Looking 32,000 Years into the Past

Thirty-two thousand years ago, the Earth would have been unrecognizable. The planet was in the throes of an Ice Age, now-extinct beasts roamed freely and Neanderthals may have lived alongside modern humans. Science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson imagines this long-past world in his newest book, "Shaman," due out Sept. 3 from Orbit Books. The book follows the life of an apprentice shaman named Loon and a group of modern humans who painted the Chauvet Cave in southern France. " I've been interested a super-long time in this part of human history and one of the triggers was the discovery of the iceman in the glacier between Italy and Austria in '91. He was frozen with all of his gear. When I saw the photos and descriptions of his gear, I realized it was almost the same as my backpacking gear, but instead of being made of nylon and aluminum, it was made of cloth and straw and wood and leather. What are we? What can we expect to become? How do we use technology? Is there a utopian future possible for us? In all of these questions, it becomes really important to understand how we evolved to what we are now and what we were when we were living the life that grew us as human beings in the evolutionary sense," says Robinson.

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