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Orphan of Creation [Paperback]

Roger MacBride Allen

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Paperback, February 1988 --  
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Book Description

February 1988
On the day after tomorrow, on a farm in Mississippi, a palaeontologist unearths the bones of a creature that could never have lived in that time or place. In the forests of Western Africa, its discoverers come face to face with a miracle older than man. The author also wrote "Farside Cannon".
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Baen Books (February 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671653563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671653569
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.7 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,754,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, now back in print Feb. 21 2002
By Robert J. Sawyer - Published on Amazon.com
I finished reading this book a few days ago, and find myself constantly bringing it up in conversation with my wife and other people. It's extremely good: paleoanthropologically accurate, but also dead-on in its human psychology. More: it's one of those books that happens to be packaged as science fiction that could be read, and thoroughly enjoyed, by any thoughtful reader. Indeed, I used to say that no SF book would ever have a chance of being an Oprah's Book Club pick, but this one just might. Its soaring humanity, fascinating look at the concept of slavery (through the distorting lens of a group of African-American slaves having actually burried australopithecines who had been forced to work alongside them in the fields), and finely detailed (and completely believable) African-American female protagonist would make it a natural choice for Oprah. But it also should satisfy anyone who IS a science-fiction reader. It certainly satisfied this lifelong fan. I've written my own paleoanthropologically themed SF (HOMINIDS, from Tor Books), and deliberately waited until I'd finished before I started Allen's book, so as not to be influenced by it. Now that I have read it, it impressed the heck out of me. Five stars.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A keeper April 13 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
The year this book came out, my friends passed it around until the copies we had were tattered. We all thought Allen deserved to win the Campbell award for best new writer. I still have a "circulation" copy for others to read because it's so good.
The basic story line takes you from Africa to the Smithsonian Institue in Washington, DC, then to a startling discovery in the Southern States (remains of prehistoric man are found that only date back to the 1800's). The main character is a black woman, who's point of view is so convincing, I initially thought Allen was a pseudonym for a woman. She's not only dealing with an anthropological mystery, but also with everyday life and marital problems.
The anthropology and basic science presented in the story helps move the plot along, rather than interfering. In fact, by the end of the book, I found myself believing the events depicted really could happen!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book Aug. 12 2013
By Nell Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I finished this last night. Read through until 2am, even though I had to get up at 7am this morning.

I really enjoyed it, makes you think a lot. I liked the twists and characters, although the ending did seem a bit... rushed. The first half is so slow and methodical, then the last half just churns by, skipping months at a time, and not nearly as much focus on the initial characters... but I still really enjoyed it, and like I said, it kept me up til 2am!
5.0 out of 5 stars What if a group of primitive hominids had survived ?, March 7 2007
By Marshall Lord - Published on Amazon.com
Like Harry Turtledove's "A different Flesh" this superb book by Roger MacBride Allen takes as its starting point the survival of an early race of hominids and the enormous moral problems which might arise if humanity discovered a race of creatures which are human enough that we have to accept them as people but primitive enough that we cannot pretend even as a legal fiction that they are our equals.

The story starts when a paleontologist, who is an American of colour, is staying with her family, who have done well enough that they now own the plantation where their ancestors were once slaves. She finds some records indicating that the original owner had imported as slave labour a group of creatures who her ancestor described as apes. Intrigued she organises an archaological dig to try to find out what kind of ape could have been used in this way. She was not expecting what she finds ...

An example of one of the thought provoking ideas in the book - a journalist asks a distinguished scientist what question he would ask an Australopithicus, and he replies that he would ask "What is a person?" Later in the story he actually does get to meet a hominid closely related to Australopithecus, and on a whim he does ask her this question.

On the last page of the book we get her answer and, although of limited use as a wider definition, it would be completely convincing. If you want to know what it is, you'll have to read the book.
5.0 out of 5 stars What does it mean to be "human"? Jan. 22 2008
By Angie Boyter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a wonderful example of SF at its best. It is a fascinating story in its own right with a very interesting and well-conceived protagonist but it also gives insight into an important philosophical question: just what does it mean to be "human"?
Previous reviewer Rob Sawyer (one of the favorite SF writers and one of the VERY few I buy in hardback!) has commented on this being a book with interesting psychological interactions (a quality I find very well represented in his own books). The most prominent of these is the protagonist's struggle as an African-American with the lack of acceptance of the Neandertals in Africa. However, men to whom I have recommended this book have resonated especially to the protagonist's relationship with her husband, which is tested in an extraordinary way in the course of this book.
This is a book I have recommended highly to non-science-fiction readers with excellent response. For SF fans, this is a great way to convince your friends that SF is more than space ships and invading aliens!

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