Sunday, September 13, 2009

J Francis McComas' "Brave New World" (short story, prehistoric fiction): When warriors became traders

Quote from short story titled Brave New World by J Francis McComasAuthor is the founding coeditor of F&SF. And is probably equally well known as the coeditor of the iconic "Adventures in Time and Space" - said to be among the books that helped sf win recognition as a separate genre.

No time is mentioned, but the story appears to be set in about the same world as Jean Auel's "Earth's Children" series; that would place it some 30,000 odd years in the past. Mankind had then been around less than 10,000 years in its current avatar.

Story summary.

A party of youngsters from tribe of "The People" are on a short journey - on foot, of course - to raid a camp of a substantially more civilized tribe "Mud Dwellers" for women! There is another nearby tribe "Dwellers-in-Caves", but raids to them are avoided because they retaliate in kind; Mud Dwellers are considered to be soft targets.

They'll be found by men of Mud Dwellers & cornered on a mountain ledge shortly before they were to raid. There is a deadlock - neither party can clearly win a fight here; a deadlock eventually resolved by trading their possessions, an event that will seed many future trading expeditions rather than normal women kidnapping expeditions.

Fact sheet.

First published: F&SF, September 1954.
Rating: A.