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REVIEW – The Fire in The Stone : Prehistoric Fiction from Charles Darwin to Jean M. Auel (2009) By Nicholas Ruddick

November 5, 2010

I was not what you would call a big reader as a child. In fact, I did not read a book for fun until I was 14 years old.  Instead, my childhood was one dominated by film.  Every summer, I would go to my mother’s place in Switzerland and I would pay for a two-for-one video rental card and I would watch either two or four films a day.  Terrible films mostly drawn from the European exploitation film tradition of the 1970s and 1980s.  Films mostly in French.

One of the upshots of this is that my reference points for genre (whether history, fantasy or SF) are very different to those of most anglophonic genre fans.  One particular difference is the relative importance of prehistoric fiction.  In English-speaking circles, prehistoric fiction is a relatively minor cul de sac.  In French-speaking circles, prehistoric fiction is a genre of comparable importance to science fiction.

Because of my Francophonic reference points, reading Nick Ruddick’s The Fire in the Stone was something of a homecoming.  The book is a critical survey of the history of prehistoric fiction that makes an elegant case for its inclusion in the speculative genre tradition alongside Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.  In fact, Ruddick even goes so far as to suggest that we speak not of prehistoric fiction but of PF.

Cheryl Morgan’s new venue Salon Futura has my review of the book.

For an example of a rather splendid work of PF look no further than Stephen Baxter’s last novel Stone Spring (2010), which I recently reviewed for THE ZONE.  The equally splendid Dan Hartland also reviewed the book for Strange Horizons prompting some discussion on his blog.

I was also lucky enough to interview Nick Ruddick about The Fire in The Stone but I am still waiting to hear back from the venue I pitched it to.

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