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.
"Sawyer is a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation." (The New York Times)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although I highly recommend book 1, this follow on becomes boring very quickly and fails to inspire imagination like the first book did.
Basically, book 1 felt adventurous and it was exciting to visualize the fantastic ideas the author brought to the story, but in this book there are no new ideas and it goes from being adventurous to a boring love story with barely any excitement.Such a shame, as I was excited after the first book to know there were 2 more to follow.
Having read the reviews for book 3, it appears it doesn't get any better so I'm now searching for a new series to read.
This piece is what some would call a proud pleasure.
Unlike other very enjoyable books that leave you with the guilty feeling of having wasted your time while having fun with a nice read, Sawyer's work on the Neanderthal Parallax, book II is easy to enjoy, yet appealing to the mind. It has a very nice pace, driving the story through very interesting scientific facts that really make you think about the small things in the human nature that lead all the way up to the very structure of society.
I would recommend this book to the person who is drawn to the what ifs of human history, to the lover of anthropology/paleo-anthropology, to the science fiction fan looking for something different than spaceship related stories, and just about anyone who likes the "fiction-books-that-make-you-think-rather-than-just-playing-out-a-fantasy-world" genre.
Now, this is specially for the reader new to the audibook world: I had read book one of this trylogy years ago and even though I wanted to get the second part, I didnt have the time to actually sit down and read, so I never bought it. This is why I decided to try the audiobook: so I could know how the story ends and kill time on my daily commute at the same time. So far its one of the most life quality improving things I've done during the very scornful traffic hours of my life.
Try it, you wont regret it!!
Book one was entertaining but, book two mostly drags on with a tiresome exploration of religion and sentimenal reasons to believe in life after death. It is true that huntergatherers had lots of time on their hands but, the author is unable to convince me that they had any incentive to develop an iorn age or advanced technologies. I'm stopping at book 2 after reading the reviews by other readers.
"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.
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