The Many-Colored Land, by Julian May
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy Mesh (Adult)
Reason for reading: I read this book a long time ago and always intended on picking up the rest of the series. This year, I convinced my real-life book club to read it. So hopefully I'll get to the rest of the series soon!
Synopsis: In the near future, an alien federation called the Galactic Milieu has intervened on Earth, and welcomed humans into the its fold. For most of humanity, the Milieu is a blessing. Long life, health, an ethical law system, the adventure of space travel - these are the perks that humans enjoy. But some feel confined by the rules of the Milieu and yearn for a simpler life. And some are too sociopathic to be accepted in the Milieu's society. These people can go into Exile - they are sent back in time to the Earth's Pliocene epoch. The Many-Colored Land follows the story of one group of exiles as they discover what lies on the other end of the time-portal. Life isn't as simple as they expect, and they are soon swept up in a world of war and conspiracy.
My thoughts: I must have read a lot more hard-core science fiction when I was a teenager, because I don't remember this book being as heavy as it felt this time around. All the descriptions of futuristic technologies / cultures slowed me down because I don't read enough science fiction to be used to the terminology. It may have been slow reading for me, but I felt refreshed by the newness of the plot. This is a very complex book, with many layers of hidden foundation. Superficially, I think the characters could have used a little more development - but I'm sure they grow throughout the series. This first book in the Pliocene quartet was mainly world-building. We were introduced to the alien cultures - both the good and the bad aspects. We got a hefty background on the Pliocene epoch. And we got some hints of how these events in the Pliocene might have impacted humanity's development millions of years later. It's a fascinating set-up, and I'm eager to see how the rest of the series plays out. I've heard so many good things about it.