Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Land of Painted Caves - Finally

The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M Auel
Well it's finally coming out, nine years after the previous book, "The Shelters of Stone". I started reading the series back in the late 1980s, if I recall correctly, when my mother and I were staying with my grandparents after my grandfather had a heart attack. They lived in a small town and the biggest selection of science fiction available was in Wal Mart.

I've always been more into hard science fiction, but after reading the novelization of Back To The Future I was willing to branch out a little. I bought the first three books in a paperback boxed set.

It's not a bad series. The author, Jean Auel, has reportedly done lots of research into actual prehistoric sites and artifacts, working them into her stories. No doubt some of the ideas included in the earlier books in the series have been displaced by subsequent research over the past three decades, but that is understandable; Arthur C. Clarke had similar issues with his Space Odyssey books. What's harder to swallow is the concentration of human innovations within the lives of the two main characters: animal domestication, tool invention, etc. But for a (Pre-)historical fiction one can easily suspend disbelief in this convergence enough to enjoy it. What's more off-putting is the apparent psychic phenomena and the practically Lamarckian race memory portrayed in the Neanderthals. If one approaches it as just being the characters' interpretations of drug-induced halucinations, it becomes tolerable enough to not get in the way of an otherwise interesting story.

I subsequently bought & read the next two books in hardcover, the first while in college, and the second after getting married and moving over 1000 miles away.

I've read the first three chapters of the new book at the Random House web site, and it looks to be setting up a few external and internal conflicts, and possibly a love triangle but that may be a red herring. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of lengthy re-exposition, thankfully, so if you haven't read the previous books there's a lot that won't make sense to you.

I've added it to my wish list. See all Jean M Auel's books, including several translations.