Rainbow Mars

By Larry Niven

Rating: 3 stars

Hanville Svetz travels in time to bring back long-extinct animals to his time period, and so what if they’re somewhat different to those described in the history books: maybe horses did have a single silver horn and maybe snakes did have feathers and wings. But the Secretary General has died and his successor isn’t interested in retrieving animals from history, but in exploring space. This leads to an interesting collaboration between the Institute of Temporal Research and the Bureau of Space which discovers life on Mars in the past, and a beanstalk that is, er, a beanstalk.

This was a rather odd book, and it took me a while to get into its mesh of sci-fi and fantasy, as the human travellers find various mythological Martians, from Burroughs through Bradbury and Heinlein to Wells, but once I got past that I found it quite enjoyable, even if I did need the author’s afterword to recognise all the various Mars references. Time travel usually gives me a headache, but it was handled quite well here and I found the central characters interesting and well-written, people I was quite happy to spend a few hours in the company of.

There are other stories in this “atomic era” universe which detail some of Svetz’s adventures in bringing back historical/mythological animals and I would quite like to read some of those now that I know what to expect from this universe.

Book details

ISBN: 9783404242900
Year of publication: 1999

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