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The Ugly Little Boy has a very simple plot premise: a boy is snatched from the distant past by a time machine and taken to a future in which he does not easily fit. The handling of the storyline based on this idea is a complex attempt to see into the heart of what makes us human and how we define ourselves. Timmie, a Neanderthal, challenges definitions of humanity, and his story is an inquiry into how people's perceptions of sometimes trivial personal traits shape their view of who is worthy or unworthy of respect, love, and sacrifice. Asimov invites his readers to travel with Edith Fellowes; to see through her eyes how even deeply held perceptions can be wrong and how there may be more to being human than having human physiology.

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