For anyone looking beyond Jean M. Auel's overwrought Clan of the Cave Bear series, I wanted to recommend two excellent "primal" novels, both surprisingly by English Science Fiction author Stephen Baxter:
1.) Evolution: this is a really ambitious novel that begins with the first proto-mammals scrambling around underfoot as the Age of Dinosaurs crashed (via the Yucatan-event) around them. It then leaps forward through specific stories of mammalian, primate, and eventually hominin evolution right to the present day. Even more intriguingly, Baxter then jumps FORWARD in time, through a kind of devolution following the collapse of modern civilization.
2.) Stone Spring (UK only right now, but available used on Amazon): The first book in a series; it is set in app. 7300 BC, during the British Mesolithic and is essentially set in Doggerland, the now-drowned land that connected England to the continent during and after the Last Ice Age. The book paints a particularly vivid picture of the daily lives (meticulously researched, but still speculative) of our more immediate primal ancestors...with a lot of focus on food gathering, fishing, shell middens, and so on. Excellent reading
Thanks for that. I'll have to see if I can get Evolution on my Kindle.
Another interesting one of Baxter's is Origin. This has various species of human mixed together on a moon orbiting earth. It paints a good picture of the differences between the species. The most interesting being that of Homo Erectus who actually looks like us but has no conscious thought and kills anything for food including other humans.
Last edited by SeanC; 11-10-2010 at 08:16 AM.
These sound brilliant. I've actually been looking for some Paleo fiction. Are they well written as well as having a good story? I'm very particular about my fiction.
Last edited by StoneAgeQueen; 11-10-2010 at 08:43 AM.
I just found the list. I plan on looking at Amazon reviews of the books before trying to locate some of them.
Baxter as a writer
Well, the question of Baxter's writing style is a vexed one. I'm a College English Professor, mainly teaching Shakespeare and Nabokov, so I'm also very particular. Baxter has the strengths and weaknesses of most so-called "hard" science fiction writers: excellent on the description and exposition, less successful on the human psychology and dialogue. However, Baxter is better than most of his ilk (in general, I find British Science Fiction writers to be more "literary" than American ones). "Stone Spring" was especially well written, with moving, almost poetic descriptions of the landscape, the flora and fauna, and the deep connections that these Mesolithic Peoples had with nature. His "paleo (aka "meso") novels are miles above the puerile, overwrought romance-novel "prose" of Auel's series, especially.
Originally Posted by StoneAgeQueen
Yes! "Manifold: Origin" has a very interesting evolutionary/paleo dimension, even though it is much conventionally a hard science fiction novel. Baxter has also written a series of novels about Mammoths! However, I haven't read them yet.
Stephen Mithen's "After the Ice"
Another recommendation is actually a serious scientific work of archaeology by Stephen Mithen. It's called "After the Ice" and I include in the paleo fiction thread because he structures his very detailed and knowledgeable discussions of most of the known archaeological sites (from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) at 20,000 ya to the beginnings of agriculture in the Neolithic) around an imaginary time travel adventure, where we flit from age to age and site to site, and "observe" these various hunter-gatherer cultures in action, so to speak.
Mithen has also written a very intriguing book about whether Neanderthals had language.
Halfway through reading Evolution now and am thoroughly enjoying it. In fact can't seem to put it down. Reading it I have had a few ah-ha moments.