This is short fiction (most probably a short story, or just possibly barely making it to novelette) I read more than 20 years ago.

They find in the Arctic frozen remains of a primate that seems to be roughly as ancient as some of the australopithecus, so they call it (if I remember correctly) "borealopithecus" but I googled this word and got nothing.

Anyway they manage to clone (I think) a living organism from these remains and he (he is a male) is left to survive in an arctic environment, with a herd of reindeers that he learns to semi-domesticate. He manages not just to survive, but make elaborate clothes, tools, various artifacts including a sleigh and at the end, in his red clothes (dyed with the juice of arctic berries, I think) with white trimmings, he lifts up with his sleigh into the sky, taking a big bag full of the various artifacts he had made, pulled up by seven reindeers !

The story itself is of course a joke, but my request is serious. I did read this story and I'd really love to find out whether I can find it again. It was in a collection of F&SF, even if it is also a joke.

Cloning a living creature from frozen bones is SF, isnt'it ? And the end is Fantasy.

1 Answer 1


Grain of Truth by Charles Spano Jr. First published in Analog though I read it in the anthology A Spadeful of Spacetime.

The Santas are referred to as borealipithicene. The story is written as a series of letters from the scientist Josh to his sister Virginia. It starts after the discovery of a skull with some preserved flesh that can be used as a source for DNA. Josh says:

You're probably ahead of me now. Yes, I intend to use my techniques to reproduce the DNA in that frozen flesh. I will implant the molecule into a chimpanzee ovum and in a few months the first borealipithicene in half a million years will again walk the earth.

The story ends with the escape of the borealipithicenes:

You see, the boreals have vanished. The domed roof of the environmental compound was shattered though no one heard any noise. The only things missing beside the roof and the boreals were the eight small caribou over which they had apparently had some control.

  • OK, so I was wrong, eight caribou, not seven ! And borealipithicene, not borealopitheque. Still, I was not too far off, and you are dead-on.
    – Alfred
    Nov 14, 2019 at 6:36
  • Virginia so chosen for the obvious allusion. Well done.
    – Broklynite
    Nov 14, 2019 at 12:46
  • @Broklynite What "obvious allusion"? I don't get it.
    – Alfred
    Feb 4, 2020 at 8:32
  • 1
    @Alfred there is an old joke/saying, and I have no idea where it is from probably a commercial, but pretty famous: “yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
    – Broklynite
    Feb 4, 2020 at 10:32
  • @Broklynite Thanks! Being French, I never heard of it before. But I just found it. Cute story !!! newseum.org/exhibits/online/yes-virginia-there-is-a-santa-claus
    – Alfred
    Feb 4, 2020 at 15:17

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