Icebones (Mammoth Series #3)

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The daughter of Silverhair, lcebones has awakened from her strange sleep of a thousand years in a place she does not recognize, surrounded by others of her gargantuan race who have grown soft and slow on the generosity of their captors. But the human masters are gone, abandoning the mammoths to the harsh realities of a distant, frozen world. And so it falls to Icebones to unite this ragged band and lead them on a remarkable quest for safety. But the journey must wind through a landscape of unimaginable dangers. ...

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Overview

The daughter of Silverhair, lcebones has awakened from her strange sleep of a thousand years in a place she does not recognize, surrounded by others of her gargantuan race who have grown soft and slow on the generosity of their captors. But the human masters are gone, abandoning the mammoths to the harsh realities of a distant, frozen world. And so it falls to Icebones to unite this ragged band and lead them on a remarkable quest for safety. But the journey must wind through a landscape of unimaginable dangers. And the safe haven they seek may be no more than legend. Still lcebones must persevere, for only she carries the accumulated knowledge of mammoth history — and only she can achieve the glory foretold in songs older than time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Transported to the Sky Steppe of Mars in the final, satisfying book in British author Baxter's highly original Mammoth trilogy (Longtusk; Silverhair), his engaging wooly characters face an abandoned and potentially lethal terraforming experiment left there by humans (aka "the Lost"). Matriarch mammoth Silverhair's daughter, Icebones, awakens from an unnatural slumber to find herself in a land and time far from her native Pleistocene earth. The mammoths here have no knowledge of their ancient culture, such as the teachings of their mighty progenitor, Kilukpuk. Mammoth tradition says the Sky Steppe is "the Island in the sky where... mammoths would one day find a world of their own, free from the predations and cruelty of the Lost, a world of calm and plenty" yet whatever promise Mars once held is fading now as the changes made by human engineers are reversed under the assault of the red planet's uncompromising weather and geology. Icebones's companions, used to depending on the Lost for everything, can't possibly survive alone. Their only hope is to cross half the world to reach the Footfall of Kilukpuk, a rich valley full of all the sweet grass and water the mammoths need. The journey is long and treacherous, but as the beasts' great Cycle says, "The mammoth dies, but mammoths live on." Baxter fills the tale with taut adventure and splendid settings, making it easy to suspend disbelief. (June 11) Forecast: With the first new Jean Auel novel in years due shortly, this series could benefit from heightened interest in Ice Age fiction. Baxter has won two Philip K. Dick Awards, as well as the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
When humans colonized Mars, they populated the red planet with preserved specimens of once extinct Earth species. In 3000 C.E., humans have disappeared from Mars, but mammoths remain, unsure of how to exist without the humans they have known as keepers and tenders. Only Icebones, daughter of Silverhair and keeper of the lore of her species, bears the knowledge to keep the herds of mammoths alive despite dangers from the unforgiving planet as well as dissension from within the herd. In the tradition of Watership Down and other animal-based fantasies, Baxter brings the great creatures of Earth's prehistory to life. This conclusion to Baxter's "Mammoth Trilogy" (Silverhair, Longtusk) is suitable for both adult and YA readers of prehistoric fantasy. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Final installment of Baxter's trilogy (it previously appeared in Britain) featuring intelligent mammoths-although, unaccountably, the publishers released the first two volumes here in the wrong order (Silverhair, 1999; Longtusk, 2001). It is now the fourth millennium. The mammoth Icebones, daughter of Silverhair, wakes from prolonged suspended animation-on top of Olympus Mons, the highest mountain on Mars! Moreover, she's at once surrounded by bewildered mammoths who, fed and nurtured by humans, have no idea how to survive now that the humans have gone. Mammoths have innate language skills, so at least the small, squat Icebones can talk with her tall, spindly, Mars-born cousins. Icebones, with her hard-won survival skills, must become Matriarch, and weld the confused group into a herd. But there's no food and little water on the mountain, and it seems that, briefly warm and wet, Mars is already cooling and dying. The mammoths might survive in Hellas basin, the deepest crater on the planet. And so they begin an epic journey across half the globe: down the enormous mountain, past huge frozen seas, through the vast canyon of the Valles Marineris, battling thirst, cold, starvation, predators, and even each other-not all the mammoths accept Icebones's leadership. And even if the herd attains its goal, it's far from certain that mammoths can survive if the planet continues to cool. Impossible not to cheer for Baxter's plucky pachyderms: a saga that, even at its most improbable, engages the reader's heart and mind.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380818990
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/1/2002
  • Series: Mammoth Series , #3
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Baxter is an acclaimed, multiple-award-winning author whose many books include the Xeelee sequence, the Time Odyssey trilogy (written with Arthur C. Clarke), and The Time Ship, a sequel to H. G. Wells's classic The Time Machine. He lives in England.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Mountain



The Story of the Language of Kilukpuk


This is a story Kilukpuk told Silverhair, at the end of her life.

All this happened a long time ago, long before mammoths came to this place, which we call the Sky Steppe. It is a story of Kilukpuk herself, the Matriarch of Matriarchs, who was born in a burrow in the time of the Reptiles. But at the time of this story the Reptiles were long gone, and the world was young and warm and empty.

Kilukpuk had been alive for a very long time. She had become so huge that her body had sunk into the ground, turning it into a Swamp within which she dwelled.

But she had a womb as fertile as the sea. And every year she bore Calves.

Kilukpuk was concerned that her Calves were foolish.

Now, in those days, no Calves could talk. Oh, they made noises: chirps and barks and rumbles and snores and trumpets, just as Calves will make today. But what the Calves chattered to each other didn't mean anything. They made the noises in play, or without thinking, or from pain or joy.

Kilukpuk decided to change this.

One year Kilukpuk bore three Calves.

As they suckled at her mighty dugs, she took each of them aside. She said, “If you want to suckle, you must make this sound.” And she made the suckling cry. And then, when the Calves were no longer hungry, she pushed them away.

The next day all the Calves were hungry again, and Kilukpuk waited inher Swamp.

The first Calf was silent, for she had forgotten the cry Kilukpuk taught her. And so she received no milk.

And she died.

The second Calf made the suckling cry, but made many other noises besides, for she thought that the cry was as meaningless as any other chatter. And so she received no milk.

And she died.

The third Calf, observing the fate of her sisters, made the suckling cry correctly. And Kilukpuk gathered her to her teat, and suckled her, and that Calf lived to grow strong.

When she grew up, that Calf had three Calves of her own. And all of them were born knowing the suckling cry.

Now Kilukpuk gathered the three Calves of her Calf. She said, “If you ever lose your mother, you must make this sound.” And she made the lost cry. And then she pushed the Calves away.

A few days later, the playful Calves lost their mother -- as Calves will -- and Kilukpuk waited in her Swamp.

The first Calf was silent, for she had forgotten the cry Kilukpuk taught her. And so she stayed lost, and the wolves got her.

And she died.

The second Calf made the lost cry, but made many other noises besides, for she thought that the cry was as meaningless as any other chatter. And so she stayed lost, and the wolves got her.

And she died.

The third Calf, observing the fate of her sisters, made the lost cry correctly. And Kilukpuk gathered her up in her trunk and delivered her to her mother, who suckled her, and that Calf lived to grow strong.

And when she grew up, that Calf had three Calves of her own. And all of them were born knowing the suckling cry, and the lost cry.

And the next generation of Calves was born knowing the suckling cry, and the lost cry, and the “Let's go” rumble.

And the next generation after that was born knowing the suckling cry, and the lost cry, and the “Let's go” rumble, and the contact rumble.

And so it went, as Kilukpuk instructed each new generation. Calves who learned the new calls were bound tightly together, and Kilukpuk's Family grew stronger.Calves who did not learn the new calls died. And still Kilukpuk's Family grew stronger.

That is how the language of mammoths and their Cousins came about. And that is why every new Calf is born with the language of Kilukpuk in her head.

Yes, it was cruel, and Kilukpuk mourned every one of those Calves who died. But it is the truth.

The Cycle is the wisdom of uncounted generations of mammoths. Nothing in there is false. For if it had been false, it would have been removed.

Just as the foolish Calves who would not learn were removed, by death.

Icebones. Copyright © by Stephen Baxter. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    strong epic morality tale

    In the year 3000 at least earth time, Icebones awakens from an extended suspended animation to realize she is not on her native planet anymore, but instead is at the top of Olympus Mons, the highest known mountain in the solar system. Even stranger is the behavior of the herd of her kin, woolly mammoths. They complain of starvation, but have no concept of feeding themselves. Instead they had been spoiled from when their former masters, the earthly humanoids, took care of them. Now the humans have deserted their pets on Mars. <P>Icebones realizes she is different from the other members of her species. The human scientists regenerated them all but she was born in a more natural manner enabling her to understand mammoth history, legend, tradition, and most importantly how to survive in the wild. Against some opposition, she becomes the leader and begins the journey across the planet where food and water might exist so that the species can live. <P>ICEBONES, the concluding novel of Stephen Baxter¿s imaginative personification of Woolly Mammoths, is an engaging science fiction tale that readers will enjoy. The story line requires a stretch to accept yet the audience will want to read this novel in one sitting. Fans will appreciate Icebones, a heroine who recognizes her responsibility to guide the unruly herd to the promised land and does not shirk away from doing the right thing though that would be easier on her. This is a strong epic morality tale that holds up with its two predecessors quite nicely to provide an entertaining insightful trilogy. <P>Harriet Klausner

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