Redheaded Neanderlady

Redheaded Neanderlady
This is a photoshopped version of something I found in National Geographic about the time I started researching

Friday, November 23, 2007

Neandertals,anthropology, writing

Every time I write something about Neandertals, it seems I get a response. Even though this is supposed to be a writer's blog! And a science fiction writer's blog, at that! But hey, that's nice. The latest mention of my efforts is in the most recent edition of Four Stone Hearth. Four Stone Hearth is a biweekly anthropology blog "carnival". And there are a lot of interesting links there. And you can find a link to my Cavemen, the TV Show piece posted on October (you'll have to scroll down a bit to find it; just look for the title above). Or you can read it right hiere. Thanks, Tim, for uploading the link. This is much appreciated.
Anne G

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Greg Laden again

"Did they or didn't they", the first line of the Greg Laden blog, re the Cioclovina fossil says. He thinks they "did". But the article itselv(soon to be published in a journal), doesn't quite see it that way. Nevertheless, Laden is to be commended for this, his latest entry!
Anne G

Let's get medieval

Sometimes you just stumble across good stuff that may stimulate that Writer's Muscle, completely by accident. I was reading Elizabeth Chadwick's blog Living the History today, and found this. It's in the latest entry. The title, The Senses in Late Medieval England, is kind of misleading, since it covers "earlier" medieval times as well. It's apparently a "scholarly" book, but the kind that, for writers writing in the period(or any other period a "scholar" may cover, which interests the writer), can add interesting detail that can help flesh out a story. It seems to have many examples, e.g. making the sign of the crosss when yawning, to prevent devils from entering the body through the mouth. Sounds wonderfully stimulating!
Anne G

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The "writing" muscle(metaphorically speaking) Part II

This isn't exactly about the "writing muscle", but it affects how the "writing muscle" may be used. To explain: I belong to several writers' e-mail lilsts, and from time to time, quiestions about POV(point of view) come up. Also questions --- always important --- of what agents and publishers will accept in certain genres.

For example, it has been asserted that, in historical novels, a female POV main character is preferred, because women are the main readers of historical novels. No, not historical romances --- historical novels. This may or may not be true. OTOH, there are writers, both male and female, who prefer to write male POV's for various reasons. One author I've corresponded with, has "fallen in love" with certain (male) historical characters, and while she started out writing things with female POV's, she is presently doing a lot of writing from the "male" POV. Theoretically, there is nothing wrong with that; in some periods, it's just a lot easier to find "interesting" male characters without "digging", especially if you insist, if this author does, for a variety of reasons I won't go into here, that the characters must reflect the "thinking" of whatever historical period they'rw writing about. Again, there's nothing wrong with that --- up to a point. There is nothing potentially more annoying than having some female character acting like a "feminist"(whatever that may be), 500 years before feminism was "invented". OTOH, there's also nothing wrong with "bending" the social rules a little, as long as you don't have your character "bending" them too much. But again, some writers insist on not "bending" what they imagine to be the "rules" of a past period, this, despite the fact that, in reality, past and present, social rules are "bent" all the time, with varying consequences. The people who "bent" them weren't always famous enough or noted enough to get written about, though. This applies, to both male and female characters.

Going a little farther with this, how do you even choose whether or not to have a "male" or "female" POV in any piece of writing? As a general rule, most male writers tend to stick with a "male" POV, though I hasten to add that there are plenty of exceptions here. Women --- as a general rule --- again, there are notable exceptions, which I'll come to in a moment --- tend to write in either POV, depending on the kind of story they're writng. The exception is romance, although even here, there may be "switches" from male to female POV's. But then, romance is almost exclusively a woman writer's domain; other genres, with the exception of thrillers, are created by both men and women(and even that may be breaking down; just recently a woman wrote a thriller).

In general, it seems to me that people write in the POV that seems to best fit the story. If it's more "action oriented", the writer may decide a male protagonist is the best choice. If there are lots of scenes where emotion and interpersonal relationships are involved, female POV's may work better, but again,t here is lots of overlap. OTOH, some people can't comfortably write novels featuring the "opposite" sex. Bernard Cornwell's novels seem to be of this type. They are very good and well-written and interesting, but his female characters tend to be rather interchangeable and "flat", and his emphasis is on lots of "action". Novels like this are what I call "guy books". Again, nothing wrong with these; they are basically the male equivalent of romance(and there's nothing wrong with well-written romance, either).

But unless we are Bernard Cornwell wannabes writing "guy books", or romance writers, or people who are just plain uncomfortable writing about the "opposite" sex, there will always be a question of who the protagonist should be. And this is where the "writing muscle" comes in. What kind of a story is it? Thriller/novel with lots of battles and actions? Romance? Science fiction? Mystery? Or something else, perhaps a combination of all of these, or "literary" fiction? Most of these genres or story types could use a protagonist of either sex, but which one is chosen, would depend on the type of story being told. If it's about someone with a "past", it may well be more conceptually easy to imagine the protagonist as female, and the writer will then go with a female POV, though there may well(or, in my view, should)be a strong male character or two. If it involves lots of action, particularly if it's historical action, a male POV may work better, though this, too, can be a mixed bag. I can speak from my own experience here. My first attempt had an alternating male and female POV. Both were strong characters, and both(eventually)came together to fight a "bigger problem". I'm still working on this one; it's kind of "on the shelf for now". The second attempt was about one of the characters from the first novel, who was a child at the time; now she is fifteen years old. And I felt it had to be a female protagonist, because it was what is sometimes called a "coming of age story". But I never thought of it that way; I just tried to remember my own experiences of being that age, and projected it into the near future. This too has not quite jelled. The third attempt is the one I'm writing now. There is a main female protagonist and two "strong secondary" females, who may get their own stories later on. And there are two main male characters, both of them emotionally involved, though in different ways, with the main female character. Plus there are two "secondary" male characters. This is the most "balanced" of my attempts, and it's in historical time, and has what one friend of mine calls a "cast of thousands". Originally, this was going to be a mainly "female" POV, but as I wrote it, certain characters just grew and grew, and I had to add more strong male characters. Again, I don't think there is anything wrong with this process. For a writer, it just is.

So, when it comes down to it, I don't really have any "advice". I just used my "writing muscle", which, in me, is quite well-developed. But if you, dear reader, want to write, and you don't think yours is very well-developed, don't despair. There are ways to strengthen "writing muscles", just as there are ways to strengthen and tone your body(as I have found out over the past week, and continue to find out). I'll suggest some in a later post. Nothing profound, just things you can try. And even if you don't think writing something creative is for you, you still need not despair, because your "writing muscle" is basically nothing more than a "creativity muscle", directed in certain ways. And everyone has a creative side!
Anne Gqq

Friday, November 16, 2007

The "writing" muscle(metaphorically speaking) Part I

A few days ago, I started an exercise program, mainly because, one morning, so to speak, I woke up "feeling flabby". I hadn't been getting the kind of exercise I should have been. And, for my birthday, I was entered into a local YMCA membership. Which meant I could take all the classes free of charge, and use their "workout" rooms any time I want. I am taking three different classes now, and I will be adding a fourth one the week after Thanksgiving(mostly because it won't be held the day after Thanksgiving, due to "late" opening). Be that as it may, I've learned/noticed a couple of things, after only a few days.

First of all, there are some things that "come easy" to me, even though at the moment, I'm more or less "out of shape" at the moment. I'm fairly flexible, and fairly "enduring". I was able to use a treadmill for a full 30 minutes(which I didn't think I could do), twice, and a bicycle for 20 minutes, and these activities got my heart rate up and "got me going". I also discuvered that in sopme workouts, I could use heavier dumbells and rubber tubes, than I thought I could. And I have a lot more endurance than I thought I had. Which, as the trainer I spoke to said, was a Good Thing, though not in so many words. Other things, like coordination of arms and legs, are somewhat harder, though one class(basically salsa steps and dancing) taught me that it's easier to do some of these things if you're having fun and dancing, rather than just plain exercise. Other things, I just have to "work up" to. I will probably be able to start doing more "strenuous" things in a few months, if not sooner. But I'm going to play it by ear, as they say.

Looking back at the beginning of a "writing career", it's interesting to see the parallels. There was a time, and not all that long ago, that I never thought I'd be actively reading aarchaeological journals, and papers dealilng with medieval subjects. It just never occurred to me that I might be doing this. For that matter, I never even thought I'd be trying to combine historical subjects with "prehistoric" ones, nor did I ever think I might even begin to write anything remotely resembling science fiction! Let alone writing a blog and monitoring an e-mail list. But I'm doing all of these things. And, of course, writing.

My first efforts at writing, resulted in something that tried to be like Terry Brooks' Shannara series, but after two tries at creating something, it just didn't work, although I ended up "mining" some "backstory" for what was supposed to be a "prequel" but turned out to be an independed story, set in the near future, in a former Western Washington timber town, whose existence is not unlike some former Western Washington timber towns, but is a complete product of my imagination. I felt I had to write this huge, unmanageable "epic" because of the way so many people seemed to be thinking about Neandertals --- and some people still do. I felt, based on my reading of various lines of literature, that this was a mistake, but I wasn't a scientist, so I had to "correct" it fictionally. As I said, my first effort didn't quite work, nor did my earliest version of Song of the Forest, my "near future" sci-fi piece. That's still"on the shelf" at the moment. As is my second effort Inside, Outside, also set in this imaginary timber town, and seen through the eyes of a fifteen year old(Neandertal) girl.

But each of these efforts resulted in a strengthening of my "writing muscle". And I found, now that I'm deep into the second book of my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neandertals, that this "writing muscle" is much stronger! I have a better idea of how to write, as I keep writing. And I've also listened to my "inner voice" which pretty much demanded that this story, based on some very real historical events, must be written. In a way, this is not unlike what I found when starting my exercise class: I found that I didn't need to use 2-lb dumbells; I could just as easily use 3-lb ones without getting too "worked up". But on the other hand, it took a while to get to that realization; I'd tried another exercise class elsewhere, and gotten discouraged. Basically, in that one, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And it took me a long time to gather up the courage to start writing my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neandertals! I read and read a lot of "academic" material about the period I was interested in, and learned as much as I could about the historical characters that appear in this story, but as I also subscribe to a list of medievalists, I was terribly afraid that they would be critical of my idea when it finally got published and printed, that I held myself back. At some point(don't ask me when; it just happened), I decided that the story was yelling too loudly at me to just write it, that the professional medievalists didn't matter any more(although I still hope they won't be too critical when it gets written and published; it's my "baby"). And I'm glad I did, though the process itself hasn't always been smooth. But one thing I've found out in both exercising and writing is, that persistence is important And I'm good at that.

So, I'll sign off this long post for now, and more on related material in a bit,
Anne G

The Neanderbounty never ends!

A lot of stuff about Neandertals has been coming out lately. And this interview, on the John Hawks blog, is more of the same. Especially intriguing is the apparent fact that the famous Teshik-Tash child seems to cluster, genetically, with European Neandertals, although earlier reports claimed it was more "modern". But there 's more to it than that. . . .read the interview, and see for yourself.
Anne G

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Whee, yippee!

Yay, too! Julien Riel-Salvatore's blog, A Very Remote Period Indeed, has linked my posts from yesterday(on the overhyped Boston Globe article about Neandertals), to one of his blog entries for today. So thank you, Julien Riel-Salvatore, even if you don't agree with some of my conclusions. Now if I can just get some science fiction publisher to link here, once my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neandertals is finished. . . .
Anne G

Monday, November 12, 2007

Blog: active, or not?

I got a bit of a comment the other day, suggesting that my blog hasn't been very "active" lately. Let me reassure you: It's always "active" in some fashion. There may be times when I don't post very often, because I'm either hard at work on my book, or dealing with the rest of my life, or adding links to other blogs I come across, that may be worthy of the reader's attention. And some things, like book reviews, will be added when I find something interesting, or "when the spirit moves me". But my spirit does move, and if you don't see too many posts at times, it just means I'm busy with my writing and my life!
Anne G


Whee! I got a very nice compliment from Shobhan Bantwal, whose book The Dowry Bride, I reviewed a few posts back. Thank you, Ms. Bantwal. We writers should be supportive of one another.
Anne G

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Silly picture

Here is the silly picture of hunting Neandertals, from which I derived some of my comments. Note the garments. If you do, you'll see why it's silly.
Anne G

Stone Age "feminism"

Today the Boston Globe has a piece called Stone Age Feminism? which purports to explain why Neandertals are no longer among us. This explanation(which I'll get to in a moment) is rather silly, as is the accompanying picture(I'll explain the silliness of that a bit later, too).

What it does do, and does rather well, is summarize the latest research on Neandertals: there is a bit about the discovery of the "modern" type of FOXP2 gene, which, combined with the existence of "modern" type hyoid bones, strongly suggests Neandertals had language, as we do. There is also some more about "flame haired Neandertals", this due to the presence of a type of MC1R gene, which in some forms, suppresses certain types of melanin in skin and hair, and gives the possessor of such a gene, red hair. Some Neandertals apparently had such a variant, although it is apparently not quite the same as that of modern northern Europeans with red hair, though John Hawks has other opinions about this. He thinks that, at best, Neandertals may well have been light skinned, but "only" reddish blond.

But the real "kickers" in this article are the explanation, by a husband-and-wife team of archaeologists, as to why Neandertals became extinct, and the picture that accompanies the article.

First, the MaryStiner/Steven Kuhn explanation: basically, they claim that Neandertals became extinct because the women hunted, alongside the men. According to this theory, they were vulnerable to being gored or stomped or trampled or otherwise injured as they hunted alongside their men. Okay. I don't know. There are some modern hunter-gatherer groups where women have been known to hunt alongside men, at least under some circumstances, for one thing. It's also well-known among anthropologists, that other perfectly "modern" humans had women who assumed "hunting" roles if necessary; hunter-gatherers(or more properly, "foragers") often don't have the kind of rigidly-defined sex roles many people "expect" everyone to have. In any case, if this is true, there is no reason to assume Neandertals were any more or less rigid about these things(this, despite the efforts of some popular authors like Jean Auel)than any given "modern" group. In other words, looking at what archaeological evidence exists, Neandertals probably had the same behavioral ranges as "modern" humans do.

Which leads to the question of Stiner/Kuhn's conclusions. What they claim is, that the Neandertal practice of such equality(if that's what it was), made the women more "vulnerable", since it is women who have children; if they got killed, there went another possible addition to the tribe, or whatever. It also supposedly made them more vulnerable, because if the women didn't hunt, they could go out and gather seeds and nuts, or whatever. Which is just another way of saying "shame on you, you don't follow 'traditional' sex roles or division of labor"!

In a way, I can see their point; according to some anthropologists who have studied Neandertals extensively, Neandertals may well have been among the smallest human populations ever to have inhabited Earth. I think the 10,000 figure is decidedly low, overall, but 10,000 of them, at any given time in the period of their existence may be "on target". And with populations of that size at any given time, the loss of one member of the tribe, band, family group, or however they organized themselves, would have been considerable, to say the least. But Stiner and Kuhn don't stop to consider that it's far more likely that Neandertals, just like other human groups, had some kind of sexual division of labor, just like "modern" groups do, even if it wasn't organized exactly the way such divisions among "modern" groups are. For example, if a woman was pregnant, it may not have been customary for her to do any "group hunting" for obvious reasons. Very young children might also not have hunted, for all we know. Absent a time machine, we'll never know, but it seems reasonable that Neandertals at least tried to assure that women could have children safely. As for gathering seeds and nuts, etc., I think the idea that the women "didn't" stems from the idea that they ate nothing but meat. Well, I suspect that they ate a lot of meat, all right. After all they lived in a climate that was probably frozen over for a good six months of the year. But I also think they probably gathered plant food when it was available; food on the hoof was just their most reliable source of sustenance in that kind of climate. And no doubt there were women and children who gathered these things. Again, absent a time machine, we'll never know.

Stiner and Kuhn are good archaeologists, and they've done valuable work. But their thesis of Neandertal extinction just doesn't make much sense. It only sounds plausible, because most "modern" societies have the kind of "recognizable" sexual division of labor where women, generally, do not hunt. Certainly, if you go to certain rural parts of the US, you don't see too many women hunters, though there is a strong "hunting culture" in many of these places. So, perhaps, Stiner and Kuhn are influenced by these kinds of cultural considerations. But this doesn't make their explanation of Neandertal extinction any more plausible, at least not to me. Still, I guess you could say it's an entertaining explanation.

The article has some other paleoanthropologists and archaeologists sounding off about this topic. There is Richard Klein, who is still going around claiming Neandertals lacked some "brain mutation" that "modern" humans(and only "modern" humans)supposedly possessed. Recent evidence, from Africa, moreover, seems to suggest he is wrong, but that didn't stop the Boston Globe from quoting him. Then there is Daniel Lieberman, who went so far as to claim that Neandertals would look "weird" to us if they were resurrected, but we would (somehow) have less trouble sending one to Harvard! Again, this doesn't make much sense to me; "weird" in what way? The most "modern" artistic reconstructions make them look a little "different" in some ways, but hardly "weird"! Unless you consider a large and prominent nose "weird". Considering that lots of people have rather big noses, that seems an odd statement to make. Or is it the prominent browridges? But then, some early "moderns"(notably at the Moravian site of Mladec) have large nasal openings and fairly prominent browridges too. It is only after the advent of agriculture that tthe "gracile" form most of us exist in today, really came into being. And that was long after the existence of Neandertals. As for going to Harvard. . . well, it would seem Neandertals had brains that worked pretty much like ours do, if the archaeological evidence is anything to go by.

Finally, there is the picture that accompanies the Boston Globe article. About all I can say about it is, the hunters are dressed in a way that suggests "primitive" by artistic conventions. But on the other hand, if Neandertals really dressed only in those fur outfits with one arm hole, it's really no wonder they are extinct! They would surely have frozen to death in Ice Age winters in such outfits!
Anne G

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Exotic writers?

This is the first in a series of periodic book reviews. I will be reviewing and commenting on any books that seem interesting, more or less "as the spirit moves me". Some will be "relevant" to what I'm writing, but writers should read a lot of things, so they may not be about science fiction or medieval history, or Neandertals. But if it looks interesting to me, I'll do my best to explain why.

Yesterday, I was browsing around in the local library, after running some errands. The main library in Seattle is always an interesting place --- the floor where they have the newest fiction and nonfiction, has essentially been designed to be a giant solarium. It's all glass, and even on the rainiest and most disheartening days(and Seattle has enough of these at this time of year), it feels full of light. it was here that I found a most interesting book called The Dowry Bride. The author is one Shobhan Bantwal, and this appears to be the only book she's written --- so far.
There are several things that are interesting about this book. The first is, that while the author is of East Indian heritage, she is writing a piece of "popular" fiction, which is quite unusual(as she points out in her Afterward)for an author of East Indian heritage. Another fascinating feature of the book is, that for non-Indian readers, it's a peek into a slice, if you will, of contemporary Indian life. And even more interesting, she wrote it as a (sort of) romance.

The premise may at first seem offputting: a young woman runs away from her husband and his family because they are plotting to tie her up and set her on fire so he can marry somebody else. The reason? Her parents are not rich, but they are trying to cough up dowry money in installments. This does not satisfy the mother-in-law, who is basically the villain of the piece, and quite an unpleasant one at that. Essentially, the woman's parents have themselves been deceived; they thought her husband's family was very well-off, but it turns out they are not only not as well-off as they said they were, but they are excessively "conservative"(in terms of contemporary India, at least), and basically pretty stultifying. But then, as Ms. Bantwal points out, these "dowry killings" are also a part of contemporary India, unfortunately.

When Megha, the young heroine, runs away, she manages to find her way to the very contemporary living quarters of her cousin-in-law, Kiran Rao, who is well-off, well-educated, and has a much more modern outlook. Furthermore, he has been in love with her from the moment he saw her --- at her wedding to her unsatisfactory husband.

Neither of them feel they can fulfill their desires; he has to try to keep her safe from her would-be assassins; she has feelings for him, but has been too "conservatively" brought up to act on them, but would like to. What each of them do about this situation, and how they change their outlook, forms the bulk of the book.

This is not a "typical" romance; there are parts of it that, from a "non-Indian" point of view seem quite odd. There is one scene where an old grandmother confesses to having been molested by an "untouchable" man, and the result was the villainous mother-in-law. But perhaps Ms. Bantwal wanted to show that this was a somewhat old fashioned attitude; in the same scene, she has Megha remark that an "untouchable" man came to their house to do heavy work, and was actually quite nice. Even Bollywood seems to have caught on to this, if some recent works I've heard about are anything to go by, but on the other hand, India is still India, and there's no question that some attitudes take longer --- in any culture --- to change, than others.

While this book is not great literature, and the manuscript could have used an editor in places, it is extremely entertaining. Better yet, it gives some insight into some aspects of India today. And that's a good thing. Many readers fall into ruts in their reading habits, but perhaps if Shobhan Bantwal keeps on writing(she says she's working on another book), and encourages other people of East Indian heritage to do the same, perhaps some of us mentally curious folk will learn more about this extremely old, rich, complex, yet forward-looking culture. For that matter, she should probably encourage people from all kinds of cultures to write about contemporary life for "popular" audiences. Our horizons need to be broadened periodically.
Anne G

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fantasy? Or not?

There has been an interesting discussion going on at various historical writers' blogs lately, generated by a discussion on an e-mail list about the differences between "historical fantasy", "historical fiction", etc. I should note that, try as I might, I couldn't track the URLs down; I didn't save them. They're in some of those blogs, though.

But the gist of these discussions was this: Why some writers(and readers) don't like fantasy, and why does(or deosn't) certain kinds of fantasy work very well. In particular, "historical fantasy", which is defined as historical events "assisted" by non-means, or "alternate history"(which should be self-explanatory) came in for criticism.

Just for the record, I do read fantasy. I always have. I can't even remember a time when I wasn't reading science fiction, though there must have been such a time when I was very young. So, in a way, I can't understand why some people don't like fantasy --- except that some people don't, and I happen to live with one. In this person's case, I can understand why: it had a lot to do with the opportunities she had to read much of anything in the rural community she was brought up in. Besides which, her parents never had much money anyway, and the public libr4ary system in that area could only be described as "crappy".

But the author who said she didn't like fantasy(and who writes historical fiction), was another matter. She just never did like fantasy of any kind. Not even what are mistakenly called "fairy tales", even as a child. I can sort of understand; there are authors that some of these writers absolutely adore, but I can't stand(I won't go into that here, at this time, however). A lot of this is a matter of taste.

Unless the person in question never really, psychologically, was a child, or else was brought up to think that you "put away childish things" once you get past a certain age. There are a lot of people like that, and it's hard for them to give up their long-cherished beliefs about what is right and proper. And maybe we shouldn't even try.

Be that as it may, the discussion was quite interesting, because it touched on the kind of material I'm writing. It's set in medieval England, and closely(at least as closely as I can) follows real historical events. But three of the most important characters are Neandertals from a refuge planet, where they have learned space travel from "sasquatch-like" beings. They also have certain abilities not found in "modern" humans, though I(sort of) posit that these abilities stem from genetic material found in the so-called "junk genes"(which aren't all that junky, apparently). So my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpieces With Neandertals(it's turning into a trilogy)may seem "fantastic" to some people, and therefore may turn them off. This, despite the fact that there is no other "fantasy" involved, no "alternate realities" or "alternate history", just the factual history. So what would you call my book? I like to call it "romantic science fiction"; there's no such actual category, but it's very "romantic" and is somewhat like romance in that most of the characters end up happily.

Finally, I can see why some people don't like "historical fantasy"; certain authors try to "play" with historical characters and situations by adding "magical" elements. And unless the author knows exactly what they're doing, this just doesn't work. One quite awful recent example was Judith Tarr's Rite of Conquest. The premise was utterly ridiculous, if you know anything about the period involved. And Tarr is generally a good novelist. Even I, who am generally tolerant of fantasy elements, since I like good fantasy anyway, had trouble with this one.

None of this really answers the question of why some people don't like fantasy, but it raises a lot of interesting issues about what readers will tolerate, and what they won't.
Anne G

Monday, November 5, 2007

Our cousins, the "cavemen", again

Just as I finished one blog, from a scientist who was kind enough to list my humble blog on his bloglist, I come across another gem, this one at Julien Riel-Salvatore's blog A Very Remote Period Indeed. I should add, for clarification, that A Very Remote Period Indeed can be found listed under Anthropology and Prehistory on the right-hand side of this blog. He blogs primarily on prehistoric archaeology and human evolution. And I find his views generally extremely informative. This particular blog was generated by a column by the anthropologist Meredith Small --- regarding the latest finds on Neandertals, naturally, to wit, that at least some of them had red hair and they had the exact same "talk" gene "we" do. Which, in her view makes them a lot more sophisticated than many people like to believe. But then, I've always known two very important things: one, that there were Neandertals with red or at leat "light" hair, skin, and eyes, and that they most certainly could talk! They talk quite a lot in my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neandertals. And they're pretty sophisticated, too.
Anne G

More Greg Laden

I should add that Greg Laden writes on a variety of scientifically-tinged subjects, and some "topical" ones. Perhaps not much to interest the writers who may happen by here, but on the other hand, there's plenty of food for thought there, and that's something a writer or potential writer should always look out for.
Anne G

Thank you, Greg Laden!

I had been thinking about creating another post, to start November off with a blast, but Greg Laden's newest version of his blog appropriately named Greg Laden's blog, lists The Writer's Daily Grind on his blog! Yay! It's a very special yay, because I'm not a scientist, and all the other blogs he lists are from scientists! True, I'm writing "romantic" science fiction that features Neandertals in one capacity or another. And it's also true that my current efforts --- currently finishing Book 2 of my epic --- are set in medieval England. And he might not necessarily agree with the general thrust of my literary efforts. But I do appreciate hisl listing my blog anyway. Because we've "known" each other for quite a while now. There used to be a site called Palanth, which was kind of a meeting place for those who were serious about discussing various aspects of human evolution. And he had a lot of things to say about human evolution. Sometimes we disagreed. But I've always respected his ideas, and will continue to do so. I can't imagine doing anything else. So, to return the favor, I'm going to add Greg Laden's newest blog to my own list. Which I would urge any visitor here, to read.

So, once again, thank you Greg Laden,
Anne G