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Hominids: The Neanderthal Parallax, Book 1 | [Robert J. Sawyer]

Hominids: The Neanderthal Parallax, Book 1

Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth. A Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleo-anthropologist Mary Vaughan, promptly identifies and warmly receives Ponter. Solving the language problem and much else is a mini-computer, called a Companion, implanted in the brain of every Neanderthal. But it can't help his fellow scientist back in his world, Adikor Huld, when the authorities charge Adikor with his murder.
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Publisher's Summary

Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth. A Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleo-anthropologist Mary Vaughan, promptly identifies and warmly receives Ponter. Solving the language problem and much else is a mini-computer, called a Companion, implanted in the brain of every Neanderthal. A computerized guardian spirit, however, doesn't eliminate cross-cultural confusion; permanent male-female sexuality, rape, and overpopulation are all alien to Ponter. Nor can it help his housemate and fellow scientist back in his world, Adikor Huld, when the authorities charge Adikor with his murder.

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.

What the Critics Say

  • Hugo Award Winner, Best Novel, 2003

"Sawyer is a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (1191 )
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4.0 (548 )
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  •  
    Jho Bishopville, SC, United States 01-10-12
    Jho Bishopville, SC, United States 01-10-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining and Educational!"

    I've always been interested in Evolution and have enjoyed fiction focusing on Neanderthals and our relationship with them way back when. I really debated whether or not to take a chance on these books (I'm half way thru the 2nd book, Humans, as I type) and I'm so glad I did. I love the actual science and feel like I'm learning so much. I love the characters too. Ponter and Mary are carrying the story so well. This idea of what could have happened or might still happen has me "thinking" so much about religion and politics and life in general. I love it when a book makes me think like this. Can't wait to finish Humans and then start on Hybrid. This author, Mr. Sawyer, must be one fascinating MIND.
    Bottom line is... Go for it! Take a chance. Not many will regret the opportunity to think outside the box. It's really a treat to be so entertained while learning so much.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc Long Beach, WA, United States 06-02-11
    Marc Long Beach, WA, United States 06-02-11 Member Since 2011

    Give me a spy novel, mystery, history, and a little science and I'm totally happy

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Fantastic"

    It kept me going through hours of freeway driving. Both the intrigue and the science kept me fascinated. I was convinced that it all just might happen. Wow.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Byrne 04-30-11
    Jim Byrne 04-30-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    5
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    "Enjoyable book - good story, good sci-fi."

    I am a fan of alternate history, and a book about an alternate universe filled with Neanderthals fits my criteria. The book has good science fiction, decent character development, and shows an alternate society which has an entirely different social structure. You see some good and bad in the Neanderthal society (in the two later books, he loses all balance and presents them as the ultimate ideal of what humans should be). My advice is to buy this book and ignore the two later books in the series, as they are nothing like the first at all, and become nothing more than social commentary for the author's personal viewpoints.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 03-05-11
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 03-05-11 Member Since 2010

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
    853
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    "Good Science Fiction"

    I am a fan of Robert J. Sawyer and this is another great read. This is Science Fiction in it's purest form. We are talking Neanderthals, parallel universes and a little physics thrown in. Character development not the best. Mainly it has neat stuff in it that leads to a lot of deep thought.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dissipatedfog San Francisco, CA 08-21-08
    dissipatedfog San Francisco, CA 08-21-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
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    10
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    "Great premise, good story, decent reading"

    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.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 02-10-09
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 02-10-09 Member Since 2007

    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)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    8
    Overall
    "Don't gag on the politics and stereotypes"

    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.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tamara Dublin, CA, United States 12-14-08
    Tamara Dublin, CA, United States 12-14-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating topic, but weak characters"

    I have a mixed opinion of this book. On the one hand, I found the basic premise really cool and the tie-ins to the anthropology of Neanderthals fascinating. On the other hand, I found the characters and their story lines too simplistic and linear. I would have guessed this was Young Adult fiction if it hadn't started with a rape. Personally, I found the rape part to be mostly a convenience for the story. It would have worked better if the rape had been a flashback to later explain Mary's behavior. Also, I could not quite figure out if the Neanderthal society was supposed to be better or not. Again, it seemed overly simplistic. It was very cool that it was so different, but I don't think those differences were taken far enough. Definitely worth a read, but I won't be pursuing the sequels.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruthann Salt Lake City, UT, United States 05-11-09
    Ruthann Salt Lake City, UT, United States 05-11-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awesome!"

    This was a great science fiction book of parallel universes the meet. What would it be like if they developed differently though? Humans were only a weak race that once lived while neanderthals excelled. Mary, a women in today's earth has been asked to verify the genetics after a neanderthal accidentally passes through a temporary portal. Mary is a women torn between what she once was and recent events who is trying to cope with the world not being what she thought.

    This was a wonderful novel that made me think for hours after reading many sections. The largest downfall was an intensely boring section about 2/3rds into the book that I don't feel added to the story, luckily it wasn't very long but it did drop this book from a five to a four. Aside from the small part is was great.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eva Gannon Chicago, Illinois, US 10-08-08
    Eva Gannon Chicago, Illinois, US 10-08-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
    Overall
    "Fascinating"

    This is one of the most interesting audiobooks I've read this year. The basic premise of Neanderthals and humans splitting off into parallel universes is novel and developed nicely. The depiction of Neanderthal culture was absolutely fascinating.

    One couldn't help but love Ponter Boddit and hope that he found his way home. Adikor Huld is similarly sympathetic. Even Ponter's dog is lovingly presented.

    The female characters of the book however, were not as well drawn. Adikor's accuser Balbe is thoroughly detestable, and rather two-dimensional. The adjudicator is stereotyped. So is the French scientist -- the sexy French woman. Her intellect somewhat saves her, however.

    I have mixed feelings about Mary Vaughan. On the one hand, she is a sympathetic character, a woman of intellect and belief. Her reaction to the trauma of rape rang true. The scene in the doctor's library rang true. But that she almost completely overcomes it in less than a week did not ring true, especially not for this character.

    This lack of skill in drawing the female characters influenced my rating of 4 stars; had they been as well drawn as the male, I would have given this book 5 stars.

    Still, the premise and execution are good enough to keep one spellbound. The narration is also good, although as other reviewers have noted, the narrator needs to work on accents.

    Overall, this is a thoroughly engaging read and I highly recommend the book. I was going to buy the second book right away, but after reading the reviews, I think I'll wait for a sale.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard Concord, MA, United States 06-09-11
    Howard Concord, MA, United States 06-09-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Good Concept with Major Flaws"

    This is my first Sawyer series I have listened to. First the concept is superb and Sawyer has done a great job of researching Neanderthals. It is clever and I will not spoil the set up here. So far so good.

    However I do have a problem with what I can only call Sawyer's "preachifying" about the evils of capitalism and the Roman Catholic Church. Not to deny the problems with both- but the book, aside from the setup and plot, is pretty much a screed against both. Oh, I forgot it is also a screed against aggressive (homo-sapien) males. This stand in contrast to the benefits of government ownership of housing, lack of monetary exchange (in favor of your "contribution" a grand ruling counsel (reminiscent of the ideal of the Bolshevik Soviets)).

    As I said I have no issue with Sawyer bashing the RC Church and capitalism. However painting the RC Church & Capitalism as the SOUL source of pollution, war, genocide, murder, poverty is disingenious at best and plain idiotic at worse. Question: who killed more people Stalin or All of the Popes combined? The Answer: Stalin by a MILE. Which country is absolutely the most polluted in the Western World : Russia (if you consider it Western) the Dream Socialistic State. The one that abolished (or tried to) private property, the one that promised everyone would be equal (of course some were more equal than others, the one that left entire areas uninhabitable (think Chernobyl or Magnikursk scene of mercury and heavy metal pollution.

    Or if you don't like the example of the Soviet Union try the agrarian utopia (which in concept Sawyer would approve of give my reading of his novel): one that had no masters, no ownership, labor exchanging for labor, people's council's everything. That would of course be the Khmer Rouge who managed to murder at least a couple of million people in two years.

    So perhaps Sawyer would answer "but I am talking about Neanderthals not homo sapiens". Really? I don't by it.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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