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Humans: The Neanderthal Parallax, Book 2 | [Robert J. Sawyer]

Humans: The Neanderthal Parallax, Book 2

In this Hugo-nominated novel, Neanderthal physicist Ponter Boddit brings Canadian geneticist Mary Vaughan back to his world to explore the near-utopian civilization of the Neanderthals. Boddit serves as a Candide figure, the naive visitor whose ignorance about our society makes him a perfect tool to analyze human tendencies toward violence, over-population, and environmental degradation.
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Publisher's Summary

In this Hugo-nominated novel, Neanderthal physicist Ponter Boddit brings Canadian geneticist Mary Vaughan back to his world to explore the near-utopian civilization of the Neanderthals. Boddit serves as a Candide figure, the naive visitor whose ignorance about our society makes him a perfect tool to analyze human tendencies toward violence, over-population, and environmental degradation. The Neanderthals have developed a highly artistic, ethical, and scientific culture without ever inventing farming - they're still hunters and gatherers - and this allows the author to make some interesting and generally unrecognized points about the downside of the discovery of agriculture.

BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer explains why one particular chapter of Humans is his very favorite.

Hunt and gather: listen to more in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy.

©2003 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (614 )
5 star
 (195)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.0 (286 )
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.3 (278 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Guillermo Rochester Hills, MI, United States 04-28-09
    Guillermo Rochester Hills, MI, United States 04-28-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Missed the Mark"

    Sadly Mr. Sawyer completely misunderstood what made volume one of his series excellent. I say sadly because volume one did not try to feed opinions down the reader's throat but instead presented two civilizations each of which was equally flawed, and most importantly Mr. Sawyer did not make it obvious what their flaws were. He didn't tell me what to think; he let me decide. Book one was quite simply good science fiction; it made its point by creating likable characters and creating a plot written for adults.

    Book 2 of the series, Humans, lacks everything the first had. As I listened to the audio book I was tortured by long periods of time where I felt the author was insulting my intelligence, and the times he wasn't insulting he was quite simply boring. And gosh almighty he made the heroine a stupid dimwit in book two. Also, if I wanted to listen to long sermons on atheism I'd rather listen to more eloquent authors such as Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion. Mr. Sawyer can't even preach to the choir convincingly.

    Book one compared fictional society with specific people; and book two tried to tell me stuff about human society that made me feel it was being told by a thirteen year old who thought I would be shocked because he was shocked, but instead bored me to misery.

    Worst of all for the author he had an introduction to the audio book where he told me that this book two was his best book he ever wrote and that it had the best sex scene in science fiction. First nobody should tell me what to think of a book before I read it, and second only a fool would try to sell his book saying it had a good sex scene.

    And as someone who's been reading science fiction for at least three decades I'd have to say this book had the most boring and immaturely told sex scene I've ever read.

    Audible.com has delighted me with wonderful trilogies such as Hyperion, Ender's Game and more. But for Hominids I do wish I'd have stopped after book one.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jho Bishopville, SC, United States 03-23-12
    Jho Bishopville, SC, United States 03-23-12 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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Byrne 04-30-11
    Jim Byrne 04-30-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Un-ending social commentary, not sci-fi"

    This first book in this series was very good. I love books about alternate timelines and this story about an alternate universe with Neanderthals as the dominant species was a great premise. However, the second and third books give up the science fiction and become social commentary books. In both the second and third installments are long dialogs about what I assume to be the author's pet peeves. Among the things the author seems to dislike are Americans, males, religions (especially Catholocism), conservative viewpoints, and personal ownership of vehicles and property, to name a few. His likes are women, Canadians, gays, lesbians, athiests, and environmentalists. SPOILER ALERT He also seems to come down heavily in favor of castrating rapists, which fits into his "woman are good, men are bad" mantra that he cyles over and over and over in his second and third installment. END SPOILER ALERT. Unfortunately, even if you agree with his viewpoints, his story is boring. There is not enough action, far too much commentary, and the main character, Mary, while competent in the first book, becomes shallow and vapid as the series progresses.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 10-02-08
    Brad Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 10-02-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Enjoyable and Engaging!"

    A fast-paced story with an interesting premise, the Neanderthal Parallax (set largely in Canada... Huzzah!) is an easy and engaging read. The narrator of the audio version brings the characters to life well, and the hours pass quickly. My choice to give it four stars is only in comparison to the first book in the series, but all three are definitely recommended.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kopen Greenville, SC 05-04-14
    Kopen Greenville, SC 05-04-14 Member Since 2013

    Kopen

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Naive Preaching - Virtues of Atheism and Communism"
    What would have made Humans better?

    If Robert Sawyer didn't pretty much start out the book preaching Americans on the Vietnam war and why they should be atheists ... might have been a little more insightful to discuss the history of the neanderthals and how they decided to have a police state where their every move is watched by the government. I am reminded of the ideological struggle between Isaac Asimov, who believed a strong central all knowing government was necessary vs. Ayn Rand who believed the individual spark of liberty was a necessary precondition to a functioning society.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I have a bad taste, need something to cleanse it.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CJ Houston, TX, United States 02-18-14
    CJ Houston, TX, United States 02-18-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Overall A Good Story"
    What made the experience of listening to Humans the most enjoyable?

    I've been fascinated by Neanderthals for years & read all I can about them. Interesting fantasy culture in this book.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer – was your favorite?

    Hak. It seemed to have more personality than the actual personalities sometimes.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The only extreme reaction at any time was anger. Anger that the author decided to use his book as a vehicle to brain-wash. The presentation that the reason for Neanderthal extinction is that our kind of humans killed them, for instance. Mary mentions that this is just one theory, but doesn't present the other theories & says that she believes this one. Also, the idea that the only reason for slavery was/is to further the gain of the owner(s) in recent American agricultural societies, while completely ignoring the fact that Native Americans practiced slavery, Europeans practiced slavery, Africans practiced slavery, slavery is still practiced in southern Asia & the Middle East, etc., really chaps my hide! Additionally, the author's apparent need to convince his readers that religion is a ridiculous notion, believed only by the feeble-minded or people completely lacking in logic, is outright offensive! Tell your story, Mr Sawyer - but leave your thought reform tactics out of it!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    UncleHammy Towanda, KS United States 01-27-14
    UncleHammy Towanda, KS United States 01-27-14 Member Since 2011

    UncleHammy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Humans Bad Neanderthal Good"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    The first book was better. This book the author decided the political statement was more important than the story. Thus everything Neanderthal is good and everything Human is bad. We ruined the planet, we are violent and constantly at war while the Neanderthal has done away with violence and war. Of course they have no privacy because their every move and even thought is recorded and stored in the alibi archive for the government to use against the Neanderthal if something happens.

    So take you pick our over crowded, violent, dirty world with no mamoths and free will and privacy, or theirs in which everyone is in tune with nature, resources are plentify, violence has been bred out of the population and your every move is monitored by the government.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    It is clear that the author intended to write another book. The ending is left hanging.


    Do you think Humans needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Obviously it needs one to close up all the loose ends.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    05-06-10
    05-06-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Science Fiction!"

    Let your imagination carry you to a world based upon...hunting/gathering, a stable population, the rhythm method (don't frown, they have lots of sex), long term contribution to society, experience prized over strength, science moves forward thru cooperation and without prejudices, violence is not tolerated, crime is very rare yet there is tremendous freedom for all, all life is precious, a very green world. Wait, don't think this is utopia; there are problems, big ones; but what interesting notions thru which to examine our own world. These books examine many foundational ideas/beliefs/principles that we take for granted; stand them on their heads and paints one (of the many possible) picture of what may fall out. The narration is excellent; distinct character voices, perfect pace, and precise pauses to let your mind extrapolate on the image/ideas. I have never written a review but was compelled to write this to give some balance to the reviews of this great trilogy. I agree Hominids was the best and I give it 4.4 stars with Humans and Hybrids close behind with 3.8 stars each (of course I have to fit into the !format! given and round all to 4); but they should really be all taken together as a whole. It probably would have been a really great but long single book. But I understand Sawyer has to pay his bills (and I want him to eat so he writes more books) also there is some suspense in breaking up a good tale. Lastly I have been listening to audio books for over 25 years and what you will enjoy is very personal, highly dependent on where you've been, where you are in life and what happened yesterday and today. So take all the reviews with a bucket of salt; listen/read to lots of different authors/narrators/genre/old books/new books/fiction/nonfiction and determine for yourself what You like/believe/and want to expand upon.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dissipatedfog San Francisco, CA 08-25-08
    dissipatedfog San Francisco, CA 08-25-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
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    10
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    "Not as good as the first book, almost 4 stars."

    I liked this book but thought that the social commentary was at times forced into the story. The narrator did a little better with some of the accents this time, but often times when reading women's lines he made them sound insipid. It was like a man making fun of the way a woman talks. It didn't happen all them time, but there were definitely moments. Again at the beginning was a 2 1/2 minute introduction by the author that was annoying; he really needs to stop selling his books to those who have already bought them. He doesn't have a pleasant speaking voice so it's a doubly bad way to begin a reading. All in all it was enjoyable but not as good as the first book.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Westbury, Australia 10-10-10
    Karen Westbury, Australia 10-10-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very disappointing"

    I tried very hard to like this book. I so loved the premise and the whole idea of the two parallel universes. I was excited to read it and see which direction it took, after the first book established the whole situation so well. So it took me a long time to admit that the author was actually just using the book as a thinly veiled opportunity to expound his personal opinion. At length. The whole book just turned into a sequence of dialogues, which were really monologues, about issues of the day. If Robert Sawyer had written a book of essays to express his personal opinion, it would have been a more honest presentation of his views than using his characters to say it for them. I know that authors express their personal opinions in their books, but it is possible to do so with more finesse and an actual story line than was done in this book.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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  • lesley
    chesterfield, United Kingdom
    7/30/10
    Overall
    "ok book 1 better"

    I did not find this quite so good as the first book in the trilogy but worth listening to and I liked it enogh to carry on with the third book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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