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Welcome to the Stone Age: An Introduction to the Stonepunk Genre

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Addison Rizer


Addison Rizer is a writer and reader of anything that can be described as weird, sad, or scary. She has an MA in Professional Writing and a BA in English. She writes for Book Riot and Publishers Weekly and is always looking for more ways to gush about the books she loves. Find her published work or contact her on her website or at addisonrizer at gmaildotcom.

Have you ever thought there should be a word for the sci-fi genre involving prehistoric technology developments? Well, there is! It’s called “stonepunk.” Maybe an example springs to mind, maybe not. Either way, let’s learn about the sub-genre together, and then I’ll give you a few recommendations from the genre to get you started.

What is Stonepunk?

Stonepunk is a sub-genre of the science fiction genre among the likes of clockpunk or cyberpunk. The term applies to books about technological development during pre-historic times using the materials available at the time like stone, clay, or bones. Sometimes this genre plays with modern technology made using prehistoric materials like The Flintstones’s car made of stone wheels and wood.

Some Examples

Some non-literature examples of this sub-genre include the video game Horizon: Zero Dawn in which a young female hunter battles robots using primitive weapons in a prehistoric-style post-apocalyptic world.

Another example is Land of the Lost, a television show about a family who gets stuck in an alternate dinosaur-infested universe and has to find their way back to their time. They live in a cave, gather food, and fight both dinosaurs and large lizard creatures, too.

The Best Stonepunk Books

If stonepunk sounds interesting to you, here are a few books in the sub-genre to get you started! It’s fairly new as a designation, so there aren’t a ton of examples out there. To give a more thorough list, I included a few that don’t 100% fit the mold, but check most of the boxes so you have some variety.

Book Cover for 'The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M Auel

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

After an earthquake leaves her with no family or home, 5-year-old Ayla wanders until a member of The Clan finds her and takes her in. However, the clan’s fear of “the Others” earns Ayla hatred from some of the members, threatening her only safe space. As we follow Ayla’s time acclimating and growing up across the series of books, we too see the way society develops and technology too.

Cover of the Inheritors by William Golding

The Inheritors by William Golding

Lok, one of a few remaining Neanderthals, struggles to live. When “new people” arrive and take their young, he finds their practices, rituals, and sticks fascinating. But this fascination reveals a cruelty of the New People Lok hasn’t ever seen before.

Cover of Dr. STONE for Shonen manga

Dr. Stone by Riichiro Inagaki, illustrated by Boichi

After a flash of light freezes humanity for 3,000 years, Senku Ishigami wakes up alone. Studying his fellow frozen humans, he starts to work out how and why this event occurred. After another classmate wakes up, they work on a cure but find themselves divided by whether humanity is worth waking up after all.

Cover of Pillar of the Sky by Cecelia Holland

Pillar of the Sky by Cecelia Holland

Moloquin is an outcast in his stone age community plagued with visions of a spiritual ring of stones. When he becomes a chief in his village, he makes his visions a reality, creating a connection between the realms of the world. As Moloquin’s power grows, he starts asking more and more of the people he’s supposed to be leading.

The Reindeer People Cover

The Reindeer People by Megan Lindholm

Tillu and her son Kerlew are part of a group called the Reindeer People, trying to survive in the harsh world around them. When Carp, a shaman, shows too much interest in Kerlew, Tillu makes the hard choice to flee from safety and into the snow. Magic, myth, and prehistoric times collide in this two-book series.

Cover of God Mazinger by Go Nagai

God Mazinger by Go Nagai

When a storm pushes Yamato Hino into a parallel world, he’s shocked to find himself in the ancient Kingdom of Mu. Under attack by the Empire of Dinosaurs, Yamato must pilot the stone statue God Mazinger to defend the kingdom.

I hope one of these stonepunk books catches your fancy! If you’re in the mood to learn about more sub-genres like this, check out these 10 new book genres and sub-genres or this science fiction sub-genre primer!

Or, if you’re wanting something more specific, check out Book Riot‘s Tailored Book Recommendation (TBR) service! All you have to do is fill out a survey about your reading tastes, what you’re looking for, and dealbreakers and you’ll be paired with a professional bibliologist who will pick three recommendations just for you! With options to get hardcovers delivered to you or digital recommendation letters, there’s a price point perfect for any bookworm who’s interested. Check it out next time you have a hyper-specific book itch to scratch or if you’re just a little bored with the same recommendations all the time.

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