"House of Bones" is a unique time-travel story that imbues a deep sense of satisfaction on nearly every level. It is a modest tale, recounting the unfortunate fate of the world's first and perhaps last time traveler. After a misguided test run, he's become trapped 20,000 years in the past. Unequipped for survival, his future is uncertain. What's worse, he's surrounded by people so primitive they don't even have a written language. So primitive they take in his unworthy and skill-less self and accept him into their society. This glimpse of what life might have been like for Cro-Magnon man in the late Pleistocene epoch shows us precisely why we can't judge a society by its lack of tool based technology.
Silverberg skillfully extrapolates a fascinating working culture out of what little modern archaeologists and paleoanthropologists know of these people - our ancestors - and creates in the process something to think about when using words like "primitive". "House of Bones" is a sort of mirror image of Isaac Asimov's "The Ugly Little Boy".