" . . . the author has quite cleverly interweaved hisnarrative with a science lens to help us make sense of the Neanderthal'sactions . . . so the tag of science fiction/fantasy stands in this enjoyabletale."
-- December 9, 2016, "The Book Reviewers" Full MediaLtd.
The Night of theEleventh Sun by Steven Burgauer
Existence as aNeanderthal is explored through the life of a clan leader: hunting, familyproblems, a declining clan, mysterious strangers and keeping the spirits happyare just some of the issues facing Strong Arms in this enjoyable tale.
A typical science fiction book will project you so manyyears into the future and wow you with all that has been achieved or dismay youwith the awfulness that is our possible destiny. Not so for Steven Burgauer's latest book, TheNight of the Eleventh Sun, which takes us back to the dawn of our time.
But it is not us that are his focus; we are a mere bit partin this tale. Rather it is our rivalhominid species, the Neanderthal, that takes centre stage. Hold on a minute, I hear you utter, does thatnot make it historical fiction rather than sci-fi? Well, possibly, but the author has quitecleverly interweaved his narrative with a science lens to help us make sense ofthe Neanderthal's actions. Clearly muchof the science resides in the theoretical realm; ideas are pieced together fromfragmented clues collected by decades of patient anthropological endeavours, sothe tag of science fiction/fantasy stands.
Initially there is a simplicity to the narrative that leadsyou to think that this might be pitched at a younger audience, but don't befooled. Once the voracious sex lives ofthe Neanderthals are covered you know that this is definitely not for children! It is clear from what we learn about theeveryday lives of the clan that their lives were similar to our own clanancestors: use of tools for hunting and preparation, plants for healing,creativity, abstract thinking and philosophising. However, there is a question mark forever lurkingwhilst you read: why did they not endure? The clan in the story is one in decline,weakened by infighting, high infant mortality and threats from other, moresuccessful and "different" clans. Any,or all of these reasons may explain the Neanderthal's demise, but it is tooeasy to dismiss them as a species that wasn't "fit" enough to survive; partlyas they continue to exist genetically within many of us but also, as the bookdemonstrates well, we have much still to learn about their cultural legacy.