Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review: Mammoth

     Okay, change of plans (sort of). The last time I read a book that was not written by John Varley (The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick) was in early January, too far back for me to write an insightful review, so this year's theme is now officially "John Varley." Next year I promise I will excercise a little more organization!

Review: Mammoth




Series: None
Sequel: N/A
Prequel: N/A
Main Character(s): Adults Matt Wright and Susan Morgan

Official Short Description: Not content with investing his fortune and watching it grow, multibillionaire Howard Christian buys rare cars that he actually drives, acquires collectible toys that he actually plays with, and builds buildings that defy the imagination. But now his restless mind has turned to a new obsession: cloning a mammoth…
In a barren province of Canada, a mammoth hunter financed by Christian has made the discovery of a lifetime: an intact frozen woolly mammoth. But what he finds during the painstaking process of excavating the huge creature baffles the mind. Huddled next to the mammoth is the mummified body of a Stone Age man around 12,000 years old. And he is wearing a wristwatch.
It looks like Howard Christian is going to get his wish—and more…

My Favorite Element(s)
Obviously, not all of John Varley's works are the same, or I would have a hard time reviewing four of them in a month. While Mammoth does have the realism that characterizes Varley's style (which I discussed in conjunction with Red Lightning), it is a deeper book than those in the "Red Thunder" series, and discusses at length topics such as time travel, religion, God(s), physics, higher dimensions, and the limits of science. While a degree in higher mathematics is not necessary to understand or enjoy Mammoth, someone with no interest in the above topics may find it difficult to get through the lengthy conversations and debates surrounding them (Matt Wright is, after all, a professional physicist). These people may enjoy the Applied Phlebotinum style that characterizes the science in Red Lightning.
In a strange sort of juxtaposition with its weightier elements, Mammoth is also one of the more humorous of John Varley's books: one of the main characters (albeit a mammoth) is named "Fuzzy," and is pressed into show buisness by Howard Christian (see above), then liberated by an eco-warrior in a gambit that involves replacing the mammoth with a life-sized robotic replica.

Main Genres: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Thriller, Mystery
My Age-Appropriateness Rating is  13+ , Based On occasional violence and relatively frequent sexuality
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