Cave Man Stories

Jun. 12th, 2009 | 07:57 am

There's a review in the Chronicle of Higher Education of Nicholas Ruddick's new book The Fire in the Stone: Prehistoric Fiction From Charles Darwin to Jean M. Auel.
The author offers spirited opinions on the artistic and other merits of different works. Like science fiction, he writes, prehistoric fiction extrapolates from scientific discourse, in this case paleoanthropology. However, "as an aesthetic criterion, plausibility is far more important in both genres than fidelity to science," says the scholar, a professor of English at Saskatchewan's University of Regina.
Continuing the comparisons to SF, Ruddick shorthands prehistoric fiction to "pf" (lower-case, no doubt, because it's easier to type when you're texting your friends about these hot ideas) and traces it to Darwin and contemporary discoveries in 1859, the same year that the first pf story was written by Pierre Botard. Other writers in the tradition include H. G. Wells and Jack London.

The blurbs include one from Gary K. Wolfe, who was impressed by the scholarship and surprised by the conclusions. Has anyone read this? I may have to pick it up.

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