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Monday, July 25, 2005

Mammoth, by John Varley

Another book about time travel and pre-determination, yet despite what seems to be an upcoming obvious ending, has a twist to it that I did not predict, yet in hindsight should have seen coming. Very well done. Light entertainment --- don't expect deep thoughts to come out of it.

Howard Christian was not physically suited to being the only thing he had ever really wanted to be: a superhero. He knew it was childish and so he had never told anyone of his ambition, not even when he actually was a child. What he really wanted to do was swing through the conrete canyons of New York on fibers of mutated spider silk, or grow steel claws like his faborite X-Man mutant, Woverine.

The only thing that had ever been super abouat him, however, had been his brain. During one of the periods he had been in school he had been given an IQ test and the teachers had been soimpressed with the result they had sent hijm to another testing agency for a more accurate one. He scored 185. The man giving the test told Howard it was the highest score he had ever seen on that test. For years he had treasured that number 185, and had almost convinced himself it was the highest score ever... but eventually he learned of higher scores, of students who aced SAT tests on which he had managed only a 1540. So even in that he was not the best, not a true mutant, not superhero material.

But what was the Green Lantern without his ring, or Batman without his gadgets? Just guys in spandex suits, that's what. When he finally convinced himself of that he set about playing to his strengths instead of bemoaning his weaknesses. He began building his own Fortress of Solitude, his Bat Cave in the sky.

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