Reviews of At Winter's End (1988)
Review by bkedryna (2003-11-26)
This is a decent book. The storyline is interesting and thought-provoking and the characters are pretty well developed (even though they're not human).
However, there is one rather serious flaw. The author does not seem to realize that in order to keep population stable, *every* woman needs to have at least *two* children who survive into adulthood and have children of their own - one to replace herself, one to replace her husband/mate (this could be 1 point something if the sex of the child could be forced or screened for female - but that is not the case here). The problem is that the tribe described here is created around the idea that only some of its members are allowed to breed. A lot of the culture of the tribe is based on this flawed premise.
Later it's indicated that no woman for thousands of years has had more than one son. It's also indicated that they do not know the child's sex until it is born. This seems to tell us that only some women have children, and only one child per woman, or else chance would give someone two sons quite often.
This being the case, this tribe would die out in just a few generations.
But if you can ignore a big flaw like that for the sake of the rest of the book, I suggest you read it. It is not all about primitive cultures - there are many visions and references to the world before, which is several hundreds or thousands of years into our future, with awesome machines and other technology, star-travel, other races, etc.