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The Many-Coloured Land

(Saga of the Pliocene Exile #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  11,371 ratings  ·  472 reviews
When a one-way time tunnel to Earth's distant past, specifically six million B.C., was discovered by folks on the Galactic Milieu, every misfit for light-years around hurried to pass through it. Each sought his own brand of happiness. But none could have guessed what awaited them. Not even in a million years....
ebook, 410 pages
Published January 17th 2013 by Pan Macmillan (first published 1981)
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Mark Lawrence
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
According to the publisher Angry Robot, Julian May has died, age 86.

The sad news has motivated to review this book, which I haven't read in 30 years.

I think it was Julian May who gave me the taste for mixing fantasy and science fiction. This, excellent, series is set mainly in the Pliocene era of Earth, where miscreants from our distant future are exiled via a time portal.

Back in this past, several million years before our time, these futuristic exiles try to make a life for themselves with th
...more
Clouds

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and beca
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Bradley
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 pa
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Adrian
I first read this book (and the three sequels) sometime in the 1980s, and have fond memories of the series. Why I have never read them again since, I don't now as they are well written and a great story. Well this first one is anyway.
It centres on a situation far into the future of Earth when we have joined with a number of alien races to create a Galactic Federation that reveres life forms with certain ESP talents. In addition a scientist discovers almost accidentally a means by which objects
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Jon
I read this back in the mid 80's, soon after I had finished all of J.R.R. Tolkien's novels and Stephen R. Donaldson's Covenant series. It so intrigued me that I read the entire four book series in a week or two. I eventually read the rest of Julian May's works, but with less enthusiasm.

The Pliocene Epic was intriguing because it was a time travel science fiction story with psi powers thrown on top. It sometimes felt like fantasy, with what seemed like magic, but you knew it was really scienc
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Allison Hurd
Do not read this if you are reading it with SFFBC and want to go in without any preconceived notions!

Wow, this is an EXPERIENCE. It is veeeery 80s and did not age well for me.

First I think the author was dared to write a story with: dinosaurs, space travel, pirates, vikings, Catholicism, telepathy, time travel, and sword & sorcery.

So, she did, and then her agent said "listen, only two markets are buying right now--horse girls and men who are reading pulp novels about harems in pleasure domes."
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Anthony
I first read this book in my teens, and have a memory of loving it, as well as the rest of the series, but as I finished this reread (due to it being a selection of the SFF book club) I have no idea why. There were moments — which grew few and far between — in which the gonzo energy of so many weird elements being thrown together more or less worked, but ultimately there’s no depth here to speak of, and the climax falls apart in a deeply unsatisfying manner.

I won’t be rereading the rest of the
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Wanda
A re-read as a refresher before tackling the rest of the series. I remember reading it while on vacation a number of years ago at a friend’s cabin and staying up far too late in order to finish the book. I originally gave it 5 excited stars from that reading and I think I will leave that score intact to reflect my first excitement about the work. Despite my initial enthusiasm, I am amazed at how many details were completely wiped from my memory banks—as a result, I enjoyed my second read almost ...more
Hank
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-club-read
A table of boys in a 9th grade English class have an assignment to create an idea for a sci-fi novel and it goes something like this....

Boy 1: "I liked Serenity, we should do something like that, spaceships+old west"

Boy 2: "Yeah! And dinosaurs, it should have dinosaurs!"

Boy 3: "Dinosaurs?! That's stupid, sci-fi does NOT have dinosaurs"

Boy 2: "It could...if we had time travel, yeah! All sci-fi has time travel we should do that!"

Boy 4: "Idiots! You need aliens if it s going to be sci-fi"

Boy 2: "Ye
...more
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a SF novel that mixed a lot of themes. The book was nominated for Nebula, Hugo and Locus Awards after it was published in 1981. I read is as a part of monthly reading for March 2020 at SciFi and Fantasy Book Club group.

This review contains spoilers for setting up the story, but not of how the story went off. Because it is the first volume of the trilogy, the setting is quite long, roughly a third of the book.

Humans made contact with extraterrestrials in the early XIX century, allowing to
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Dawn C
I didn’t know about this series beforehand so went in brand new. I enjoyed the adventure quite a lot, especially the meticulous building up to the travel back in time, which certainly raised the suspense. What was really going to happen to them when they arrived in the Pliocene era 5,000,000 million years ago?

Unfortunately I didn’t really care for any of the characters, despite the time devoted to introduce each. As usual my main problem with multiple character stories is I can’t tell them apart
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aPriL does feral sometimes
I am very pleased to find a science fiction series by yet another wonderful book club recommendation! 'The Many-Colored Land' by Julian May is thrilling, exciting and most of all fun! It is new to me, but this novel, the first in a series, was first published in 1981. Familiar character stereotypes populate the novel - but what the hell! It is well-done. Do readers really mind that? What do you say, Star Wars fans?

Misfits and unhappy people compete to be selected for access to a time machine in
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Kat  Hooper
Dec 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The Many-Colored Land, a classic (1981) science fantasy novel by Julian May, wasn’t too high on my TBR list until I noticed that Blackstone Audio released it last month. I like science fantasy, so I gave it shot, and I sure am glad I did. I loved every moment of The Many-Colored Land and my only disappointment is that the rest of The Saga of Pliocene Exile is not available on audio.

The story begins on Earth and the rest of the Galactic Milieu in our 22nd c
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Robert
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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 wit ...more
Terry
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gabi
What I liked was the choice of setting. It is rarely (if ever?) that I find an US author chosing my home area for a novel (even if it was in its pliocene state). So each mentioning of Black Forest or Kaiserstuhl gave a little warm feeling in my heart.

Unfortunately the rest of the book wasn't for me. It felt too pulpy, too many characters with too little features that would have made them standing out in my memory. In the end I had the feeling I had been reading something with every available SF
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Ryan
***This review contains hyperbole.***

This book might be worse (but almost certainly not better) than my rating suggests.

I zoned out from it frequently. Going back and listening to parts again was no help. It's as if some paragraphs and entire chapters had a stealth spell caste upon them that made me forget them immediately.

What I do recall from this book (that I've just finished reading in a single day with no actual distractions) is that if you tore a page out of every fantasy and science fic
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David Firmage
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable mix of fantasy and sci-fi. Takes a bit of patience as it is quite slow to begin with and as it over 30 years old has an older vocabulary and style. I will trying to source a new copy of the second book.
Alex Bright
Rating: 3.5 Stars, rounded up to four because it was just... entertaining. Ridiculous at times, but entertaining.

Full disclosure -- I'm not really a fantasy reader, nor am I familiar with a lot of themes or tropes in fantasy. This book was suggested as a book club read in the category of science fiction, but it barely classifies as such.

The negatives first: I very nearly DNF'd The Many Coloured Land at about 15% because of the introduction of a million characters I couldn't keep straight. Ever
...more
Karen Brooks
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once more I picked up an old favorite to see if it still resonated. This time, the inspiration was the trailer for Stephen Spielberg's new series, Terra Nova which, as I watched, reminded me of May's series and I wonder if there is a relationship there? The show hasn't screened in Australia yet and I am looking forward to it starting. In the meantime, however, I found my copy of TMCL. it was marvelous revisiting and once again being captivated by such a powerful novel and idea: that a mixed grou ...more
Alan Denham
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-paper
The Many-Coloured Land

This is one of the possible starting points in an enormously complex epic covering four thick volumes set mostly in the Pliocene and four more set in something recognisably parallel to our present and near future.
Thick volumes! The paperbacks on my shelves are mostly around 500 pages, and all eight together take up just over a foot of shelf space!

The Many Coloured Land begins in our near future. Earth has been accepted into a galaxy including half a dozen alien races, all
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Lyn
Aug 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very original and entertaining, good start to a series.
Amanda
This isn't a good book, but I never got the impression that it was taking itself too seriously, so was able to enjoy it in sort of an accidental self-parody kind of way.
Jamie
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is difficult to review without spoilers. Suffice it to say there is *a lot* going on, with multiple sci-fi and fantasy elements woven together into a story of ambitious scope. Very skilled authors can sometimes make that work, but often such stories collapse under their own weight. That seems to be the case here, although the story works on some levels and still remains somewhat engaging throughout.

The story starts out squarely as science fiction but then evolves into what feels like an epi
...more
Amy
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of stong character and setting development as well as fans of "Falling Skies"
This book became an instant favorite within a few short chapters as I started to meet all the characters. I regret terribly that the author of this series doesn't want it to go to television or film, but I do understand her fear that it would not be true to the world that she created. They're all cast and mini-series-ready in my head if she changes her mind and ever wants my input.

The book starts in the future when humans have populated various planets in the universe and come to peaceful unders
...more
Andreas
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The scope of this saga spanning eight novels is staggering. A gate is opened to the past, specifically the Pliocene era. But it is a one-way trip. Adventurous souls travel back, and find a world unlike any they could imagine. Epic conflict rages between ancient races, and the future destiny of man is decided. The initial four books make up The Saga of Pliocene Exile.

* The Many-Coloured Land
* The Golden Torc
* The Nonborn King
* The Adversary

These can be read as a standalone series, but who wou
...more
Michael R.
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow! What a concept! When a time wormhole is discovered to 6,000,000 BC, bored adventurers looking for excitement and having nothing on earth let to explore, take the one way trip into the unknown...

Sounds fun!

Except... unbeknowst to the wary time travelers... an exotic race already exists in 6M B.C., is well aware of the time tunnel, and posts guards to enslave everyone coming through!

What a shocker. This first book in the series sets up for much intrigue to come, as we follow eight of the tim
...more
Reed
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes nostalgia takes over and I am tempted to re-read something from my past. Knowing there are so many books I'll never get to, I don't typically read books again, but I like to allow myself one book a year or so to indulge the urge to go back.

Ever since the ill-fated TV show Terra Nova hit the air, I have been bitterly reminded of Julian May's enjoyable Pliocene Exile series. Aspects of Terra Nova, ie. people being exiled into the distant past, reminded me of May and her excellent books.
...more
Justin Pickett
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was not what I expected at all. What should you expect? It is kind of like a cross between Dawn and Seed to Harvest, but it is not nearly as good as either of them. So many interesting ideas—one-way time travel to 6 million years ago, prohibition of time travel with modern weapons, sterilization of female travelers to prevent childbirth in the Pliocene Epoch–go nowhere. I was so excited to see how the absence of offspring (and thus of young apprentices) affected knowledge transmission and t ...more
AndrewP
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading a book you enjoyed in your youth seem to always be a bit of a crap shoot. Quite often what impressed me back then may turn out to be totally different with a more mature outlook. For me, that wasn't the case with this book, it was almost as enjoyable as I remember it to be. Surprisingly, even after several decades there were a couple of scenes that I remember well and knowing more or less what happened in the end made it a little less exciting. True, some of my recollections must be f ...more
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Julian May was an American science fiction, fantasy, horror, science and children's writer who also used several pseudonyms including Ian Thorne, Lee N. Falconer and many others.
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Other books in the series

Saga of the Pliocene Exile (4 books)
  • The Golden Torc (Saga of the Pliocene Exile, #2)
  • The Nonborn King (Saga of the Pliocene Exile, #3)
  • The Adversary (Saga of Pliocene Exile, #4)

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