MASTODONIA by Clifford D. Simak


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One of Simak's low-keyed Wisconsin yarns of something funny beyond the back of the barn--in this case Catface, a stranded alien who's been whiling away the millennia in bucolic Willow Bend building time tunnels on Asa Steele's farm. Nothing much ever wanders into them until Asa, a paleontologist on sabbatical, notices his dog Bowser coming home with fresh dinosaur bones. In no time flat Asa's old girl friend Rila, undeterred by the fact that the only person who can talk to Catface is Hiram the village simpleton, has a lawyer figuring out how to put time-travel ""on a sound economic basis."" The idea is to set up headquarters someplace in the Pleistocene epoch outside the temporal jurisdiction of the I.R.S., deal through an ""American agent"" in 20th-century Willow Bend, negotiate contracts with a safari group, and watch the tax-free dollars flow back to Pleistocene headquarters (""Mastodonia"") as prospective dinosaur-hunters sign up for the Jurassic or Cretaceous. Pretty soon an enterprising politician is trying to horn in, and then a religious group, and before long all parties except Catface wish they'd never heard of time-travel. In his gentle way, Simak can be a very witty writer, and it's good to see him back on that track after his recent, flabby lapses.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1978
Publisher: Ballantine