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Fire in the Stone (Early Classics of Science Fiction) [Hardcover]

Nicholas Ruddick

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Book Description

22 April 2009 Early Classics of Science Fiction
The genre of prehistoric fiction contains a surprisingly large and diverse group of fictional works by American, British, and French writers from the late nineteenth century to the present that describe prehistoric humans. Nicholas Ruddick explains why prehistoric fiction could not come into being until after the acceptance of Charles Darwin's theories, and argues that many early prehistoric fiction works are still worth reading even though the science upon which they are based is now outdated. Exploring the history and evolution of the genre, Ruddick shows how prehistoric fiction can offer fascinating insights into the possible origins of human nature, sexuality, racial distinctions, language, religion, and art. The book includes discussions of well-known prehistoric fiction by H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, J.-H. Rosny Aîné, Jack London, William Golding, Arthur C. Clarke, and Jean M. Auel and reminds us of some unjustly forgotten landmarks of prehistoric fiction. It also briefly covers such topics as the recent boom in prehistoric romance, notable prehistoric fiction for children and young adults, and the most entertaining movies featuring prehistoric humans. The book includes illustrations that trace the changing popular images of cave men and women over the past 150 years.

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More About the Author

Nicholas Ruddick was born in 1952 in Salford, near Manchester, England and moved to Canada in 1974. Since 1982 he has taught at the University of Regina, where he is currently Professor and Head of English. He's known both as a science fiction critic and as an editor of scholarly editions of novels written near the turn of the twentieth century. He's married to the Swedish-Canadian novelist Britt Holmstrom.

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"There is no other book that connects studies of evolution to mainstream fiction so thoroughly and thoughtfully." DAVID SEED, professor of American literature, Liverpool University"

About the Author

NICHOLAS RUDDICK is a professor of English at the University of Regina and author of Ultimate Island: On the Nature of British Science Fiction (1993).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As I write this, the book is already on back order--for a reason 29 April 2009
By Peter Swirski - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My favourite line comes in the second, thematic half of the book's discussion of prehistoric fiction. The author says that blaming (Darwin's bulldog) Huxley for sexism making as little sense as blaming Orville and Wilbur for 9/11. It's a brilliant, wickedly funny non sequitur that well summarized the charm, eloquence and sensibility of this study. The author must have read an astounding amount of fiction for that book. My interest was piqued by seeing numerous well-researched references to all matters Darwinian from the turn of the 19-20th centuries. One critical comment: the abbreviation of prehistoric fiction to "pf" did not work for me, detracted from the flow of highly polished prose and jarred stylistically. Otherwise, it was a pleasure to read learn something from almost every page. And the back-cover endorsements from the science fiction community could hardly be better.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best part of books like these... 15 Feb 2012
By Michael Valdivielso - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase they can become a source of information about more authors and books. Yes, I knew about H.G. Wells, and Jean M. Auel and Baxter and Rosney. But never heard of some of the stories, even if I know the authors. The field is just so huge. Not only does he show that fiction and science effect each other more than we would like to think but he also showed me just how little I understood about The Clan of The Cave Bear - frankly I was missing a lot of the finer details.
If you enjoy this book may I also suggest Prehistoric Humans in Film and Television: 581 Dramas, Comedies and Documentaries, 1905-2004, in which we see some of the results of these works being put onto the small and big screen? He does touch on some of the movies in his book and I think you may wish to explore them farther. Or not.
In the end, if you like sci-fi or pre-hist, however you wish to say it or look at it, this book is a must.
5.0 out of 5 stars recommend 16 Sep 2013
By Peggy C. Evans - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very hard read, but an excellent exchange of theories of evolution , Having read both authors, Charles Darwin and Jean Auel , this gives much room for thought. Fascinating . Mind boggling..
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fire in the stone 8 Dec 2012
By teapartywoman - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought it was going to be part of the series instead it was just a bunch of facts or opinions about Prehistoric Times.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why Can't English Professors Write English? 17 May 2012
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Because, first and foremost, they're professors who have spent their whole lives talking only to each other and their long-suffering students. Go to any page in this very disappointing work and you'll find the dead hand of turgid academic prose. The author may be using English words, but this is lit'ry criticism at its most obscure and self-referential. I found his point that you couldn't have prehistoric fiction until you had the concept of evolution to be interesting, but if you love to read Jean Auel and her compatriots (nonewithstanding the crushingly disappointing Land of Painted Caves which played her fans for suckers) this is not the book to learn about the genre. If on the other hand you're a university professor, you may find this as stimulating as have the other reviewers.
To give a bit of background, I have a Ph.D in modern European history from U of Chicago, my wife is a political scientist, I teach in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, and for decades we have found that our disciplines have strayed so far from the real world that most of our academic friends are embarassed to describe their pointlessly theoretical "research interests" to us. In my view, most people interested in popular fiction are interested in a compelling story and good writing. They would like to be pointed toward other authors and stories they might enjoy, and they probably will be interested in hearing about alternate perspectives and story arcs--in other words, they're looking for the literary equivalent of Roger Ebert or Netflix recommendations. That's certainly why I bought this book, and since you linked it to Auel, I would think that many potential buyers would share my motivation. Unless you wax nostalgic for your graduate lit seminars don't be fooled. Even Donald Sutherland in "Animal House" was honest about how boring and pointless academic literary study can be, and you don't have to be Bluto to agree.
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