Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis. Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?
Here’s a summary:
Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.
Every week, I’ll post part of this story.
Here’s Part 3 (A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine):
In the Beginning…
…it is difficult to avoid personifying the word Nature; but I mean by Nature, only the aggregate action and product of many natural laws, and by laws the sequence of events as ascertained by us.
Billions of years whooshed by in such a rush, it made Sun dizzy. Planetary systems formed and life evolved and still Sun couldn’t decide. This Machiavellian monstrosity who called herself ‘Nature’ cared nothing for Earth. She collided vast landmasses with such brutality that the ground buckled into crenulated piles of lofty mountains and deep valleys, or splintered into ragged continents that floated away on infinite oceans. Molten hotspots blew liquid rock through the fragile crust and splattered volcanic archipelagos like multi-layered onions. The erratic climate melted glaciers and rainforests with equal ease.
Sun sighed. Nature’s life forms were no better. They came and went, crushed by Earth’s ever-changing habitat. The survivors, like the desultory horsetail ferns or the annoying chirruping insects, were boring. The first had no flexibility and the second, no mental strength. Sun turned her attention to other planets in her system, until the day a muscular, slope-shouldered hominid named Orrorin appeared. Though his head was no larger than what Nature called a ‘chimpanzee’, a human soul radiated through his eyes. Who was he? He fingered his food as though wondering at its texture. Hostility intrigued rather than frightened him. Had Nature finally done something spectacular?
One morning, when Sun began her daily duties warming and lighting Planet Earth, Orrorin had disappeared, replaced by the ape-man Ardipithecus. His clear-eyed gaze roved the land with a calculated interest. He rubbed callused fingers over the plants and sniffed their scents, even tasted the seeds and dirt around them. He cocked his oversized head up and scratched behind his ear as though he knew Sun watched—and vanished faster than Orrorin. The captivating female who replaced him was the first to recognize the concatenation of cause and affect that flowed through the land and animal life, responsible for the migration of herds and the springtime birth of babies. She, too, disappeared, replaced by a different bipedal—bigger here and stronger there.
One after another, the primate hominids came and went in a great evolving rush of kindred species, nothing more than failures in Nature’s evolutionary lab. What game did Nature play with the lives of these sentient creatures? Sun lost any but a passing interest in Earth’s parade of life.
That changed when the Homo habilis Lyta arrived. Something about this skinny primate’s mix of bravery and loyalty, her unpredictable intelligence and selfless compassion, fascinated Sun.
Nature giggled. Sun would never understand evolution. All matter must be destroyed to be improved. Sun, also, when its time came. Nature alone decided who lived and died. In other parts of the Universe, she was called god.
She giggled again. She was a god.
To make the big-brained Homo habilis more interesting, Nature gave him free will. She hoped a modicum of independence, a separation from the traditional reliance on instinct, would empower habilis to act in its own best interest
She got more than she expected. With choice came a conscience. That wasn’t the plan, but science was unpredictable. Nature had started over more times than she could count in her quest for perfection, but a conscience? How do you do what must be done if you worry about consequences?
Nature puckered her brow and studied her creation with a predator’s unwavering attention. Several minutes passed and then several more. Storms came and went. Flash floods crashed through the valleys and lightning blackened the grasslands with devastating fires. Finally, the worry lines that framed her eyes disappeared and the corners of her mouth tugged up into what might pass for a smile. There was a solution.
She cleaved her newest creation in two. One half she called ‘Lyta’ and planted in the rainforest. The half called ‘Raza’ she dropped on the savanna. If Lyta ‘wished’ or ‘prayed’ or simply asked, Nature would guide her to salvation. Raza, she left to his own barbaric inclinations. To be sure they couldn’t meet, she created a savage uncrossable fissure between their homelands.
“Now I will create their opposite. He will be smart and aggressive, as are they, but without morals. His focus will be his survival without concern for those around him.
“Which will succeed?”
Part IVa next week…
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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.