Book Report: Mastodonia by Clifford F. Simak (1975)

Book coverNothing like a little science fiction to be memorable. This book is an odd duck of a book. The basic conceit of it is that an archeologist on sabbatical returns to his rural Wisconsin home to dig where he and his friends found some strange metals in his youth. An old flame returns and joins the dig, and they discover it is the site of a crashed spaceship from millennia ago. The local simpleton, who has always expressed affinity for animals and claims to talk to them, helps put them in touch with the survivor, a time engineer who can make time tunnels and who has been lonely throughout ages. So the alien will help the archeologists open time tunnels to the past, which the archeologists sell as exotic safari trips. But first, they decide to make their home in a bygone age to establish residency outside the United States. Hence, the Macedonia of the title.

Well, you’ve got a lot of things going on. Discovery of an alien artifact and alien. Relationships between small town people. Politicking and legal maneuvering. And hunting the biggest game of all.

I’d call it an interesting book, but that’s apparently pejorative now. Instead, I’ll say that the book left me wondering where it was going, but not in a bewildered fashion. Science fiction books, especially ones without problems well-defined early, can noodle around a bit and then resolve themselves somehow, as this one does, and all the speculation is worthwhile of its own accord.

As a reminder, I read Simak’s City in 2010 (seven years ago!). And called it ‘interesting’ for the same reason.