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The Many-Colored Land (1981)

by Julian May

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Saga of the Exiles (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,134235,841 (3.9)78
For a troubled band of misfits, the adventure is about to begin. In the 22nd Century, a group of misfits and mavericks are preparing to leave behind everything they have known. Advanced technology has created a one-way time portal to Earth's Pliocene Era - six million years ago. Those seeking a better life are drawn to the promise of a simple utopia, far from the civilised Galactic Mileu. But no one could have predicted the dangers on the other side. For the group will enter the battleground of two warring alien races, exiled from a distant planet. And these races not only have potent mind powers, but seek to exploit and enslave humans for their own needs. The travellers are about to discover that their unspoilt paradise is far from Eden.… (more)
  1. 01
    The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (wegc)
    wegc: Both are about humans enslaved by aliens and both feature humans with super-senses.
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» See also 78 mentions

English (22)  Dutch (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
This was recommended as a fun romp, and I kept expecting the fun to begin, but it never did. I gave up a little more than halfway through. ( )
  elenaj | Jul 31, 2020 |
For me and, I suspect, many others, one of the things that makes SF uniquely fun is being dumped into a world that is far-future or otherwise alien and having to figure out how it all works and maybe how we got there from here: having culture/future shock and coming to terms with it as the book progresses. In this book, May treats us to a prolonged description of the galaxy spanning culture that humans have joined (it reminds me of Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat books, without the humour and with aliens) and lengthy introductions to many of the protagonists, whilst also introducing the key McGuffin of a one-way time-portal to the Pliocene period on Earth. All of this takes approx. 100 pages and does everything it can to eliminate any chance of shock at all.

It's a real chore to hack through, especially as almost all of it is redundant. One could start at the beginning of Part 2 of this book and figure out almost everything of importance easily, I suspect. That would have been much more fun.

There are other problems: four of the people we are introduced to back in the future are just dropped about half way through - never to be heard of again, though supposedly returned to in the inevitable sequel. All the characters are misfits or psychologically damaged and the advanced, psychic clinical psychology of the future can't help them. Going to the Pliocene and having a revelatory conversation with a stand-in therapist figure does wonders for more than one of them, however. My eyes roll.

So we eventually get on to a "rebel freedom fighters take on the mighty overlords" adventure which is amusing enough. The "this explains the whole of Irish Celtic myth and a few other stories besides" set up is not really all that interesting. So as a throw-away paperback to read whilst ill it was just about good enough but I can't say I'm in any hurry to read the sequel. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
This was a surprisingly good read, but I suppose I shouldn't have been that surprised. It won the Locus and was nominated for both the '82 Hugo and '81 Nebula, after all.

I had this odd assumption that it was all fantasy from the bookcovers I'd known and from the comments I'd heard, and that's true as far as most of the story elements are concerned, but at its core, it's Hard SF with a huge dash of space opera, a truly epic amount of world-building in both the future and 6 million years in the past, with, of course, a lot of time-travel, and there's a truly epic amount of psi abilities, too.

The story breaks a lot of long-established SF and Fantasy conventions for the time, focusing almost exclusively on being fun, fun, fun. Julian May has a lot of respect for the genres and has a great time playing with ideas and sub-genres.

I mean, where else can you combine starships and aliens and slightly veiled fae with time travel to the deep past and huge genetic manipulation and high psi abilities, a long commentary on what it means to be human-normal in a perfected galactic society and how that makes us throwbacks, and how long wars can destroy whole genetic lines and the part that culture has in the whole mix.

Sound complicated? Not the way she writes it! Like I said, it's all fun adventure the high-tech magical artifacts, winning epic battles in the deep past, and getting to know and love some very interesting characters who happen to be... us. Flawed, idiotic, us. :)

The bonus in this novel is that there's a lot of great characters and it takes on a lot more scope than I'm used to seeing, lately. Not just 6 million years worth of scope, either, but in space and characters, races, and intentions.

And you've got to love rule-breakers and revolution-starters, too. Like I said, it's all fun. :)

And, of course, if you love epic fantasy but always wanted to see it treated like SF, then this is your book, because a great portion of it is devoted to just that. It's really quite a cool crossover. :)

( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
There is nothing special about this book.

Like so much Sci Fi, it is not very well written, there are no properly developed characters, there is nothing in the way of feeling or emotion generated from the author's decriptions. A passable concept, maybe, but just clumbsily and plainly handled.

Choose another book instead. ( )
1 vote GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
Meh. ( )
  shum57 | Jul 22, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julian Mayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barr, KenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gijsen, WimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
My heart is sore pained within me:
and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.

Fear and trembling have seized me:
and darkness has overwhelmed me

And I said: O that I had wings like a dove!
For then I would fly away and be at rest.

Lo, would I flee far away,
and live in the wilderness.

I would wait for him who will save me
from my cowardice and from the storm.

—Psalm 55
Dedication
For Tadeusz Maxim,
the noblest of them all
First words
To confirm that it was indeed near death, the great vessel broke through into normal space with lingering slowness.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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For a troubled band of misfits, the adventure is about to begin. In the 22nd Century, a group of misfits and mavericks are preparing to leave behind everything they have known. Advanced technology has created a one-way time portal to Earth's Pliocene Era - six million years ago. Those seeking a better life are drawn to the promise of a simple utopia, far from the civilised Galactic Mileu. But no one could have predicted the dangers on the other side. For the group will enter the battleground of two warring alien races, exiled from a distant planet. And these races not only have potent mind powers, but seek to exploit and enslave humans for their own needs. The travellers are about to discover that their unspoilt paradise is far from Eden.

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