Reward the Careful Reader.
This isn't the wildly imaginative John Varley of the Gaea trilogy, but read as a tribute or homage to other, earlier writers, this novel is still fun. If you haven't read the earlier writers who have explored the ideas underlying "Mammoth," this novel might be more exciting. But you'd be missing half of the pleasure.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm sure that if they ever make a movie of this, some executive will want the story changed so that the time traveler...Read more