Fiction & Humor

Orphan of Creation

by Roger MacBridge Allen
Trenton, NJ: Foxacre Press, 1988. 344 pages.

In Allen's 1988 novel, now back in print, the bones of an australopithecine are found in Mississippi, and are dated to the period just before the Civil War. As the evidence mounts that australopithecines are alive in the present day, the question of what it is to be human assumes a new urgency. According to Jim Foley's paleoanthropology fiction page at, Orphans of Creation also comments on the creation/evolution controversy.

The Clan of the Cave Bear

by Jean M. Auel
New York: Bantam Books, 1984. 528 pages.

First in the Earth's Children series of novels (also containing The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, The Plains of Passage, and The Shelters of Stone), The Clan of the Cave Bear tells the story of Ayla, a Cro-Magnon orphan found and raised by a clan of Neanderthals about 35 000 years ago. The Clan of the Cave Bear was a finalist for the National Book Award for First Novel, and the reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle raved, "Jean Auel has performed a minor miracle."

The Evolution Man

by Roy Lewis
New York: Vintage Books, 1994. 224 pages.

Originally published in 1960 as What We Did to Father, The Evolution Man follows the adventures of the primal horde, led by their inventive genius of a father. Familiar themes of paleoanthropological fiction are treated, although not in the sort of diction that is familiar in the genre: "Good gracious! ...

Darwin's Radio

by Greg Bear
New York: Ballantine Books, 2000. 544 pages.

The winner of the 2000 Nebula Award for the best science fiction novel of the year, Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio "draws on state-of-the-art biological and anthropological research to give us an ingeniously plotted thriller that questions everything we believe about human origins and destiny — as civilization confronts the next terrifying step in evolution" (to quote the jacket copy).

Last and First Men

by Olaf Stapledon
London: Libri, 1999. 307 pages.

First published in 1930, Last and First Men stretches over two billion years to describe the career of no fewer than eighteen species of human beings, beginning with the First Men, Homo sapiens. John Maynard Smith writes, "A book which probably had a bigger influence on me than anything I've ever read was written in 1933 [sic] by a man called Olaf Stapledon and called Last and First Men. It's quite an extraordinary book. ... This book completely blew my mind when I read it at the age of 15 or so.


by Kurt Vonnegut
New York: Dial Press, 1999. 336 pages.

"The thing was: One million years ago, back in 1986 A.D. ..." Thus begins Kurt Vonnegut's satirical look backwards at the future of human evolution, narrated by a ghost who tells the story of a group of vacationers stranded in the Galápagos when the apocalypse arrives. Their descendants subsequently evolve into a new species: furry, finned, fish-eating, and small of brain. "Vonnegut is a postmodern Mark Twain", writes the reviewer for The New York Times Book Review; "Galápagos is a madcap genealogical adventure."

2001: A Space Odyssey

by Arthur C. Clarke
New York: Roc, 2000. 297 pages.

A classic science fiction novel that not only features a mysterious alien artifact of unknown purpose (ripe for the application of Dembski's explanatory filter?) but also posits ongoing interference by extraterrestrials in the course of human evolution. Published alongside the release of the film directed by Stanley Kubrick, 2001 was followed by 2010: Odyssey Two, 2061: Odyssey Three, and most recently, 3001: The Final Odyssey. There is even a creationist web site that takes 2001 as its theme!


by Terry Pratchett
London: Corgi Books, 1988. 192 pages.

Before Terry Pratchett's career took off with the wildly popular Discworld series, he wrote Strata. Intended as a pastiche of Larry Niven's Ringworld, it also amusingly explores the Omphalos hypothesis: "Discovering two of her employees have placed a fossilized plesiosaur in the wrong stratum, not to mention the fact it is holding a placard which reads 'End Nuclear Testing Now', doesn't dismay the woman who built a mountain range in the shape of her initials during her own high-spirited youth. But then come a discovery of something which did intrigue Kin Arad.

Calculating God

by Robert J. Sawyer
New York: Tor Books, 2001. 352 pages.

From the cover: "An alien shuttle lands outside Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum. A six-legged being emerges, who says, in perfect English, 'Take me to a paleontologist.' It seems that Earth, and the alien's home planet, and the home planet of another alien species traveling on the alien mothership, all experienced the same five cataclysmic events at the same times in their prehistory (one was the asteroid impact that on Earth wiped out the dinosaurs). Both alien races believe this proves the existence of God: God has obviously been playing with the evolution of life on each of these planets.

Rapture of the Deep: The Art of Ray Troll

by Ray Troll, Brad Matsen, and David James Duncan
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2004. 148 pages.

From the publisher: "Rapture of the Deep collects some of Troll's best-known art along with many images never before published. The book makes powerful connections between biological diversity, the evolution of life on earth, and the careless habits of people. Rapture of the Deep celebrates Troll's vision with legendary works including 'Spawn Till You Die,' 'Life's a Fish and Then You Fry,' and 'Bassackwards,' in which fish use money, liquor, and literature as bait to lure humans. Troll's running commentary reveals the thought and inspiration behind his art.