BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer reveals the "secret history" of The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy.
Hunt and gather: listen to more in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy.
©2003 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"The genre's northern star - in fact, one of the hottest SF writers anywhere." (Maclean's)
I liked the first book in this series a lot. The second one wasn't as good, but I still liked it. I was hoping that this book would redeem the second, but I thought it was terrible! I had to make myself finish it. There are so many things that were bad it's hard to know where to begin and I certainly can't list them all. The main female character, Mary, is often unreasonably bitchy and childish while the main male character (a neanderthal) is always calming her and being understanding of her petulance- it makes them both kind of boring. The writing was weak, there was hardly any character development. Well, we do learn that Mary seems to be quite the Star Trek devotee, several times connecting something in the story with a Star Trek episode - she knew the names of guest stars and who had directed. Perhaps Mr. Sawyer needed some filler and so he took from his own fanatical knowledge? According to the book, Americans are repugnant, there aren't very many American characters and none of them are good people. Throughout the series neaderthals are portrayed as having taken much better care of their world while we "gliksins" have ruined ours, which we have, no arguement there. But at one point the author compares neanderthals to Canadians and gliksins to Americans. Ok I get it, he hates Americans. Next sentence contains a spoiler: He also doesn't seem too keen on men (homo sapiens that is), so it's no surprise that the big villain in the book is an American male. Lazy, boring writing and I didn't like the narration either. Too bad, it started out as such a promising series.
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.
Before this book, and to some degree before this series in general, I'd have said yes. I like some of their other books, but this was simply terrible. It fails in so many ways.
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Sigh... there were some OK parts, sections of the book that touch on science fiction. It all seems so forced though; those parts of the book were contrived and inexpertly jammed into a very bad story arc. It makes even the better scene's somehow feel outside the story.
So disappointing; I'm not so much bitter, but just incredibly disappointed. This really isn't worth your time. This is the first negative review I've written in over 100+ books.
I was charmed by the first book in the series. I too had problems with the second book. I did however pursue it to the end. The third book only maintained my attention for three chapters and I was finished.
I was surprised that this book turned out as bad as it did. I have read most of his work, including the two before this in the series, and was flabergasted by the hasty and poor execution. He had been fair through his other two books between atheism and theism - with balanced science on both sides of the arguement. For this one, it is an all out (amatuer) assault on religion as the source of everything evil in the world and it is all some kind of genetic defect. Can evil acts be blamed on religion? Sure, but everyone who studies more than transcripts of George Bush's speeches know that evil men grab religion as an exuse to get people to do things on faith. Faith doesn't cause evil, Mr. Sawyer, evil men do and then blame religion.
I enjoyed the first book in the series, and felt the second was OK, but was unable to finish the third, Trite character development, petty dialogue and predictable story line, made me stop the book by half way. Save your credits.
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.
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Overall I loved it: The entire Trilogy. I just couldn’t get enough of Mary trying to explain (justify) our society to Ponter, I thought that it brought up so many different and interesting issues: Religion, Crime and Punishment, The Right to Choose, Environment, Relationships, Science and Technology etc … I found it endlessly interesting!
Having said that, I didn’t like the Jock storyline and I won’t say more about it because I don’t want to spoil it for those who have not read it yet. The book seemed to morph (degenerate) from a really thought-provoking story to Bruce-Willis-Action; I was more annoyed than on the edge of my seat.
Still, it didn’t ruin it for me at all. If ever there is a Book 4 someday – I am in!
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 think it is safe and accurate to say that Mr. Sawyer has a strange and unavoidable dislike of the United States (though I am sure if asked he would heartily deny it - not good for sales) and a bit of an obsession with his Canadianism - that and his religion. Aside from that, I agree with the other 3 reviewers here and have little to add.
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