|cover art by Paul Lehr|
For this re-read, I downloaded the version of the story ("Lastborn") that was first published in Galaxy, September 1958.
|Reconstruction: part modern human,|
Thyroid hormone is a potent simulator of body heat generation. Possibly Neanderthals and other primates in cold climates evolved a system for preferential transport of thyroid hormone into the brain, allowing for a large brain size without excessive stimulation of long bone growth. This would fit with recent models (example) of central (brain) control of thyroid hormone-stimulated thermogenesis.
|cover art by Alan Gutierrez|
Science of Time Travel
Beyond the biology of "The Ugly Little Boy" is the issue of Asimov's imaginary science of time travel. For The End of Eternity, Asimov imagined a "downwhen terminus" that cut we primitives off from hoards of visiting time travelers who might otherwise arrive from the far future. In "The Ugly Little Boy", Asimov limits the extent of time travel by suggesting that only a fuzzy view of the past was possible AND there was a huge and expensive energy cost for moving objects into our time from the past.
I've never read the novel-length version of the story by Robert Silverberg, which supposedly goes deeper into the motivations of the businessmen who bring a living Neanderthal boy out of the dead past. This act was depicted as nothing more than a fund-raising trick in the original story, although in true Asimov fashion the head capitalist is not depicted as a only a money-hungry dick. Apparently the novel includes a new character, Bruce Mannheim, who claims to be an advocate for the time-traveling boy, but who is apparently depicted as a media-manipulating creep. None of the reviews of the novel that I've read motivate me to seek out this longer version of the story.
It is impossible for me to read a story without my mind automatically linking it to the Exode Saga. While wondering about how Robert Silverberg might have depicted the Neanderthal boy living in the past after having grown up in our time, I began imagining that there might have been additional Ek'col time travelers besides Ekcolir. Alternatively, maybe Ekcolir himself might have been sent on a time travel journey before meeting Trysta. A third alternative is that maybe Ekcolir was not from Trysta's time and so he arrived in Wales from some other era of time.
The Ek'col were designed as a way to help slip Trysta's special Asterothrope gene patterns into the human gene pool. What might be the story of Ekcolir's childhood? Who were his parents? Maybe it was Ekolir's parents who had to travel through time in order to study Trysta and "correctly" raise Ekcolir so as to prepare him for his mission to Earth.
Next: time travel, Ekco style - "Hierion Confinement"
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