BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer explains why Ponter Boddit is his favorite among all the characters he's created.
Hunt and gather: listen to more in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy.
©2002 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"Sawyer is a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation." (The New York Times)
I'm glad I chose to ignore some of the less good reviews this book got because I really really enjoyed it. It's a great story that shines a (not always flattering) light on our own society as well as exploring an interesting fictional world as well.
I've gotten so involved in this novel that I've listened (unusually for me) at all sorts of times outside of my normal commute and that I'm going straight on to book 2 as soon as my next credit becomes active!
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
If you've read Sawyer before you'll be aware that he has a lot of political commenting (a.k.a. complaining) in his works... this is no exception. And, no, it's not done discreetly or in flow with the story, he sorta just sticks it in at some spot he deems convenient - sometimes it doesn't clash with the story flow, but mostly it does and you'll stop and think, "now what does the government funding policy have to do with this Neanderthal?".
The narrator is okay though he attempts to do accents which are not very good or very consistent. I.e. the Jamaican accent sometimes sounds French, sometimes is not present, and once in awhile might sound sorta Jamaican, but not really.
The concept behind the book is cool and there is some exploration of how it could be "possible" which makes the sci-fi part of the novel pretty decent... it's the character development (or lack thereof) that makes this story frustrating. Instead of developing characters, Sawyer relies on stereotypes to dictate and explain behaviors: females are victims (to menstrual cycle, to rapists) men get so distracted by beautiful women they can't focus on their work, etc.
The concept is worth 4 stars, the rest of it warrants a 3, or less if you tend to choke on political grumbling. I won't buy any more in this series.
I really don't see what other people do in this novel. The premise itself I found excellent. The author really started well, but the novel really turned into a vehicle to cram the author's social ideas onto the reader. That wouldn't necessarily be so bad if it were not for the fact that the guy posits caricatures of people to criticize them. For instance, he uses an allegedly Catholic character to contrast with his atheist neanderthals, and yet NOTHING that comes out of that character's thoughts and words reflects any reasonable representation of what a lifelong Catholic would think or believe. It was almost like the characters were taken as cartoon characters from one of the vapid New Atheist books. Yes, I realize bitter atheists will thumb down my review because they only vote for their dogma over any criticism, but this book truly was a poor attempt at positing a valid alternate society. For instance, if you read one of Orson Scott Card's novels, even the characters with whose beliefs he would never agree are given a fair place. In short, this is NOT a 21st century Stranger in a Strange Land. To do so it would need accurate human beings with which to contrast the alternate ideas. Instead you get a lot of straw characters that have little to nothing in common with the beliefs of actual people. If it were not for that, I think the novel would have so much more merit.
The most interesting aspect of the story is the depth with which the author developed this alternate society. He developed a basic naming language to make it more realistic. He built a solid culture and everything. The least interesting aspect is that he failed to accurate represent homo sapiens.
This is one of those books that really makes you stop and look at how we fit into the overall picture. I LOVE these types of books. You may, or may not agree with Sawyer's take on humanity, but it really makes you step back and evaluate where the human race is, and where we are going...
Jonathan Davis was a treat to listen to as well. Well done!
I really liked the premise of this book and thought that the story was told well although there were a few passages that seemed forced. The reading was fine, the Jamaican accent sounded more Scottish or Irish to me, but what does this American know about accents! I didn't like the intro by the author, it was self-congratulatory and also seemed like he was trying to sell me a book I'd already bought. Then the first 5 minutes of the reading were about how the author's decision on which spelling of Neanderthal to use. Start playback at 7:29 and you won't miss a thing from the story.
I initially bought this book because it was on sale. I really didn't know what to expect and figured I might as well try it as it was a super low price. Boy was I glad I did!
It was truly an excellent story that was entertaining, extremely well narrated, and brought up some interesting philosophical questions about the nature of people and quantum physics.
I recommend it highly.
I'm always on the search for engaging, intelligent books & authors who give me a story I can relate to. Through Audible I'm finding a lot! When I'm not reading or listening, I'm writing, cooking, traveling or working on my house or in the yard. Politics is also central in my life; I feel it's important to be aware of what's going on and give voice to protecting all that we value & hold dear.
One of the most entertaining books I've heard in years!
I enjoyed all of them; not anyone in particular. Each character added so much to the story; it was balanced with no one character dominating the story.
The scene where Pondar is standing on the Canadian Shield overlooking the spot where he would be living in the parallel dimension. Also where they are laying on the hood of the car looking up into the night sky.
I never listen to books all in one sitting. First of all I don't have that kind of time plus its more enjoyable to listen to books in bits. I usually put the timer on especially so with books I really enjoy; I don't want them to end.
I'm not big on fantasy and sci-fi but this one was a winner. The facts that were woven into the book - real locations (the neutrino observatory is real - actually exists in Sudbury); real history about our species and evolution really made the book come to life. The only thing that kind of threw me off that I feel didn't add anything to the book was the rape scene and the part where he flares his nostrils detecting the smell of her menstruating - that was a bit of a turn off.
I focus mainly on History, Endurance Sports and Science/Speculative Fiction books.
Probably. Audible does a great job here. I have not read the book, but his might be a good example where the audible version is better than the print version.
I could say the lead character. I found him engaging and interesting. He reminded me of the primary character in the Ursula LeGuin book, The Dispossessed. He had a sanguine approach to the difficulties he was faced, yet did so with courage. I wonder if Sawyer was influenced at all by LeGuin.
I had not read Sawyer before and I think many readers will enjoy him. The story is fast paced and elements of it were like a TV show or movie. The narrator did a great job conveying this sense of action and kept the story moving.
Portions of the book reminded me of Asimov and "The God's Themselves". This story and Hominid is essentially a backdrop for a discussion of quantum mechanics and elements of string theory. I found this interesting. The hard science elements of this book were not over wrought, and made it intelligent writing on many levels.
Sawyer is a popular author and far be it from me to criticize him. At times I felt like the book was careening to a climax, something which I find to be a contrivance in a lot of current science fiction. My guess is the modern reader compares these types of stories to TV and will be bored., I my opinion it felt a bit rushed. A considerable amount happened in a short span of time. So the net here for the reader considering this book is if you like a story that is terrific, fast paced and non-stop you will be rewarded. If you like a story that provides backdrop, characterization and more depth this might not be right for you. I don't say this in a dismissive way. I personally enjoy these types of books occasionally and I enjoyed Hominid very much on this occasion. I am glad I read it, I found it interesting and it was worth the credit. I am just not sure I will return to Sawyer's universe in the short term.
I guess that's what sequels are for, but the only thing disappointing about this book is that it ends. This is a eminently believable and intimately humanistic work of science fiction. The beginning is a bit dense, because there is quite a bit to set up. But for all the technical detail and description, this is ultimately a story about personal connections.
I've had this in my library for years. I don't remember why I bought it, and I'm not sure why I have only read it now after eyeing it curiously every month or so. I only wish I would have read it sooner, because it probably would have given me plenty of time to read it again.
It isn't something that's often -- if ever -- said about science fiction, but this book is just lovely. And the only other book I can recall being similarly wonderful is Stephen King's 11/22/63.
Explaining the parallel universe concept and outsider criticism of society seemed to be far more important to the author of this book than actual plot was. The assortment of characters were kind of interesting enough to get you through, but the whole thing left me wishing that there was more to the novel. It kind of reminded me of Brave New World, where the author has spent so much intellectual time on the backdrop that they don't have any effort left for making the characters do things. The only conflict in the novel which seems to have anything hanging on its outcome is the trial in the Neanderthal universe, and even that is so bogged down by repetition and talk of social order that it looses any weight.
As always, Jonathan Davis is the world's greatest narrator. The novel seems determined to highlight Canada's multiculturalism, so there are tons of accents, which Davis does admirably. Ok, I won't lie, his French Canadian accent maybe leaves something to be desired, but he's so great at everything else that I'm not going to hold it against him.
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