cover image A Different Flesh

A Different Flesh

Harry Turtledove. Congdon & Weed, $0 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-86553-198-7

Turtledove specializes in carefully researched alternate histories involving the Roman and Byzantine empires. This time, though, he applies that expertise to a more striking premise. What if homo erectus (called ""sims'' here) had lived on in America while homo sapiens elsewhere developed into the European civilization we know? The sims, a living missing link of limited intelligence and half-human, half-simian appearance, challenge traditional ideas of humanity's special, God-given place in the world. With an eye for historical turning points, Turtledove develops his thesis through vignettes from 1610 to 1988. The later, longer chapters become increasingly involving and intricate as the issues grow more complex, from slavery to (all but human) guinea pigs for scientific research. One of the best entries in the ``Isaac Asimov Presents'' series. (April)