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Mastodonia

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  561 ratings  ·  51 reviews
"The time trails led him to mastodons, money and the most amazing mystery of all: time."
Published as Catface in the UK. A cat-faced alien stranded in drift-free Wisconsin befriends locals and time-engineers portals into prehistoric epochs, where they establish a new nation: Mastodonia
Mass Market Paperback, 233 pages
Published September 12th 1978 by Del Rey Books (NY) (first published 1978)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  561 ratings  ·  51 reviews


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Bradley
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2018-shelf
This is definitely not a bad SF and Simak is still one of my favorite go-to classic SF authors. Even the basic tale of a time machine to colonize the past or otherwise get rich off of stupid hunters who think they're the match for dinosaurs is well done if an old tale.

Of course, later novels such as Jurassic Park blows modest SF like this away, but then... maybe not. :) Time travel tales usually get a bad rap. I don't know why. I enjoyed this one for what it was: popcorn fiction. :)

Even the tax
...more
Denis
Mar 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover, b-c
A charming Simak novel. Light reading. Though published in 1978, it felt as if it was written in the fifties. This is likely because it is based on a previous shorter work he published in 1955 entitled "Project Mastodon" (which can be read at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/22216). The story is changed significantly but the style and spirit is intact.

It is, for the most part, a story that explores all the commercial and social possibilities that come with the discovery of time travel. The time
...more
Cheryl
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: zz-keep-forever
A later work by the master. Not quite as good as his short stories as, tbh, he does tend to go on a bit. (In relative terms of course; this is still much shorter than most SF today.) Lots of interesting political and social ideas. Loaded with What If and Sense of Wonder.

Nothing to do with the short story 'Project Mastodon' ... it's almost like he assumed that his fans wouldn't notice the reuse of the location name.
Jim Mcclanahan
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm a dyed in the wool Simak fan. I even love the little parts in his adventure stories when the characters stop to cook bacon and pancakes over an open fire. But this one could simply be described as time travel versus corporate America. The players in this cautionary tale are one dimensional and not even all that likeable. The alien, Catface, is contrived and serves simply as a means to delivering a message about the folly of trying to commercially exploit a fantastic discovery. Not absolutely ...more
Jim
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this one before, by Clifford Simak (1904-1988). I remember finishing this story left with a warm and positive feeling. It's one of those books that you wish could be true ( how many books do you read that you would rather not have come true!) and even wish that you could meet some of those characters in the story, such as Asa, his dog Bowser, their good friend Hiram--and the alien "Cat-face." And also the old friendly mastodon "Stiffy." Asa Steele, while living in rural Wisconsin, ...more
Michael Hall
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming wonderful tale of time travel. Simak's characters are always so engaging and full of life, it makes the simplest of them lovable and almost tangible -- even the strange entity that is Catface. The atmosphere of the storytelling is a bit simple yet is still one of wonder and of surprise. Despite the slight hint of greed, the bureacratic stubbornness of government, and the nonsense of religion, the issue of social responsibility that arises doesn't detract from the adventure. In all ...more
Greg Curtis
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A lovely, gentle journey, well told and as with all of his books, with a love for his characters. Clifford Simak has a very easy writing style, which makes all of his works simply fly along as you read them, and he brings a real warmth to sci fi.
Gilbert Stack
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a strange little book that links an ancient alien spacecraft, portals in time, and a quiet man who has figured out the existence of both things. Asa is interested primarily in research, but his girlfriend convinces him that if they don’t monetize his discovery they will lose control of it. So they create the concept of Mastodonia—essentially an independent country situated in the past when humans were still hunting mastodons—from which they can operate various time travel services. Those ...more
Ron Rayborne
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
I like this book because it opened my mind (well it was already opened before that) to the idea of what the earth was like before us. These days there are plenty of books and videos discussing Life After Man, but how many to before? And in this book there is one paragraph that is my favorite, the opening paragraph in chapter 21:

"It was spring in Mastodonia and everything was beautiful. The mobile home stood on top of a little ridge no more than a half mile or so from where the time road brought
...more
Randy
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
A distant ancestor to Jurassic Park. Interesting, though dated, sci fi. Gets a half-hearted recommendation from me--you could do worse. It'll kill a plane trip without killing brain cells. No, this isn't the most cogent review, but I just can't bring myself to spend a ton of time on it. That should tell you everything you need to know.
Alex Shrugged
This is classic Simak and classic science fiction from the 1970s. That means that certain attitudes are considered normal that would not be considered normal today. If your panties get in a wad every time someone talks about the nesting instincts of women or the duty of men to protect women then skip this one. On the other hand, the author makes some concessions to the modern day such as men and women living under the same roof without benefit of marriage and women having a good head for ...more
Joseph Carrabis
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I guess this is my first experience with fiction written specifically for a genre as opposed to fiction that is written and is listed as a genre for marketing purposes. I'm sure I've read such material previously, this is the first time where the genre specific cliches leapt out at me with a hammer.
Is it well written? Yeah, well enough. It's not literature and it wasn't intended to be.
Is it a good read? I suppose, if you're reading specifically in this genre and are use to all the genre tropes.
I
...more
Keith Beasley-Topliffe
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sf
Social commentary wrapped in time travel

The title shouts time travel. The blurb mostly talks about time travel. There’s a lot of time travel in the book: to the era of mastodons (and one elderly one named Stiffy in particular) and further back to Cretaceous era dinosaurs. All solid science fictiony stuff and (since it’s Simak) very well done. But that’s just the MacGuffin. The real subject of the book is America in the mid 70s. The possibilities and dangers of the amazing discovery allow Simak
...more
Stephen Chappell
Hopelessly outdated and talky

As a boy and young man, I loved reading Clifford Simak’s books. The concepts were thrilling. However, some things don’t age well, and a re-reading of this book in the present ... well, it’s not very good. The dialog is very stilted, the characters poorly drawn (and his take on women and the poor is kind of shockingly bad, even when he’s showing that a woman can be a top businessperson).

And not a lot happens. There’s not a great deal of drama, but a ton of
...more
Earl Tower
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mastodonia is one of those quiet little science fiction novels of the late 70s/early 80s that came out right at the tail end of the New Wave literary movement in science fiction. But where other writers were still standing strong more traditional science fiction subgenres or moving into the new ones; Clifford D. Simak was still writing his unique, insightful humanistic science fiction.

Mastodonia is not the best example of his works, but it is still a solid story built around the idea of an
...more
Peter Brander
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Boy! Is Europe 2017 different from USA 1978! In this story a very sympathetic protagonist discovers a time travel mechanism. What does he do with it?
1. He makes a LOT of money selling outrageously expensive trips (the mechanism costs nothing to maintain).
2. He only sells trips to hunters who wants to shoot rare, extinct animals.
3. He moves into the past himself to avoid the IRS. (in 1978 taxes apparently wasn't something that paid for roads,hospitals and schools. Taxes was the Governments way of
...more
Crystal Miller
Aug 13, 2019 marked it as to-read
Did not finish.
Maybe someday I'll come back to it because the idea is interesting, but the writing style bothers me. There's an awful pattern of telling what happened in the past, and while I'm usually okay with an author not being vigilant about the "don't tell them, show them" rule of writing, this was too much.
Julie
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite SF books. I have re-read it several times over the years and it stayed fresh - Mr. Simak's writing style always delivers fully-fleshed out characters that leave you wanting more! I still believe this would be an amazing movie if done correctly!
Pam Ackerman
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling and thoughtful

Sinard creates very human characters in this book. I especially liked his hero, Ash. The others times he takes us to are thoughtfully described. And the alien Catface is.... well alien.
Mark Smiley
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this many years ago and picked up a copy from a used book store. I enjoyed it immensely this time through. Could have done without some of the language and some of the Dino stuff was off, at least according to modern knowledge, but still an enjoyable romp through the past.
Dave C
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just Perfect

What a great story. From very humble beginnings in a little town in rural America, just like many of his other stories, a freak occurrence becomes a business, the government gets involved, it all goes to hell, that everything works out OK.
Scott
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although somewhat dated, Mastadonia is a light and enjoyable read. What if you could make a portal back to any time period you wanted? What if you could sell people access? What would the IRS do, the CIA, the politicians, the church? This is an interesting little story as it glimpses prehistoric times and speculates on what it was really like but goes on to play out the implications of publicly marketing travel back in time.
Bill
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simak was a great old school SciFi Grandmaster. Terrific writer and compelling tales.
C. Michael
I enjoyed the paperback version enough that I bought a hardcover edition and read it again.
Ray
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting concept of time travel. Great characters and tight storyline.
Djordje
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
My rating: ...more
tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
May 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
review of
Clifford D. Simak's Mastodonia
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - May 17, 2013

I think this is the 1st Simak novel I've read, maybe I've read some short stories. It seems that he always struck me somehow as a 'generic' SF writer - not necessarily such a 'bad' thing, I'd rather read a 'generic' SF writer than a generic horror writer anyday. Nonetheless, something about his work, maybe the titles, put me off.

HOWEVER, reading this, I enjoyed it. At 1st, he seemed like a California SF
...more
Cormacjosh
May 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
My father purchased a copy of this book for me when it was brand new in 1978, and I was five. I tried to read it then, but it was far, far above my head and I put it down. I read it entirely at the age of 12 in 1985, and enjoyed it then. The fact that Mastodonia was once a Science Fiction Book Club main selection inspired me to join the SFBC, a club to which I still belong, 26 years later.

Having lost my original copy in a house fire years ago, I obtained another copy via the internet for one
...more
Mark Jensen
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've always felt that a requirement for a good time travel story is an exploration of time paradoxes. Mastadonia goes against that rule--time paradoxes are barely mentioned and in no way make up part of the plot or theme of the story. Instead, it focuses on the turmoil the discovery of time travel causes and the political issues that arise. Also, in no small way, it explores the relationship between the narrator and the alien being that makes the time travel possible.

One of the political issues
...more
Gabriele
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urania, sci-fi
The book is easy to read and, even if it has a good pace, sometimes you don't know where it's aiming to go. I loved all the political/economical/religious issues that arise as an unforseen consequence of time traveling, it's the first time I actually see someone describing what will happen IN THE MOMENT time-travel would become available: usually all sci-fi are set many decades after the discovery of such travels.

The final is a bit rushed in my opinion, but I still recommend the book to anny
...more
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"He was honored by fans with three Hugo awards and by colleagues with one Nebula award and was named the third Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 1977." (Wikipedia)

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifford...
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