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West of Eden (Panther Books) by Harry…
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West of Eden (Panther Books) (edition 1985)

by Harry Harrison

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1,0611812,037 (3.64)27
Member:mpettitt
Title:West of Eden (Panther Books)
Authors:Harry Harrison
Info:Grafton (1985), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:science fiction

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West of Eden by Harry Harrison

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English (17)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This was a great satisfying read overall. The ONLY quibble I have is the first 100 pages. You are dropped into a reptilian culture immediately with no preparation for the reader. The culture and its language is unknown and you are left to puzzle out what is going on.... it is confusing and if I did not give it 100 pages I might have given up on the book.

Unknown to me at the time was there was a detailed description of this culture at-the-end of the book. I am not the type of reader that looks to the end of the book first. By the time I got there I was familiar with everything and it was superfluous as far as I was concerned. I think that section should have been placed as an introduction...not an epilogue. Then the first 100 pages would have made more sense.

Therefore I strongly recommend That the new reader look at the descriptions of this alternate world, where dinosaurs are not wiped out by a meteor strike, and its cultures before reading the novel

An excellent novel and the first of the series. I shall actively search out the rest of the series as well as look for more books by Harry Harrison. ( )
  Lynxear | Jan 25, 2017 |
It'd be one star, if not for the man-dino sex. Other than that, this book might as well have been written by Heinlein. ( )
  igorterleg | Dec 29, 2015 |
John Steinbeck's [b:East of Eden|4406|East of Eden|John Steinbeck|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1368072889s/4406.jpg|2574991] is one of my all-time favorite novels, the late great Harry Harrison’s West of Eden is another one. So whether you choose to go east or west of Eden you would be on to a very good thing in either direction.

The following paragraph is lifted entirely from Wikipedia:

“In the parallel universe of this novel, Earth was not struck by an asteroid 65 million years before the present. Consequently, the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event which wiped out the dinosaurs and other reptiles never happened, leaving the way clear for an intelligent species to eventually evolve from mosasaurs, a family of Late Cretaceous marine lizards closely related to the modern monitor lizards.

The intelligent reptiloid species is called the Yilanè.”


OK, that saves me at least 45 minutes of trying to think of a coherent description. What the above quote does not state clearly though is that the Yilanè are dinosaur people!. It is would not be accurate to say they are descended from dinosaurs as these creatures are still around in the universe of this book. No, the Yilanè are a species of dinosaur. A sentient one that walk upright, has developed language, culture, social organization and science. That is very nice for them but they make the Homo sapiens seem rather shabby in comparison. In this book humanity is not much in advance of cavemen in term of technology, and most are still living the lives of nomadic tribes. Fortunately they really know how to kick ass. The two species do have one thing in common though, an instinctive hatred for the other sentient species from the first encounter. An itch that can only be scratched by genocide.

The first half of the book tells the story of young Kerrick, a human boy captured by the Yilanè for research purposes, in order to find the most effective way of annihilating mankind. They are amazed to find that a dirty mammal (“ustouzou”) is able to learn to speak their language. It also tells of Kerrick’s loss of his humanity through a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. The second half of the book tells of the aftermath of Kerrick’s escape and warfare between the two species.

Why West of Eden is not better known is beyond me. It is an astonishing feat of world building and storytelling. The Yilanè’s mastery of biotechnology is very richly imagined. Where we (in the real world) use machines for transportation, weaponry, healthcare etc. the Yilanè use bioengineered creatures all these. For example their equivalent of guns is a squeezy creature that expels poison darts, their boats are creatures that need to be grown and instructed instead of steer, their manacles are animals engineered swallow their own tails etc. If you love the biotech of China Miéville’s [b:Embassytown|9265453|Embassytown|China Miéville|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320470326s/9265453.jpg|14146240] as I do, you will have a field day with this book (with much easier neologisms to figure out too). The Yilanè’s language includes voice, body and tail movements, plus skin colour changes, the very sort of thing I read sci-fi for. To be astonished. Even more astonishing is Kerrick’s adaptation of this language for which he must compensate for a lack of tail and inability to change skin colours.

The second half of the book is less fascinating than the first as the story leaves the exploration of the Yilanè’s language and culture, but the pacing of the story is quite rapid in this part and there is not really time for anything to drag. The central Yilanè and human characters are very well developed enabling the reader to appreciate both species’ perspectives. The only snag is that the human women characters are completely flat, though the Yilanè females are all badasses (theirs being the dominant sex). I kind of wish the Yilanè and humanity would learn to get along and coexist and perhaps they will do in the sequels which I have not read yet. In any case if both species get along like a house on fire right off the bat we would not have much of a story.

[a:Harry Harrison|16147|Harry Harrison|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1388851492p2/16147.jpg] is one of sci-fi’s best storytellers. His most popular work is the Stainless Steel Rat series. Comical sci-fi adventures which are not really my thing. He also wrote the classic dystopian [b:Make Room Make Room|473850|Make Room! Make Room!|Harry Harrison|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1345057490s/473850.jpg|639744], before the subgenre became fashionable. For my money though West of Eden is his best work. There are two sequels to this book that I will surely get around to before long.

Read without delay. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
this is the first "eden" book, and consequently gets the higher rating for originality. This is as good as Harrison gets, and his introduction to the world of the Yilane is good. The human characters are a little flat, but.... ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 14, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harry Harrisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
D'Achille, GinoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henderson, DouglasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Joó, AttilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanderson, BillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schleinkofer,DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
8     And the LORD God planted a garden
       eastward in Eden;
       and there he put the man
       whom he had formed.

16   And Cain went out from the presence
       of the LORD, and dwelt
       in the land of Nod,
       on the east of Eden.

       GENESIS
Izzo fa klabra massick, den sa
rinyur meth alpi

Spit in the teeth of winter, for he
always dies in the spring.
Dedication
for
T.A. Shippey and
Jack Cohen

without whose aid this book
would never have been written

particular thanks as well to
John R. Pierce and Loen E. Stover
First words
PROLOGUE: KERRICK

I have read the pages that follow here and I honestly believe them to be a true history of our world.
CHAPTER ONE:

Amahast was already awake when the first light of approaching down began to spread across the ocean.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553249355, Mass Market Paperback)

This book is a replica of the original from the collections of The New York Public Library; it was produced from digital images created by The New York Public Library and its partners as part of their preservation efforts. To enhance your reading pleasure, the aging and scanning artifacts have been removed using patented page cleaning technology. We hope you enjoy the result.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:23 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The saga of two cultures fated to struggle for control of the earth: the Yilane--cold-blooded intelligent reptiles and the Tanu--warm-blooded humans.

(summary from another edition)

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