Prehistoric fantasy (or prehistoric fiction) is a small but growing literary genre. Its main characteristics are that the stories are set in prehistoric times and describe the lives of prehistoric people.

The genre goes back to authors such as Jack London, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Golding, but it wasn't until Jean M. Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear" that the genre became as popular as it is now.

Baronian (in Romans Prehistoriques) distinguishes between true prehistoric novels, which take place entirely in prehistory (e.g. Jean M. Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear"), and "time travel" prehistorics, which feature contact between modern times and prehistory (e.g. Julian May's "Saga of the Pliocene Exile).

Currently novels dealing with Native Americans are a popular third subcategory of prehistoric fantasy. These novels describe the prehistory of the American continent rather than the European one, dealing with various Native American Indian tribes. Major authors are W. Michael Gear, William Sarabande and Linda Lay Shuler.

Regarding the name of the genre: both prehistoric fantasy and prehistoric fiction are used. I agree with Clute in "The Encyclopedia of Fantasy", who states that "Most literary accounts of prehistoric life are best regarded as an extrapolation of historical fiction or as SF". Additionally, many of the stories feature shamanistic or magical elements. This is why I have placed this node under the title "prehistoric fantasy rather than fiction".

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