Tag: Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Review – Kindred

Posted March 29, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 1 Comment

Cover of Kindred by Rebecca Wragg SykesKindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, Rebecca Wragg Sykes

That’s a pretty big title, particularly as it includes concepts that people doubt applied to Neanderthals (like love and art). Nonetheless, Wragg Sykes lives up to it, painting a picture of the current state of the art in understanding Neanderthals, their lives, their relationships to each other… and their relationships to us. I lost count of the number of times I just had to share a snippet or an image from this book with my wife, because it’s just so cool what we can know about these people, from the way they ate to their technology level.

One example: their technology level, since we’re speaking of that, was higher than you’d think — for example, they were creating a sort of glue from resin. Pine resin was the best, but other resin when mixed with beeswax gained similar properties, and they knew that and used it! There are multiple levels of technology there, from getting the resin out of the bark (which required a low-oxygen fire) to mixing it to applying it to attaching spearheads to hafts, etc.

I knew some of the things mentioned in this book, of course, particularly when it comes to how Neanderthals are related to us. But much of it was new, or more detailed than I thought, and Wragg Sykes’ interpretation of the evidence is fascinating. Even if you don’t go all the way with her in attributing complex thought and planning to Neanderthals (though I think the evidence tends in her direction), the evidence is astounding enough to keep your attention.

This is actually that rarest of things: a popular science book which I will keep, even though I probably won’t read it again, because I enjoyed it so much and I would like to have it to hand to refer to in the future.

Rating: 5/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted August 20, 2020 by Nicky in General / 4 Comments

Ever so slightly belated WWW Wednesday!

Cover of The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke ArnoldWhat are you currently reading? 

The Last Smile in Sunder City, by Luke Arnold. The cover is so blatantly copying from Ben Aaronovitch’s fairly iconic covers that it raises my eyebrow every time, the narration is trying so hard to be Raymond Chandler without his absolute knowledge of where every word should go, and if Jim Butcher isn’t an influence as well I’ll eat my bookshelf. That said, it’s fun as well, and when it gives trying to coin a phrase a rest for five minutes, I’m settling into it well.

Cover of The Woman in the Wardrobe by Peter ShafferWhat have you recently finished reading?

The Woman in the Wardrobe, by Peter Shaffer, and before that, The Seventh Perfection. The latter is very cleverly narrated, and I really need to sit down and put my review into words before it slips away. I sense that the narration is going to drive a lot of people absolutely up the wall, but I thought everything was worked out pretty cleverly.

What will you be reading next?

There’s a good chance it’ll be one of the books I got for my birthday! The one I’m probably most excited about is Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, by Rebecca Wragg Sykes… but The Contact Paradox (Keith Cooper) is also calling to me.

What are you currently reading?

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