Recommended: The Hominids
Seven Skeletons' Lydia Pyne cites Robert J. Sawyer's The Hominids as a fiction book that gets Neanderthals right
Because there are facts about early hominids and there are also fictions about early hominids. But when we asked Lydia Pyne which popular entertainment was the most accurate, she thought we meant movies, and she was at a loss. "A colleague of mine," she said, "once referred to Quest for Fire as Ron Perlman Goes Camping for Two Hours With No Dialogue." But with the clarification of, no, what about novels, the Seven Skeletons author was glad to recommend Robert J. Sawyer's novel The Hominids.
"It's the first book in his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy," Pyne told us. "It's set in a neutrino observatory in Canada, and it opens up a portal, and – there's Neanderthals, there's modern humans. Sawyer did extensive research for his Neanderthals. He interviewed a ton of anthropologists, spent a lot of time going through the literature. In fact, when he was doing the research, I was an undergraduate at the Institute of Human Origins, working at Arizona State University, and I remember hearing some of the professors and the postdocs having talked to him about his research for the books. Sawyer's Neanderthals are sort of a hundred years later from Quest for Fire, so we end up with a more humanized take on Neanderthals, but if you're looking for fiction about Neanderthals that's accurate – well, as accurate as science fiction can be? The Hominids is what I would point to."