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    Review of SHAME OF MAN by Piers Anthony (see his website)


    Tor, October 1994

    Across eight million years, mankind repeats a single story. Hu/Hugh finds his true love, battles a brother-sister team, raises one genetic son, one adopted daughter, and one adopted son, and discovers and practices music while his wife develops dance. In more than a dozen lands--from early Africa to China, Mongolia, Easter Island, Palestine, and even Tasmania, Hu and Anne explore their relationship, Hu's weird obsession with Ss, and the art of becoming good parents.

    As this family pursues survival, they discover the dangers of falling outside the pack. When Hu refuses to join in a hunt for giant orangetangs, believing them too manlike to serve as food, he is cast out of his pack and nearly dies. But the result of the hunt is, over time, the elimination of a kindred species and their replacement with the dominant man. Likewise, in the recent past, Hugh's decision to support tree-spiking nearly results in his arrest. Short term profit maximization becomes more important than the long term survival of the planet.

    Author Piers Anthony (see more reviews of novels by Anthony) continues his fascinating exploration of mankind's history--and mankind's relationship to the planet. Throughout history, living creatures have shaped the earth without being aware of the consequences of their actions. Man, by virtue of his intelligence, is able to do far more to Earth than most species--and in a far shorter time. But Anthony manages (mostly) to avoid a preachy political manifesto in the form of a story. Instead, the oddesy of Hu and Anne through the millions of years, with a variety of faces, becomes a compelling and fascinating story. With Anthony's strong writing, this book is hard to put down.

    Is Anthony right--will mankind be doomed to exercise extreme social control in order to prevent our own extinction? It certainly seems possible. Indeed, the Bush administration's decision to name environmental activists leaders in 'domestic terrorism' indicates how far mankind must come in a very short time if we are to begin to even take into account the very real costs that our actions impose on Earth.

    SHAME OF MAN is the kind of story that makes you think--and stretches your brain. There's plenty of tragedy here, but also a solid adventure, a love story, retelling of mythology, and a number of windows to societies outside those that Americans are generally exposed to in their history classes.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 1/21/07

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