THE NIGHT OF THE ELEVENTH SUN

October 26, 2016
Votes: 0
Audience Adult
Word Count 100-120k (average/long)

Editing, Production, Marketing & Sales

Cover design by create space
Published Through Amazon Createspace – KDP
Distributed by Lightning Source

Author’s Summary

Imagine yourself 40,000 years ago. The last of the Neanderthals encounter the first humans as early man spreads west into the farthest outreaches of Iberia. What will be the outcome?

This is what I wondered when I sat down to research this book. Though entirely fictional, it is quite real.

This book is Underground Reviews certified and I am a Good Reads Author. The book is available to you in Kindle form or pdf or hardcopy, at your choice.

 The fossil record is unclear.

Did Neanderthal speak?

Did he laugh, have music, feel love?

Did he interact with Homo sapiens or get killed by him in mortal combat or get pushed to extinction on less marginal lands?

This book answers some of those questions in a carefully researched fictional setting.

Now meet Strong Arms, leader of the clan.

 

Predator species have spite hardwired into their behavior.

Killing the competition before it grows up is always a good genetic strategy for any meat-eater.

Now, take one that’s smart, adaptive, and a consummate tool-user, and you have the makings for a conflict of monumental proportions.

It’s man versus Neanderthal in the mountains of Iberia. Only one will survive.

You may be surprised by which.

 

Short Description

The hunter was halfway up the mountain, following a well-used game trail. Off in the distance was the grove of trees, the campsite, and the two huts. In the other direction were the fish-lake, the stream, and the waterfall. Also the field of clover where the rabbits lived. Everything was as it should be. During the summer, the hunter would climb up here on the mountainside every week or so to survey all that was his. Sometimes he’d bring along his flute or a whistle. Usually, it made him feel good to be up this high. The wind in his hair, the colorful alpine flowers, the honeybees, the funny-looking groundcreatures. They’d pop their furry heads up and out of the ground, look around, make a strange squeaking sound, then drop back down into their holes. Funny little creatures these. From up here Strong Arms could see the herds. Big, four-legged creatures with giant racks of antlers. They would move down from the highlands in the morning to water themselves, and again at dusk. At night they would disappear into the forests, the great vast forests filled with dark shadows. Then there were the wolves. In the winter, especially, they would move through the valley, looking for food. Sometimes they’d kill one of the older antler-animals. Other times, if they were really hungry, they would take a rabbit or a groundcreature. Once, long ago, they had attacked the clan. His brother died that way, twelve suns ago. Now, as Strong Arms looked across the meadow, he saw a strange sight. Strange, wonderful, yet terrifying. Far away. Near the horizon. Another clan. Twelve, maybe fourteen of them. They moved differently, somehow, from other clans he’d known. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, though. The cold-adapted, light-skinned Neanderthal peered out from the rock overhang. He was puzzled and somewhat alarmed by the similar-looking but technologically superior beings that confronted him. Though he didn’t realize it yet, these new humans brought with them a new way of interacting with the world, a way that initiated a slow but irreversible slide toward extinction for the clan. In time, they would drive the clan into peripheral areas of Europe where resources were diminished or less familiar. But that was still far in the future. Today there were more pressing concerns: The size of the new clan worried Strong Arms. If the men of the new clan didn’t like him, they would take his women, murder his children, and toss him over a cliff. On the other hand, if they got along, there might be a mate for his son, as well as for his sister. That would be good. His own clan was in trouble, big trouble––not enough males, not enough females. Strong Arms watched the new clan with suspicion as it moved. Three males in front, two behind, all big ones. They weren’t moving closer to the campsite, but rather in a sort of parallel fashion, keeping their distance, skirting the meadow. With them were wolves, funny-looking wolves. Bigger, with squarer jaws and less coarse hair. Obedient wolves. Like something he’d never seen before. Strong Arms suddenly decided this clan was dangerous. Drawn by an instinct to protect, Strong Arms started down the mountain trail back towards camp. He was dressed simply, with a leather tunic, leather half-pants, and a thick leather moccasin-sandal on each foot. This was his late-summer garb, and along with his spear and short dagger, allowed him to move quickly when the need arose. Strong Arms stayed in the shadows, hoping not to be seen as he came swiftly back down the mountain trail. His movements were practiced, honed by years of hunting big prey. He was almost down the mountain and into the high grass when a terrible thing happened. The others of his clan, not realizing the danger, were laughing loudly. They had no reason to keep silent. Children, especially, were not quiet creatures. Big brains yearned to be exercised, to invent and play games. Exploration was mental play, and big-brained meat-eaters were the most playful in any ecosystem. The clan’s little ones were no exception. Usually, their cries and sounds were a comfort to Strong Arms. Now they brought him up short. The other clan heard the sounds as well. Strong Arms could see them in the distance. They stopped and crouched low in the grass. The obedient wolves grew quiet in a trained sort of way. Strong Arms raced across the meadow, holding tight to his spear. The little ones were laughing and playing, making noise. His mate, Brown Curls, was down near the fishpond. His sister and her son were at the huts, tying bundles of grass in long sheaths to repair a recent hole in the roof. His own son, Fast Foot, was at the perimeter, practicing with a new, longer spear. His daughter was nowhere to be found; she’d been missing for two days already. It took Strong Arms only minutes to reach his family. They still had no idea of the danger. Strong Arms scanned the horizon. His eyesight was excellent. But being in among the trees, at a lower elevation, Strong Arms could no longer see the other clan. But he knew they were still out there––and getting closer.

Catchphrase

Man versus Neanderthal in the mountains of Iberia.

Endorsements



January 27, 2017 Ani Johnson The Book Bag (UK)

The word “Neanderthal” has become equated with people deemed to have a backward attitude and outlook. But what do we know of the original Neanderthals from over 200,000 years ago? Here American author Steven Burgauer melds the knowledge of anthropologists, archaeologists and historians with the story of Strong Arms, his family and their struggle to survive, in a very effective and informative way.

This time last year I hadn’t heard of Steven. Now I’ve had the privilege of reading three of his vastly differing offerings: the adaptation of a WWII veteran's D-Day diaries in The Road to War, his alternative history thriller Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou and now this opportunity to follow a group of Neanderthals through a year of triumphs and terror. This is definitely the best as this fact/fiction combination is where Steven’s talents shine.

There’s no question that this will appeal to fans of Jean Auel’s cave tribe novels and yet Steven’s approach is slightly different from Jean’s. Steven actually classes this as science fiction despite its lack of futuristic elements. This label in this case is meant in its purest sense simply because, rather than being what we have equated with the genre, this is fiction with science. If it was on our TV screens it would be docudrama as Steven tells the story of Strong Arms, Brown Curls and their children, frequently breaking away to fill us in on modern experts’ discoveries about that part of our shared past.

Among the expected features, like a belief system tied into and explaining natural phenomena, there are surprises. For instance Neanderthal language was far from a series of grunts; their daily parlance included tenses, adjectives and verbs. It was more simplistic than we’re used to though, demonstrated by Steven not only in the literal nature of people’s names but also his take on terms that may have been used such as “knees up” as a noun for those more intimate moments. Once we Brits have stopped sniggering about its cultural connections with Mother Brown, we realise that Steven has invented a phrase that makes a lot of sense.

By the way, there are graphic moments but all in the context of the story and research. To be honest, as a reviewer, I’ve read much more graphic than this. It just may not be a book you’d want to give your youngsters without reading through it yourself first.

We also witness life’s milestones like the initiation ceremonies after which pubescent girls and 11-ish-year-old boys become adults. (In fact the age for boys — 11 suns — provides the book’s title.) We’re also shown the devices employed to make life easier like my favourite, the history rope. (It may be low tech, but it’s ingenious!)

Understandably there are dangers that lurk in the daily tasks as well as the special fears and perils that haunt our hero as he tries to keep his family safe. There’s that moment when our hearts are thumping almost as loudly as Strong Arms when we realise the connotations of coming across another tribe.

Although the fictionalised sections are Strong Arm’s (third person) narrative, for me the way that Steven steps through the forth wall to reveal and explain the research brings the book alive. The facts are presented in an accessible way making sense of ideas that “civilisation” has abandoned. Things like polygamy are, on the whole, shunned by modern society but at that time it was totally understandable with sound anthropological and biological reasoning.

Steven has filled a hole in this history buff’s knowledge that I didn’t realise existed. Indeed, this form of writing that appeals simultaneously to fact and fiction readers is definitely Steven’s metier and I look forward to more of his brand of science fiction.

(A big thank you goes to the publisher for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you enjoyed this, feel free to peruse Steven’s back catalogue. If you enjoy the early history vibe of this and Jean Auel’s work, while yearning for it to be mixed with a bit of fantasy, we also heartily recommend The Tiger and the Wolf (Echoes of the Fall) by Adrian Tchaikovsky or perhaps straight Neanderthal-era fiction in Song Hunter by Sally Prue. (Please ignore the Teen label for this one if you’re an adult reader – brilliant fiction is brilliant fiction.)

http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/index.php?title=The_Night_of_The_Eleventh_Sun_by_Steven_Burgauer

- posted by steven    

“ . . . a fascinating tale that takes readers deep into the prehistoric ages. I felt like I was watching versus reading the words. Steven Burgauer has a way of breathing life onto his pages. His characters are three-dimensional. Clans and their order of living, eating, as well as relationships were stunning. I felt every emotion.”
— Urban Book Reviews, January 21, 2017, Danielle Urban

5 stars out of 5 — It was amazing!

The Night of the Eleventh Sun by Steven Burgauer is a fascinating tale. Takes readers deep into the prehistoric ages. The cavemen. Reading these pages, I got a glimpse into the lives of these cavemen and their cultures. The reality of life and hardships was realistic. I felt like I was watching versus reading the words. Steven Burgauer has a way of breathing life onto his pages. His characters are three-dimensional. Clans and their order of living, eating, as well as relationships were stunning. I felt every emotion. Stress, frustration, loss, grief, and love. Plus, lust. Death and life go hand-in-hand inside this book. Overall, I enjoyed following along. The Night of the Eleventh Sun is a must read for all.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1887410728
https://urbanbookreviewsrus.wordpress.com

- posted by steven    

“A powerful, entertaining and thought-provoking novel, The Night of the Eleventh Sun, is a clear indication of Burgauer’s ability to bring a distinctive voice to multiple genres. Deserving of a broad readership it is highly recommended.”
— BookViral, January 6, 2017

A powerful and imaginary re-creation of our past which uses history for its inspiration, The Night of the Eleventh Sun proves a gripping read from start to finish. Few authors could have pulled this off so well, but Burgauer has an undeniable passion for accuracy and an enviable knack for capturing pivotal moments. Without representing primitive man as being unduly savage he creates characters with whom his readers are able to feel a sense of kinship by exploring the baser traits that make us truly human and in particular our overriding need to survive and protect the ones we love. The question for many readers will be whether they can make their own leap of imagination whilst Burgauer’s story is at its most affecting when it demonstrates bursts of ingenuity from his beetle-browed characters. Deftly rendered, it’s through them that he poignantly reminds us of our primaeval past and our long trek towards civilisation with the focus on emotional and tactical evolution which is the subtext to his narrative. On this level it’s a unique achievement and whilst being something of a step change for Burgauer should none the less be well received by his readers.

A powerful, entertaining and thought-provoking novel, The Night of the Eleventh Sun, is a clear indication of Burgauer’s ability to bring a distinctive voice to multiple genres. Deserving of a broad readership it is highly recommended.

http://www.bookviral.com/the-night-of-the-eleventh-sun/4593460369

- posted by steven    

5 stars out of 5
“Most refreshing story of this era. Shows the struggle to survive and how hard life changes the dynamics of a group. This has been far more entertaining than the Clan of the cave bear. This is one book I have already recommended to friends.”
— Allen Lawrence, GoodReads Reviewer, December 28, 2016

- posted by steven    

“A marvelous blend of fact and fiction. Much more could be said of this excellent piece of historical fiction, but suffice to say, it roundly deserves five stars for its unique ability to entertain as well as inform. You will never look upon the cavemen in museum dioramas in quite the same way again. Indeed, Burgauer’s vivid portrayal of day-to-day life back then — complete with bouts of anxiety, somnambulism, and even eroticism — make this novel breathe with an uncannily contemporary touch of reality.”
— Publishers Daily Reviews, December 15, 2016

Transport yourself back 40,000 years, and watch a life-and-death drama unfold.

Strong Arms, and his mate Brown Curls, are waiting patiently for a huge antler-animal to grow weak so they can finally kill it. It’s been two days since the big beast fell into a glacial depression, fashioned into a trap by the pair. Its legs have been crushed by boulders rolled down on it earlier by Brown Curls.

Brutal hunting technique? Very much so. But it’s just another day for these Stone Age Neanderthals, who are trying to survive and bring back food to their ravenous clan.

Through the talented touch of author Steven Burgauer, the reader is transported across the eons to walk the Neolithic landscape in search of daily sustenance for Strong Arms’ clan.

Indeed, Burgauer’s vivid portrayal of day-to-day life back then — complete with bouts of anxiety, somnambulism, and even eroticism — make this novel breathe with an uncannily contemporary touch of reality.

“Neanderthals were not the stumbling, stupid brutes moderns once pictured them as being,” Burgauer asserts. “Give a Neanderthal man a shave and a bath and dress him up in a coat and tie and you wouldn’t notice him on a crowded platform waiting for a train.”

This story is skillfully woven among fascinating — and plentiful — anthropological nuggets and ancient history. But don’t think it’s just a dry recitation of facts and figures drawn from a dusty textbook.

Strong Arms and his clan practically leap off the page and into your imagination as they battle wolves during important tribal events, such as the chieftain’s eleven-year-old son’s coming-of-age ceremony — the Night of the Eleventh Sun.

In a different kind of struggle, Wide Smiles, the fourteen-year-old daughter, must battle her emerging sexuality to keep from going “knees-up” with her cousin, Long Legs. Hormones rage — little different than in present day — and the instinctual, though taboo, urge to mate with a kinsman is hard to overcome.

As the mild European summer passes, however, the family unit is distracted from its dilemma of breeding stock scarcity. There are ritualistic rites to perform, honoring the all-powerful Nature God, and even an occasional musical celebration, performed with hollow bird-bone flutes and turtle-shell drums.

Still other little-known historical notes emerge. For example, it was not unusual for cannibalism to occur every now and then, savoring such delicacies as the sacred brains and livers of deceased clan officials. And children, especially those belonging to important clan members were almost never buried. Instead, their tiny bodies were placed with great reverence in cave wall niches and carefully sealed.

“It was believed that the Spirit of the one who had died would fly to the Nature God on the wings of a hawk or an eagle, only to return later in the guise of a son or a grandson.”

Much more could be said of this excellent piece of historical fiction, but suffice to say, it roundly deserves five stars for its unique ability to entertain as well as inform. You will never look upon the cavemen in museum dioramas in quite the same way again.

Well done, Mr. Burgauer. Another masterwork of writing, at once inventive and illuminating.

http://publishersdailyreviews.com/night-eleventh-sun-steven-burgauer/
http://justfreeandbargainbooks.com/night-eleventh-sun-steven-burgauer-review/
http://www.theindieview.com/latest-indie-reviews-from-around-the-web/
https://donsloanauthor.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/the-night-of-the-eleventh-sun-by-steven-burgauer/

- posted by steven    

4 stars out of 5

“ . . . the author has quite cleverly interweaved his narrative with a science lens to help us make sense of the Neanderthal’s actions . . . so the tag of science fiction/fantasy stands in this enjoyable tale.”
— December 9, 2016, “The Book Reviewers”

The Night of the Eleventh Sun by Steven Burgauer

Existence as a Neanderthal is explored through the life of a clan leader: hunting, family problems, a declining clan, mysterious strangers and keeping the spirits happy are just some of the issues facing Strong Arms in this enjoyable tale.

A typical science fiction book will project you so many years into the future and wow you with all that has been achieved or dismay you with the awfulness that is our possible destiny. Not so for Steven Burgauer’s latest book, The Night of the Eleventh Sun, which takes us back to the dawn of our time.

But it is not us that are his focus; we are a mere bit part in this tale. Rather it is our rival hominid species, the Neanderthal, that takes centre stage. Hold on a minute, I hear you utter, does that not make it historical fiction rather than sci-fi? Well, possibly, but the author has quite cleverly interweaved his narrative with a science lens to help us make sense of the Neanderthal’s actions. Clearly much of the science resides in the theoretical realm; ideas are pieced together from fragmented clues collected by decades of patient anthropological endeavours, so the tag of science fiction/fantasy stands.

Initially there is a simplicity to the narrative that leads you to think that this might be pitched at a younger audience, but don’t be fooled. Once the voracious sex lives of the Neanderthals are covered you know that this is definitely not for children! It is clear from what we learn about the everyday lives of the clan that their lives were similar to our own clan ancestors: use of tools for hunting and preparation, plants for healing, creativity, abstract thinking and philosophising. However, there is a question mark forever lurking whilst you read: why didn’t they endure? The clan in the story is one in decline, weakened by infighting, high infant mortality and threats from other, more successful and “different” clans. Any, or all of these reasons may explain the Neanderthal’s demise, but it is too easy to dismiss them as a species that wasn’t “fit” enough to survive; partly as they continue to exist genetically within many of us but also, as the book demonstrates well, we have much still to learn about their cultural legacy.

http://thebookreviewers.com/night-eleventh-sun-steven-burgauer/

- posted by steven    

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