One of the joys of the commuting with a Kindle is re-reading books that you remember a little, but not well enough to make re-reading dull.
I am currently reading the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel.
The books start out with a 5 year old human-like-us whose tribe have been killed in an earthquake being adopted by a clan of Neanderthals. I don’t know how much to spoil, as I don’t like spoilers, so I’ll just say that her innate differences sometimes get her into trouble, and that the first book is largely concerned with her learning to adapt to their ways and them learning to tolerate her oddness. She grows into a woman (although probably only to age 15 or so), and in many ways it reads like a young adult novel.
Books 2 onwards, however, are quite different, and concern themselves with:
- her quest to find other people like her (people like us)
- exploring the different ways in which “cavemen” lived
- her inventing everything before its time
- prehistoric soft porn
The author has spent a lot of time talking to and being taught by people whose job it is to work out how to make stone handaxes, or figure out what types of foods people ate in prehistoric times, or imagine exactly what some carvings of obese women with no faces might have meant. You can tell – she’s definitely one to show her work.
Despite the geological and historical and sociological details, the main thing I remember is that the protagonist invents all kinds of things, some while she is only a child. So I’ve decided to make a list… and I’ll come back to the list and see how well I did.
Things that Ayla invents (from my memory)
- taming animals (horse, big cat, wolf)
- needles (for sewing) with a hole in them
- double-shot slings
- slings that throw javelins
- riding horses
- using animals (the horse again) to pull things
- herbal contraceptive (doesn’t invent this – is taught it by her Neanderthal adoptive mother – but introduces it to humans-like-us)
- sign language (again, Neanderthals use this as their main method of communication but she teaches it to the others)
- making fire using flint
- sex = babies (more a discovery than an invention – no-one believes her)
That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll be back with updates to report on what she has invented and how many people are in love with her.
To be clear, I like these books, they are just a little silly.