The second Geodyssey volume from Piers Anthony, 'Shame of Man' follows the lives of Hugh and Ann, illuminating as they do eight million years of history. The self-contained formula of 'Isle of Woman' is maintained; however, characters from that novel usefully return as occasional backdrop. The scenery remains wonderfully varied, with the narrative opening in the Great Rift Valley and continuing as far afield as Vietnam, Newfoundland and Scotland's Orkney Islands.The strongest of the twenty scenarios occurs 3,000 years ago, around the time of King David. Anthony's choice of Philistine characters here illustrates his approach: he doesn't always avoid the history textbooks' ground, but is nonetheless loath to retread conventional paths. Thus we see Japan visited in the third century AD, and on Genghis Khan's rise to fame we see an enemy's colossal misjudgment where other authors might substitute triumphant slaughter. The requisite Mediterranean setting is not Rome but New Carthage; similarly, when the story touches down in 1862 the siege is not of Richmond but of Shanghai, where millions died in the Taiping rebellion.Anthony expresses concern that global catastrophe lurks around the corner, and this is brought home to the reader most clearly in the microcosm of Easter Island (neatly sandwiched between Genghis and Scheherazade). Indeed, even the characters gradually become aware of it. The future of the sensible ones is glimpsed in Tasmania half a century hence. The use to which they put their technology, and their need to do so, is rich food for thought.