The Milieu Books of Julian May

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There are nine books by science fiction author Julian May in her Milieu world - four books in the Saga of the Pliocene Exile series, two books in the Intervention series, and three books in the Galactic Milieu trilogy.

'The Saga of the Pliocene Exile' Books

The four books in 'The Saga of the Pliocene Exile' were originally published between 1981 and 1984, and reissued during the early to mid 1990s; in the British edition, the series was retitled 'The Saga of the Exiles'. These books focus on the exploits of a group of misfit humans who use a one-way time machine to 'exile' themselves to prehistoric times, and find the planet occupied by an alien race.

The 'Intervention' Books

In the original hardback edition, these two volumes were combined into one book titled 'Intervention'; they were separated in the subsequent paperback edition, and titled Surveillance and Metaconcert.

The 'Galactic Milieu' Triology

After finishing the three books in the Galactic Milieu trilogy, a reader might well feel that the earlier six books were only written to set up the amazing richness of plot of the final three to be published.

Reading the Milieu Books - Where to Start?

The books are presented here in the order they were originally published, which is also the strictly chronological order of the books. However, given the element of time travel involved, there is in effect a looping of the chronology -- the end of Magnificat leads directly into the Saga of the Pliocene Exile books. As a result, here are two matters to consider when first delving into these books:

  • Due to the looping involved, it is not necessarily needful to start with the first series, the Saga of the Pliocene Exile. While the books within each of the series should probably be read in order, the series themselves can be read in any order and still be satisfying.
  • Within each series, there are bits and pieces that have considerably more meaning once you have read all of the other series. Unfortunately, this really means that you need to read all nine books at least twice in order to get the full effect.
  • Most readers will agree that the magnificence within these books lies in how they come together as a whole, rather than in the experience in reading each book individually. As a result, they are probably not the best choice for a reader who isn't interested in committing to read all nine books.

Different readers will have varying ideas about the ideal starting point for a reader new to the Milieu books.
  • A reader who prefers fantasy to science fiction might be more engaged by beginning with 'The Many-Colored Land'.
  • A reader who prefers the more straightforward style of science fiction from authors such as Clarke and Asimov might be advised to start with 'Intervention'.
  • Readers who want to delve directly into story might best begin with 'Jack the Bodiless'.

Other Works by Julian May

May's most famous story was probably her first published, the classic 'Dune Roller'. In the years since the Milieu books were published, subsequent series have included her 'Ramparts World' series and her current series of 'The Boreal Moon Tale'.

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