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Introduction

Welcome, everyone, to the Kebara Homepage. My name is Anne Gilbert. I live in Seattle, Washington, and I'm currently writing a Great Science Fiction Masterpiece, set in the near future, in the Pacific Northwest.

The tentative title is "Song of the Forest", and, as the title implies, it features an endangered old-growth forest. It also features a paleoanthropologist, a right-wing foundation, some wolves that live in the forest, loggers, assorted yuppies and academics, and ---- Neandertals.

Neandertals, you say? How can they be in a book set in the near future, in the Pacific Northwest? They've been extinct for the last 30,000 years.

Well, that's what everyone thinks, but they're wrong. In fact, they are living alongside you and me, "hiding in plain sight", as the saying goes. And why are they hiding in plain sight? Well, wouldn't you, if you had a Neandertal's reputation?

And, furthermore, they can do some peculiar but wonderful things. Like cure AIDS. Or save ecosystems. Or stop us humans from doing ourselves in by ruining our environment. After all, that's what they Returned to Earth to do, among other things(also, they are constantly on the lookout for sympathetic humans like ourselves to help them do it, which isn't as easy as it sounds.)

In any case, the central figure in the story is a young woman named Eln Perdnal. Like all her fellow Neandertals, she has some very unusual abilities, which become apparent to paleoanthropologist Kent Richards in the course of the tale. She becomes embroiled in the effort to save one of the last uncut bits of forest in Washington State, the Bigtree Forest, located just outside the half-dead timber town of Bigtree. Naturally, the local logging company doesn't like this, and tries to stop her and her organization, the Friends of the Forest.

She has many adventures in the course of the tale, including meeting Kent Richards. But what these adventures are, you will only learn by reading the book.


How    it    began

I first started this story without even knowing it. If a beginning can be sassigned, it would be the day I sat watching a "Nova" TV program about human evolution. Usually, "Nova" is a good program, and I have learned many useful and informative things from it. At the time I sat down to watch the program, I knew very little, if anything, about human evolution. However, this was the era when the so-called "African Eve" hypothesis was suggested, and this was exactly what this particular program set out to prove. They did a very good job of it, for there was no other explanation offered for the genesis of modern humans. I should state here that I have, in general, no quarrel with the idea that the modern human form first appeared in Africa. What I do question, however, is the idea, still current in some quarters, that the modern form of human was so different from any other human type living 150 to 200,000 years ago that they completely replaced them with *no* admixture at all. But this was *exactly* the explanation the program offered. No other. And this is what brings me to the Neandertals. As an aside, in case you, the reader, are wondering about the spelling, "Neandertal" is the preferred orthography of everyone, apparently, except the British and the New York Times, but you, dear reader, can spell it any way you please. In any case, the program brought in a prominent paleoanthropologist who proceeded to demonstrate in every possible way he could, that Neandertals were so different from ourselves that they could not possibly have contributed *anything* to the modern gene pool. Well, perhaps he was right. But, when he pointed to a Neandertal leg bone, which is demonstrably heavier and larger than ours, to make the claim that this "proved" irreconcilably great differences between them and us, my immediate reaction was that people of African descent can produce more melanin in their skins than I, or most "whites" can. Does this make Africans or African-Americans a different *species*? Of course it doesn't. Does having bigger bones and more muscle mass, forward-thrust faces with big teeth, long jaws, little or no chin, large nasal openings, occipital buns, low, sloping foreheads and prominent browridges make Neandertals a different species from ourselves, I asked myself. And I didn't know the answer. I still don't . But at the time, I knew very little else about Neandertals, either, except maybe what I'd read in things like "Clan of the Cave Bear". So I decided I'd better find out. And that was exactly what I did. In the beginning, all I wanted was accurate information. I had no intention at the time of writing a book in which Neandertals played a prominent part. But times change. At one point, I became unemployed for a considerable period of time, and later, I was working somewhat sporadically at a new job. It was during this rather unpleasant time that my present book gradually took shape, especially after I began to do some serious research about Neandertals(who were, even then, planned only as secondary characters in a work which would have been quite different had I bothered to write it). And then one day, something happened. I realized I *had* to write about the Neandertal characters, and they had to be more than *helpers*, Inevitably, they became *central* to what I was writing about. They had a history of their own, which I wanted to tell, and a reason for reappearing, in the near future, on earth, and a long and tangled history of interrelations with humans, for in fact they had visited earth to see if it was habitable and civilized many times in the past. These visitations themselves could constitute stories, for their presence exerted a subtle, but improving influence on their "modern" companions. For a while, I tried to write an "epic" piece, somewhat like, say, "Sword of Shannara", but I got bogged down and had too many characters to deal with. For reasons that had to do with fewer characters to work with, I decided to return to my original idea, which would have formed a kind of "prequel" to the epic(which I will return to at some point, I hope). So, for specifics:

It is around these four characters that much of the action revolves.


Forest Paths

A short history of the People
A history of the People, from their beginnings at Atapuerca to their Return to Earth
Characters and setting
Describes the principal characters in Song of the Forest, their motivations, and the settings in which the book takes place
Some Random Thoughts
My views on Neandertals, their place in prehistory, and their disappearnce(and a few other things too)
References and links
Some useful links and references regarding Neandertals, evolution, and ecology
A Sample Chapter from "Song of the Forest"
Shows a sample of my "work in progress"(subject to revision)

Anne Gilbert

avgilbert@hotmail.com