This is really just a notification that I shall pretty soon be submitting the first chapters of my next novel, Glade and Ivory.
Unlike my other most recent novels this one isn’t set in the future and compared to both the Anomaly Trilogy and No Future, this novel is fairly sequential and doesn’t jump around nearly as much in time or space.
However, not only is it not set in the future or even the present or the recent past, this novel is set some thirty or forty thousand years ago in the Ice Age.
Human Beings of one kind or another have been around for several million years, our genus is probably around a million years old and our species something like 100,000 years. At least 90% of our species’ history time was spent during the last Ice Age: one which was probably the most severe glacial epoch yet and during which relatively little is known but enough to delineate the broad outline.
Humanity emerged from Africa about 60,000 years ago at which time the 13 or so surviving groups of human (whether race or sub-species I don’t know) had already evolved and of which only one was set to spread around the rest of the world. And this it did very slowly, taking less time to get to Australia than to arrive in Europe and displace the Neanderthals who’d been the dominant human species for a pretty long time before. They also displaced other human species on their journey, most famously the hobbit (Homo floresiensis) and the Denisovans.
What was the world like then in the Devensian Glacial Period that has mostly dominated our history?
Well, the dominant animal in that time wasn’t the human being, although we’d made a disproportionate impression. Our presence in the Americas was relatively trivial and was somewhat more prominent in Asia than in the hostile tundra of Europe. It was more the age of the elephant of which species were present in every continent except Australia and more generally of the so-called megafauna of large mammals which made humans seem very modest in comparison. However, our species can’t have been idle. When the ice-caps receded just 10,000 years ago, we’d developed complex languages, rich traditions, sophisticated stone-age technologies, impressive cultural achievements such as painting and sculpture, and a great deal more that can be determined by indirect evidence. But agriculture, city-states and international trade all required relatively benign climatic conditions, and these all appeared relatively soon as the British Isles and Scandinavia emerged from under the ice and a passage was opened to the North of America to let in the sophisticated Asians (soon to be known as Amerindians).
The climate was truly dreadful. North America was mostly under ice sheets more than a kilometre thick, Europe was squeezed between an Arctic Ice Cap that reached as far south as Lincolnshire and an Alpine Ice Cap that dominated most of the continent. In all this, Asia was relatively benign with mammoth-dominated grass-lands that stretched across Siberia to Berengaria, and Africa was mostly free of ice. In fact, the equatorial areas were probably much the same as today if squeezed between thermal belts that were somewhat narrower and much more dominated by the huge ice-caps on both poles (but much more so in the Northern Hemisphere). Africa was still hot and it was here of course that humans most thrived, having diversified to a wide range of niches and also where the megafauna had most time to get used to the unwelcome presence of this aggressive hairless monkey.
So, Glade and Ivory is set in this period: a time when humans were arguably more intelligent (judging from the size of prehistoric craniums), where there was undoubtedly more diversity and many more languages, a much smaller population density and a lot out there to be afraid of.