Earth's Children  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Earth's Children is a series of speculative alternative historical fiction novels written by Jean M. Auel set circa 30,000 years before present. There are six novels in the series. Auel had previously mentioned in interviews that there would be a seventh novel, but publicity announcements for the sixth have confirmed it will be the final book in the sequence.

The series is set in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic era, after the date of the first ceramics discovered, but before the last advance of glaciers. The books focus on the period of co-existence between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals.

As a whole, the series is a tale of personal discovery: coming-of-age, invention, cultural complexities, and, beginning with the second book, explicit romantic sex. It tells the story of Ayla, an orphaned Cro-Magnon girl who is adopted and raised by a tribe of Neanderthals and who later embarks on a journey to find "the Others" (her own kind), meeting her romantic interest and supporting co-protagonist, Jondalar.

The story arc in part comprises a travel tale, in which the two lovers journey from a region of Ukraine to Jondalar's home in what is now France, along an indirect route up the Danube River valley. In the third and fourth works, they meet various groups of Cro-Magnons and encounter their cultural contexts, including bona-fide technologies. The couple finally return to south-western France and Jondalar's people in the fifth novel. The series includes a highly-detailed focus on botany, herbology, herbal medicine, archaeology and anthropology; but it also features substantial amounts of romance, coming-of-age crises, and—employing significant poetic license -- the attribution of certain advances and inventions to the protagonists.

In addition, Auel's series incorporates a number of recent archeological and anthropological theories. It also suggested the notion of Sapiens-Neanderthal interbreeding. Although in recent years the sequencing of Neandertal mitochondrial DNA first indicated that it was highly improbable that Neandertals contributed to the human genome,

As is often the case with speculative fiction, the Earth's Children series has a substantial fanbase, which organizes websites, holds meetings, and produces fan fiction. The author's treatment of unconventional sexual practices (which are central to her hypothesized nature-centered religions) has earned the series the twentieth place on the American Library Association's 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Earth's Children" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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