BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer explains why Ponter Boddit is his favorite among all the characters he's created.
©2002 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"Sawyer is a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation." (The New York Times)
Don't you just love a great story well told?
I found the book fast paced, well narrated and well edited. Some complain of the politics and religion but this is literature. Since we can't discuss these things at "polite gatherings" literature is appropriate except for those who wish pure escapism (While concise, entertaining and compelling certainly this is not a 'light' read).
It won the Hugo award (Science Fiction Writer's "Oscar" as most likely know), and only rarely are such prizes awarded to art without any merit.
Much fuss is made by some about the graphic sexual assault which is brief but absolutely key to distinguishing two cultures and a woman's feelings about a more sensitive being.
My only critique, is I found the verisimilitude lacking in the other culture regarding their belief system. I would think any being that could contemplate its death might have different views. A line or two more explaining their reasons would have helped. That is my only critique.
Finally, remember this is fiction. If one finds FICTION so offensive why bother reading? I can understand political or religious NON-fiction being offensive but isn't the joy of fiction that it's just "make believe?"
The price is right considering its length.
This is a wonderful story, I was very emotionally drawn into the story. I felt real fear when Ponder, the Neaderathal, was shifted into our universe, in pure darkness, swimming in a cavern of water, (fighting for his life) which was then shrinking. I liked the Candian perspective, and I loved the discriptions of the Nearderthal world, which were insightful, and imaginative, The alibi alcoves and such, Beautiful! Its as good as Enders Game, or Pohl's Gateway! Loved the ending, very satisfying, I give it a 93 out of 100.
Ponder, though this is not as good as Heinlien's Stranger in a Strage land, this is a Great book, Good for you Robert J. Sawyer!
All, except, he does have a weak Jamacian accent, though not that big a deal. He was very emotional, and exceptional in his reading! Wonderful!
The part whare Ponder comes to our Universe in the Nitrino tank, and the ending I almost cried! This guy is a relly good writer!
I laughed at the product placement, though I am paraphrasing,
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 love, love, love to read. Until I found audio books and now I love to listen: esp great stories told by great narrators.
I loved Robert J Sawyer's Parallex Series (there are 3 books in the series) so much, I've listened to it twice! Using a parallel universe, Sawyer sets the stage whereby he can compare the current state of the universe with a more ideal one of his own creation. And I would love to live in the world Sawyer’s created, along with Ponder Bondit – the Neanderthal that travels between the two universes – with a “Companion” implanted in my arm (a prescient take and extrapolation on today’s smart phone mini-computers).
I’ve listened to a lot of interviews with Robert J. Sawyer, and read quite a bit about his views and philosophies, and find many of his interesting ideas coalescing in The Neaderthal Parallax trilogy. For example, I read somewhere that Sawyer does not believe in citizen privacy. He reasons that if citizens are behaving legally then they have nothing to hide. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. If you’re not shirking your responsibilities to family, paying your taxes, and not causing anyone any harm, then what do you really have to hide? (Face it, everyone in government is an adult that knows that everyone else masturbates too; so what else is there to be shy about? And I can’t see a good government being interested in outing its citizens for perfectly normal biological behavior? Can you?) So it’s these sorts of ideas, along with a myriad of others, that flesh-out Sawyer’s parallel universe.
If you like science fiction (or speculative fiction, as Margret Atwood calls it) do yourself a favour and listen to: Homids: The Neaderthal Parallax, Book One, today. You’ll be glad you have two more books in the series to look forward to!
PS I love the Canadian-like multi-cultural characters that people this series. I think they truly represent 21st century Canadian cultural mores.
I did not learn to read until I was in my twenties. Have not stopped since. The two most important things to learn are reading & chess.
I now have listened to two of Sawyer's novels. Calculating God and Hominids. Both are extremely entertaining and well worth the credits and/or price. I have not been a fan of science fiction before listening to these books and now I am.
Jonathan Davis narrates both and does a excellent performance.
I'm very glad I listened to this Hominids Book 1 without regard to the numerous member reviews that clearly were blinded by their own hidebound perspectives.
The beauty of this book is that it shows us two entirely different civilizations each of which is in many ways blind to its own flaws and yet each of which has its own strengths and humanity.
It's clearly not by accident that the Neanderthals call themselves human and that the Homo Sapiens call themselves human and that as a whole each civilization is short sighted.
The flaws of the Neanderthals really are both potential and present flaws of our society, too. And the flaws of the Homosapiens are parallel flaws of our own.
It's a book without good or evil. Each society is both compassionate and prejudiced, and each side is worthy of existing and interacting with the other.
Finally, the main characters are for good reason benevolent and often wise. Thus individuals redeem their societies.
Some reviewers are caught up on one side or another, on one character or another, on trivia that misses the whole point. Be willing to accept the evil to appreciate the good.
Show me your paso doble.
Seriously! Freaking awesome! I can totally understand why it won a Hugo award. I would have driveway moments just as I got home from work listening to the book in my parked car. It is a good sci-fi book because it focuses on the characters and their interaction to the technology. The sci-fi part itself is spectacular and raises a bunch of what-if questions. It is the kinda sci-fi where it seems like it could almost happen, that it is not so much of a stretch. Another great thing about it, is that the storyline is episodic, so you almost get several stories at once. My next Audible purchase is going to be the next book in this series. I might actually put this up there with Ender's Game, and Starship Troopers, as one of my favorite books.
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 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 was the first book I ever listened to on Audible, and I still recall the magic of the experience, how I was longing to discover more even before it was over, and looking back on it all, I couldn't have picked a more perfect book to start than this. Mr. Sawyer does a wonderful job of combining cutting edge science, likeable and believable characters, and even crafts and alternate world that's totally alien, yet still relatable and easy to comprehend. I also loved the vivid descriptions of Canada (both from our world, and the alternate world of the Neanderthals), that almost made it feel like I was there with the characters, though I suppose Sawyer had an advantage as a native (and proud) Canadian. I loved how Sawyer introduces the book, and gives it the quality of being like an old friend when you've read all the books (like I have), and Jonathan Davis did a superb job narrating. For me, this was the start of a wonderful experience that still continues to this day, I only hope this book will do the same for my fellow listeners.
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