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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.

Critic Reviews

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

What listeners say about Humans

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    390
  • 4 Stars
    371
  • 3 Stars
    188
  • 2 Stars
    39
  • 1 Stars
    30
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    357
  • 4 Stars
    204
  • 3 Stars
    59
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    3
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    282
  • 4 Stars
    211
  • 3 Stars
    100
  • 2 Stars
    29
  • 1 Stars
    19

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Wanted to love it, but...

A lot of people have commented on the politics and religion in this series. My dislike isn't at all due to the inclusion of controversial topics, but rather due to the heavy-handed approach the author took to those issues. Among other problems, he apparently has not learned the show-don't-tell maxim regarding writing, which is what makes his coverage of ethical issues feel so preachy and off-putting (and as a politically-liberal female scientist, born in the US and raised in Canada, and a sexual assault survivor, I'm probably the choir he thinks he's preaching to). Benign example: cop is shouting/yelling at Ponter and then Sawyer writes "two more cops had appeared at the entrance to the interrogation room, presumably coming in the response to the shouts." The bit about presumably coming in response to the shouts is unnecessary. And since Sawyer does that with ethical issues - instead of just describing the responses and actions of the characters and letting the reader think about them, he "explains" them- it gets old fast. His characters are also incredibly stereotyped and one dimensional. He doesn't address the various nonsensical aspects of his characters either (ie. violence supposedly having been bred out of the neanderthals and yet in the only two current-day examples included in the books, they choose violence).

The premise is intriguing, which is what got me to halfway through book 2 before giving up, but that's about all I can say as a positive, aside from the narrator, who is fine.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Runs Out of Steam

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable

I wanted to finish reading this book and go on to the next book in the series. Once again, there was social commentary married with interesting characters.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-30-18

If you like the 1st book this is more of same

it's okay, similar to the first, so if you enjoyed that then definitely read this.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • lesley
  • 07-30-10

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.