The Ugly Little Boy by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg

The Ugly Little Boy

by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg

Form: Novel

Year: 1992

ID: 1216

Publication history:

Blurb:

(from Bantam 1993)

To the astounded world of contemporary Earth, he is a beast, a Neanderthal ape-boy torn from the primordial past. But to his nurse and protector, he is something much more than a time-travel experiment. Edith Fellowes took the job with Stasis Technologies with the understanding that the nursing job would definitely be temporary...but all that changed upon meeting Timmie, the lonely boy whose every friend and relative — even his whole race — was 40,000 years dead.

Then Edith Fellowes discovers the scientists' true intentions, and she forms a bizarre and daring plan. At stake is Timmie's very existence...and her own.

Comments:

Another collaboration with Isaac Asimov, this one based on Asimov's 1958 short story of the same name. Like Nightfall, this story has vestiges of 1950s culture and attitudes. For one thing, it's hard to imagine a nurse of the 21st Century, especially one who specializes in pediatric care, being as stuffy and uptight as Miss Fellowes (which is what she likes to be called, and even how she thinks of herself) after the increase in casualness we've seen in the last thirty years. If you take the time-travel technology as given, there are still a few things about the situation that ring false for me. First of all, although the scientists knew very well that they were scooping a Neanderthal child from the past, Miss Fellowes was not told the child was not a modern human, not given the chance to study what is known of Neanderthal physiology and culture, and given only modern-style toys, clothes, and foods for him. Second, while the frustration of anthropologists studying Neanderthal culture but only having a child to examine and question was mentioned, little serious effort was made to learn his language. Having studied anthropology and linguistics, I felt that this aspect of the situation was sadly neglected. But all in all, it's an enjoyable read, with a good amount of emotional depth. The portions of the story that take place in the distant past are the best part, fascinating and quite reasonable.

Other resources:

[None on record]