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Wildside Mass Market Paperback – January 15, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A suspenseful example of an emerging subgenre, the homage to Heinlein's young adult fiction, this novel will satisfy readers of all ages. Eighteen-year-old Charlie Newell has inherited a ranch from Uncle Max, who is missing, presumed dead. Hidden behind a pile of old hay in the barn is a tunnel that doesn't lead to the airstrip but to a pristine, uninhabited parallel Texas stocked with extinct megafauna. Charlie recruits four friends to help him exploit the wild side of his ranch, but the project becomes wilder than they expect, and they find themselves in danger not from saber-toothed tigers, but from their fellow Americans.

From Publishers Weekly

With adept storytelling, Gould, in his second novel (after the well-received Jumper, 1993), weaves the tale of Charles Newell, who discovers a gateway on his late uncle's farmland that leads to a "parallel" earth that is an ecological paradise of extinct species and lands unmarred by human presence. Charlie, who narrates, captures some passenger pigeons that he sells to major zoos and conservancy groups for a small fortune intended as seed capital for his master plan: to drill the alternate earth for its untouched gold. To help in this venture, Charlie reveals his secret to four of his friends, recent high-school graduates all. Working together, the five learn to pilot planes; but in time, their alliance and friendships are tested. The stakes become increasingly higher as well, climaxing in the arrival of government operatives. Ultimately, the financial considerations of the gateway prove no more important to Charlie or his pals than ecological and familial concerns. Adolescent readers will identify with the young heroes and heroines here, while older ones will be charmed by a yarn in which even the evil characters are intelligent and clever. Several loose ends cry to be tied up in a sequel; hopefully, Gould will oblige.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction (January 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812523989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812523980
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was another great book from an author with a rapidly expanding fan base. The story was excellent, the characters were well developed, and the main character, Charlie, was just as much a unique indivudual as Gould's hero from Jumper, without being a carbon copy of the character. The story itself is fast-moving and it's hard to put the book down once you've begun.

As the synopsis says, the hero, Charlie, discovers a portal in an old barn that leads into an alternate earth; an earth where humans never existed. Actually, it's not proven that there are no humans anywhere -- it doesn't matter to the story and the main character doesn't explore the entire world -- but it appears there aren't.

Charlie hatches a scheme to use this portal for fun and profit, but to do so he needs to enlist the help of some friends. So the group establishes a base on the far side of the portal - the wild side - and gets to work. Though it seems as if the story of setting up a base in a humanless environment would be dull, Gould is able to tell even this with a writing style that compells the reader to continue. The logistical element is used in large part for character development, as we see the dynamic of the group of friends and watch them progress in their lives even as the story progresses.

In his realistic if somewhat cynical fashion, the writer does not allow Charlie's actions to go unnoticed by the government, and they decide to get involved, which creates a building conflict between the heroes and the government which infuses the story with a sense of urgency and suspense.

In his previous book, Jumper, Gould used teleportation as a device to further the plot, never fully explaining the reasons behind it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Those who have read Heinlein's "juveniles" will recogonize the format immediately. Take a group of old-teen-young-adults, drop them into a very dangerous situation where they have absolutely no support system from the mainstream adult world, and let them solve their problems (technical and otherwise) through intelligence and bold action. Then reunite them with their parents so that both parents and kids recognize that the kids have "come of age" and are now successfully independent adults.

However, the book is not just an imitation. Nor is it an homage. It seems to me a reinterpretation of the same themes and concepts Heinlein used to write about, but updated for the turn of the century rather than the 1950s.

The book was well written and kept me reading it late into the night, but a couple parts of it seemed to be just a little too "angsty". Fortunately the author pulled back from that just in time to keep it from bogging down the story. The book is squarely targeted at teens, but is enjoyable for adults as well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is really close to a 5-star for me. The first 60% of the book definitely was. As usual, I loved the world building and wasn't sure about how the author chose to wrap things up.

Charlie Newell inherits his uncle's farm after graduating high school, and discovers a portal to another version of Earth, one where it seems like humans have never evolved. He recruits his friends to explore the world and make themselves rich while learning more about it. At the same time, Charlie is very careful not to expose the world to outsiders, having a healthy fear of what the government would do if they discovered it.

It just so happens that Charlie is a pilot, and so after selling a few extinct pigeons to raise some cash (really!) he sets out to explore the new world via airplane. He sets up a base on the other side, the "wild side." I loved the meticulous planning that went into setting up bases and reaching his destination (gold-filled rivers of Colorado) through a series of steps.

But of course, something this good can't stay a secret forever, and once they are discovered, things get crazy quickly. Overall a really good book, with a great first half and solid wrap-up, even if it couldn't sustain greatness the whole way through
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Charlie and his small group of friends have a secret. In the barn on a farm left to him by his missing and presumed dead uncle is a very special door, a door to another earth, the Wildside. An earth where man never evolved! So what would a group of teenagers do with such a secret? Why go for the gold naturally! After all no there are no men, therefore there's all the gold in them thar hills just waiting to be scooped up. The problem is they're in Texas and the gold is in California so what do you do? Simple, fly!
Wildside is a fun story, although not very believable (forget about the inter-dimensional travel how about two kids, 18 years old, getting certified as airplane mechanics is less that 4 weeks!) But does it have to be believable to a good, enjoyable read? I don't think so. Quell your stunned disbelief and let the story take you for a ride. It is a relatively unique plot with strong, well-developed characters. Explore with them a Texas without man and root for them against a government willing to do just about anything to get the secret of Wildside.
It's one that I have read more than once and have enjoyed it every time. For certain I RECOMMEND it for anyone looking for a relatively quick, uncomplicated but thoroughly enjoyable read.
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