The premise of Raising the Past is fairly straightforward; a team of scientists excavate a frozen mammoth and locate a mysterious device of unknown origin in the ice along with it, spinning the story into a sci-fi tale. The main reason for picking this book up is because its events have been retconned into Robinson’s Kaiju series. Considering that the Kaiju series has been pretty good enough thus far, the same style and quality of writing from Robinson was expected for this story. That bar was set way too high for that decision. Granted, this is one of Robinson’s earliest works. He has had almost a full decade to practice his craft and iron the wrinkles out since Raising the Past was published. That, however, does not automatically make this book magically better.
First and foremost, the plot of the story was doing ok up until the end. It did start to go downhill a bit before that, but at the end it just crashed straight into the ground instead of rolling downhill gradually. Just from the premise of the book (mammoth in the ice, mysterious device) it seemed like a good sci-fi story. With all the twists and turns, that quickly came to a halt. Please note: it is fairly hard to explain anything about the story without giving anything away. Basically, there are two groups the protagonists are caught between. They are attempting to help Group A while Group B chases and attempts to kill them. This is the plot of the majority of the book. Then, at the very end, there is a revelation and the status of the groups switch; Group A are now the bad guys while Group B assists the protagonists. This is after the scientists have outright killed most of Group B as well; apparently everyone was just ok with that.
Secondly, the characters, and their various issues, that prevent the book from making much sense. It is no secret that characters in fictional worlds do not always have the ability known as “common sense”. For a group of expert scientist-explorers, these people do some pretty stupid things. At one point, a character dies because he purposely secludes himself from the group so that he can pee in private. While they are all knowingly being hunted down like animals. The other big thing as that no one panics. Crazy sci-fi stuff going on? That’s ok. Fate of humanity possibly on our shoulders? Not an issue. Friends and colleagues being killed off in front of me? No emotional scarring there. Regardless of how screwed they seem to be at any given time, the entire cast of characters just rolls with it for the most part. And at the end of the book, there is a bit of a cliffhanger and leaves the characters wondering. And after this huge adventure they all just kind of shrug and say, “Oh well, guess we’ll never know.”
If you must read Raising the Past, pick up a cheap copy and do not plan to keep it on your shelf permanently. This book was B-A-D, bad, and is only recommended for fast readers who are diehard Jeremy Robinson fans. The information in this book had better be critical for understanding Project Hyperion; otherwise, for shame Jeremey Robinson, for shame, because this book is nothing but a time waster.