DNF Book Review: The Many-Colored Land by Julian May #SciFiMonth


In the year 2034, Theo Quderian, a French physicist, made an amusing but impractical discovery: the means to use a one-way, fixed-focus time warp that opened into a place in the Rhone River valley during the idyllic Pliocene Epoch, six million years ago. But, as time went on, a certain usefulness developed. The misfits and mavericks of the future–many of them brilliant people–began to seek this exit door to a mysterious past. In 2110, a particularly strange and interesting group was preparing to make the journey–a starship captain, a girl athlete, a paleontologist, a woman priest, and others who had reason to flee the technological perfection of twenty-second-century life. Thus begins this dazzling fantasy novel that invites comparisons with the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ursula Le Quin. It opens up a whole world of wonder, not in far-flung galaxies but in our own distant past on Earth–a world that will captivate not only science-fiction and fantasy fans but also those who enjoy literate thrillers.



DNF at 26%

I think it’s a case of this book was not for me. First off, the story takes way too long to get going. There are probably half a dozen or more scenes, one after the other, all seemingly non-related that introduce us to new characters. This keeps going on and on and on right from the start. By the time these stories are connected together I’d spent a lot of time not being interested in any one of the characters. I think for me the characters are the most important part of any story and without enough time to settle into any one character, there just wasn’t time for me to form a connection with any them at all. While I admire the set up, it just didn’t work for me, this bouncing around from one thing to another.

Not to mention that each scenario is confusing in and of itself. If you want a writer that shows and doesn’t tell, Julian May might be the writer for you. Nothing is explained at all, nothing is given to you as a reader. Instead you have to parse everything out through context which is difficult for some of the information as the book starts off in the future and there are technologies and other things that just don’t exist here.

Aside from the characters and overly long plot set-up, the other thing that bothered me about this book is the prose. Or not exactly the prose because I didn’t mind the sentence structure or the words used to describe things so much, but the way the characters talk to each other and even think to themselves is very odd and threw me for a loop. I kept imagining they were from the 1920’s. And perhaps this is some kind of remark on how language evolves or how language stagnated to this particular style of English because of the ‘intervention’ whenever that was but if we’re just left to figure that out on our own then….maybe it’s not that and it’s just weird for the sake of being weird.

I really did think the concept of this was interesting. After all, I do love a good time travel story and the idea of a bunch of society’s misfits traveling back to the Pliocene Epoch to make a go of it has a lot of potential. I’m sure that it picks up later once our characters find themselves in the Pliocene Epoch, but sadly I didn’t get any further than Part One as I just lost interest in soldiering on. But maybe this will be the book for you!

12 thoughts on “DNF Book Review: The Many-Colored Land by Julian May #SciFiMonth

  1. Tammy says:

    This book is pretty old, I think being written in 1981 is deserves the “classic” label, so its not surprising the dialog didn’t work that well. Hey, kudos for trying!

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    I have fond memories of this book, although many of its details are lost in the “mists of time”, since I read it shortly after publication, and your comments on the writing and the long set up made me wonder if now, with the change that came over my tastes in reading material, I would enjoy it as I did back then….

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I definitely have books where I loved them when I originally read them but now I’m kind of bored with the style? Tastes do change! That being said, I hope that if you were to reread this you’d still love it! I can see people might like it, the concept is really interesting.

  3. @lynnsbooks says:

    Can’t win them all – and I seem to be having lots of ‘fails’ atm where I least expected. Or at least I’ve been putting lots of books down that I hope to return to.
    Lynn 😀

  4. Susy's Cozy World says:

    I am so sad that this was book was disappointing for you! The premises seem good, but what you wrote, especially about the characters and the first part with a lot of scenes to introduce them but unrelated to one another, would annoy me to. Thanks for sharing!

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yeah, the concept was really interesting! I feel like *maybe* the writing style felt a bit dated and that was the problem for me. Had I read this as a teen I probably would have enjoyed it.

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