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The Many-Coloured Land (Saga of Pliocene Exile, #1)
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Book Discussion: The Many-colored Land by Julian May

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message 1: by Tom, Supreme Laser (new) - added it

Tom Merritt (tommerritt) | 1157 comments Mod
This is the third of six threads to discuss books on the show nominated by Kickstarter backers!

This nomination comes from Ralff Windwalker. He actually gave us two. One was a laser and the other was little more inbetween. It's The Many-Coloured Land by Julian May.

"The Many-Colored Land is the first book of the Saga of Pliocene Exile by American author Julian May. ."

Who's read it? Any of you planning to read it? Let us know what you think!


message 2: by Ally (new)

Ally (leopardqueen) This actually sounds like a really interesting read. I am always open to trying new books, and it looks like people think highly of this one. I would like to give it a go.
On a side note, the author's profile says born in U.S. ... but there is a "u" in "coloured"...? Not that I mind, being Canadian and all.


message 3: by Lindsay (last edited Oct 13, 2014 05:18PM) (new)

Lindsay | 593 comments I read these back in the 80s while I was in high school and loved them then. I've been a little reluctant to revisit them just in case the suck fairy had visited.

I do remember really liking Intervention which served as a bridging book between the Piiocene Exile Trilogy Series and the Galactic Milieu Trilogy.


message 4: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 3621 comments Mod
I have read it. But the note inside my copy shows I read it April 1984 :-?
So I might be a bit rusty on the details after 30 years ;-) I know I enjoyed it.

Ally wrote: "On a side note, the author's profile says born in U.S. ... but there is a "u" in "coloured"...? Not that I mind, being Canadian and all. "

There are versions with the alternate spelling (Without the U)
My copy also has it as Book One in the "Saga of the Exiles" another minor difference from the US version "Saga of the Pliocene Exile"

After checking the author profile I was shocked (but delighted) to find out Julian May was a woman. I've read several of her books and always assumed she was a man. The male spelling of her name threw me.


message 5: by Phil (new)

Phil | 1154 comments I've been planning to read this for a while and in fact got a copy a few months ago based on the recommendations of Goodreads.


message 6: by Karl (new)

Karl Smithe | 77 comments I read it long ago. It's one of those books that really seems more fantasy than SF. Essentially mutants with psychic powers that would be magic in an official fantasy story.


Trike | 8768 comments I read these when they came out in paperback and thoroughly enjoyed them. They are very much wide-screen epics with large casts and colossal goings-on.

They also sported gorgeous Michael Whelan covers.

I recall thinking they would make for terrific movies but I couldn't imagine how you'd manage to do it back then, because the state of the art was Empire Strikes Back. Today, of course, it'd be 7/8ths CGI.

I think there was some metaphor about Pilgrims and Native Americans or something, but with all the aliens and psychic abilities and tech-enabled superpowers, who could figure it out?

"She D-jumped!"


message 8: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1154 comments Like Lindsay and Tassie Dave, I read this a looong time ago. I remember liking it...and nothing else. It may be time gor a reread.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2513 comments Like most others here I read this series long ago but remember that I absolutely loved them.


message 10: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments I, like the others in this thread, remember reading it and several of the sequels a long time ago. In an inversion of Tassie Dave's experience, I had thought Julian May was a woman while reading the Pliocene Exile only to be told by someone I (should not have) trusted that Julian was a man.

As for the books, I remember them as fun adventure stories. I read tons of comic books back then and these characters were right up that alley -- whether you say magic, superpowers or psychic abilities ;)


message 11: by Cliff (last edited Oct 14, 2014 12:21PM) (new)

Cliff | 69 comments I think I mentioned this in the "From Lem to Love" thread. The Many-Coloured Land was the first book that I ever lemmed. The book starts off with a very dry world-building prologue and it quite literally put me to sleep. When I woke up, I decided that was a clear sign and returned the book to the library.

Obviously, I read the entire series a couple of years later and remember really enjoying them. But like many of you, I read them back in the 80s when the whole anti-hero thing really started to take off. So, I particularly liked Aiken Drum's plotlines.


message 12: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris (kvolk) I really enjoyed the series and this particular book is great. I have read it many times and it has aged gracefully I think. It has the grandeur and scope of a space opera but includes some fantasy tropes in unique ways. Really a highly enjoyable series that is not like many stories out there.


Trike | 8768 comments I think it's also an interesting example of time travel, in that the notion of sending people far enough back in time so that they don't have any impact on the present is based on the faulty logic of "because obviously they haven't".

Which seems silly, but that's actually how people behave in the real world about everything we do, without realizing the impact we have. And, of course, just as we're wrong about cutting down the rainforest or overfishing or killing off apex predators or throwing garbage in the ocean, the time travel actually does have an impact on the future, which I think is a pretty sneaky way of talking about these other issues we're facing currently. Considering the book was written 35 years ago makes it rather prescient in that regard.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2513 comments This book was also up for a Hugo in 1982 but lost out to Downbelow Station. Another example of why I don't give the Hugo's much credit.


message 15: by Fresno Bob (new)

Fresno Bob | 589 comments I read all of Julian May's stuff, and enjoyed them quite a bit


message 16: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 2305 comments I read the original Pleistocene Exile saga back in high school (i.e. around the time they came out) and remember enjoying them. These days I'm extremely fuzzy on the details, although I vividly remember (view spoiler).


message 17: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay | 593 comments AndrewP wrote: "This book was also up for a Hugo in 1982 but lost out to Downbelow Station. Another example of why I don't give the Hugo's much credit."

While I love both books, I can't fault the choice of Downbelow Station over The Many-Coloured Land.

Downbelow Station was hugely influential on later SF works with even Ann Leckie citing the author as a key influence. The political space opera is a key mode of modern SF (much of Peter F. Hamilton, James S. A. Corey, Iain M. Banks) and Downbelow Station is an important part of that lineage.

OTOH, The Pliocene Exiles was one of the last gasps of the idea that psychic powers (clairavoyance, telekinesis, telepathy etc) as a natural part of humanity are actually a science fictional concept instead of pure fantasy. You see psychic powers as an element of serious SF all through the 50s, 60s and 70s and a bit into the 80s and 90s (like this series and its sequels), but in modern SF this trope is at a dead end.


message 18: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris (kvolk) Lindsay wrote: "AndrewP wrote: "This book was also up for a Hugo in 1982 but lost out to Downbelow Station. Another example of why I don't give the Hugo's much credit."

While I love both books, I can..."


Lindsay that is a great point about psychic powers and how it changed over time. I never really noticed that but when I read your comment it totally clicked with me that what was a hard scifi concept became almost an exclusively fantasy concept.


Casey | 654 comments I read this a while back... not my thing.
But I did write a review.

If you feel patient, give it a go. But I'd rather suck a lemon, or sit on a porcupine than read this again.


message 20: by Scott (last edited Oct 18, 2014 03:55PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Scott Whittaker (scott_whittaker) | 2 comments I came across this series in 2001 while backpacking from Singapore to Thailand when I was stuck in a hostel due to bad weather. They had a library of books abandoned by other travellers. I found a tattered copy of the second book in the series and started reading it and quickly got sucked into it. I left the book I brought with me there and took this one with me to read on my way.

The series is fantastic, and Ms. May does a wonderful job with world building and character development. This series feels very much like epic fantasy, but she approaches the fantastic elements with the logic and realism of hard sci-fi.

This series bookends with the Galactic Milieu series which definitely is pure sic-fi and ties the cycle together with a satisfying conclusion which is something most good series I've read fail to do. It is also the only series I've read that comfortably sits inside both the Sword and Laser camps.

I cannot say enough good things about this series, but I have to admit that the first book in this series is by far the weakest of the lot. To be honest if I had picked up The Many Coloured Land instead of The Golden Torc, I'm not sure I would have finished it let alone continued the series.

It is very slow to get going and spends a lot of time introducing the characters in the future setting of the Milieu, which is eventually left behind when they travel through the time gate to the Pliocene era. It adds a lot of unnecessary detail that just bogs down the narrative without being quite fleshed out enough to be rewarding on the first read. A re-read after having completed the entire cycle makes those passages more meaningful, but it's harder to appreciate when you are a third of the way through the book and nothing's really happened.

So if you like Sci-Fi, I'd say start this series with Intervention, the first book in the Galactic Milieu half of the series, and come back around to the Pliocene Exiles afterwards. There are a couple of characters that cross over between the series, but reading Milieu won't spoil anything important in Exiles.

Either that or be prepared to read the first two books before judging whether or not to continue the series. It's a rewarding read and well worth the effort.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2513 comments Tom says this is the 3rd of 6 threads. What were the other 2?


message 22: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 3621 comments Mod
AndrewP wrote: "Tom says this is the 3rd of 6 threads. What were the other 2?"

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


Ralffie | 26 comments Woo Hoo! Obviously one of my favorite series (4 books)--and I've read all Julian May's books in this universe, and ended up with 2 Maine Coon cats because of the Galactic Milieu series as well.
It is true the first book spends a lot of time introducing everyone, and things pick up much more in the 2nd.

It does treat the "metapsychic" abilities more like magic, and it is laid out like any good system of magic.
I also really enjoy the Tanu/Firvulag--who are (according to the story) the real life versions of our legends of Tuatha Dé Danann and Fir Bolg.

If you read the Iron Druid Chronicles, many of the names in this series will sound very familiar.


Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments I found the beginning slow, but I was willing to wait until I saw what was there on the other side of the time-gate. And then I was totally hooked. I'm going to spoiler-tag all my thoughts just in case. (view spoiler)

I do wish the pacing had been a little faster. I'm a little annoyed that this wasn't just one's novel's worth of story. I haven't yet decided if I want to continue with this series or not. Or if I want to know more about the Milieu and less about this particular conflict.


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