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Orphan of Creation Paperback – Feb 1988

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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: #2,229,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Excellent book, now back in print Feb. 21 2002
By Robert J. Sawyer - Published on
Format: Paperback
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
A keeper April 13 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
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
Good book Aug. 12 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
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!
The Book is better than the Title :-) Oct. 29 2012
By Colin J. Clarke - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm an armchair paleoanthropologist, with a library full of books written over the past 25 years regarding 'the human journey'. I also happen to be a genealogist, and more recently, a 'genetologist' ?? having had my full genetic sequence reported back to me to help with my family history (Y DNA paternal trail; my maternal 'roots' via mtDNA; and my broader family connections via autosomal results.) So, picking up a novel structured around the discovery of 'recently living' complete skeletons of Australopithicines by (fortunately) some well educated and experienced employees of the Smithsonian, and which offered descriptions of an archaeological dig and the resulting research including DNA sampling, was a nice fit for me.

Without giving too much away, the story shifts into high gear as the 'team' then seeks to find the source of such 'recent' Australopithicines, and (of course) they find the living descendants in darkest Africa. At this stage, there is a shift in emphasis by the author to themes which consider the religious implications of creation - what is human what is not - and at what point can such animals/beings/early humans be considered to be worthy of 'humane' treatment in the real sense of the word. As it turns out, DNA tests place the discovered species on the 'human side of the tracks', and the fire is well and truly lit when some 'modern era' interbreeding with 'humans' is proven to have occurred. There are many twists and turns, in a short book. Perhaps the book ends too suddenly - although the enormity of the problem for our human race, when we suddenly have living cousins we didn't know about, is probably better left for several other volumes. Guess who's coming to dinner, all over again ... LOL

Roger MacBride Allen has written an enjoyable book - generally on target scientifically, and with some good subplots. The entire concept raises some interesting questions about our ethical stance as the only 'human' race, and asks 'what is a human'.

When you read the book, and although you know with a fair degree of certainty that Australopithicines do not still inhabit the earth (OK, maybe one or two with big feet), it still will make you think a little more deeply the next time you look into the wise brown eyes of a chimpanzee who will spend 20 years or more locked in a small cage.

Worth a read.
What if a group of primitive hominids had survived ?, March 7 2007
By Marshall Lord - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.

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