I wonder how much my copy of the Principia Discordia will be worth in ten years....
52 book challenge: Book 12, John Varley's MAMMOTH
You just have to type that all in capital letters. MAMMOTH!!!!. (like PIKE!!!!, tanaise, only not red).
I wanted to love this book much more than I did.
I loved the flip narrative voice, and the excerpts from Children's Propaganda Book Little Fuzzy, and the characters were well-drawn though I did not bond with any of them. The mad shoplifting millionaire, the socially awkward soopergenius, the impulsive elephant handler. I wanted more of the Actual Mammoth--since the resolution hinges on me-as-reader loving Fuzzy, I wanted more Fuzzy to love.
The prose is plain, but often note-perfect. The characters are all madmen. And I mean that in a good way--they are classic, Varleyesque madmen, driven in weird and wonderful ways. But the characterization wasn't as deep as I expect from Varley.
And the plot didn't quite come together for me. It lacks some of the Varleyesque baroqueness that I love so very much, and while there's a clever presto chango time travel paradox bit at the end, I felt it was all, somehow, strangely, both a little too random and a little too pat. It seemed like bits of two different novels had been grafted together to make one, and the whole was... sort of insufficiently integrated.
I almost feel that this was a book written and aimed at the techno-thriller audience... and I'm not a techno-thriller reader, generally, which is probably why I felt slightly let down. Still, it wasn't bad at all. I liked it, liked large chunks of it a great deal... I just didn't fall in love with it the way I did Steel Beach or the Gaia books.
I was also disappointed that the narrative abandoned Big Mama and the six time-displaced elephants. I wanted to know what happened to them--which means he engaged me successsfully.
On the other hand, everything--and I mean everything--is better with mammoths.
Just sign me hard to please.