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Publisher's Summary

Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth. A Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleo-anthropologist Mary Vaughan, promptly identifies and warmly receives Ponter. Solving the language problem and much else is a mini-computer, called a Companion, implanted in the brain of every Neanderthal. A computerized guardian spirit, however, doesn't eliminate cross-cultural confusion; permanent male-female sexuality, rape, and overpopulation are all alien to Ponter. Nor can it help his housemate and fellow scientist back in his world, Adikor Huld, when the authorities charge Adikor with his murder.

BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer explains why Ponter Boddit is his favorite among all the characters he's created.

Hunt and gather: listen to more in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy.
©2002 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Hugo Award Winner, Best Novel, 2003

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Montclair, NJ, United States
  • 11-07-12

OK but flawed

Any additional comments?

Overall this isn't a bad book...the narration was super. Jonathan Davies doe a great job at bringing each character to life.
where i have a problem is parts of the story. For example (not giving away any story here) our Hero (Ponter) accidentally travels through a portal to a parallel universe and the 2nd or 3rd thought out of anyones mouth is "oh he must be from a parallel universe'"...i don't know, maybe, just maybe you explore a couple of other concepts first? And did we really need to experience a characters sexual assault? This did not enhance the book one bit for me, as a mattter of fact it diminished the story...i still cannot see where it fit into the story at all.
Also, i am really bored & tired of authors who feel the need to lecture us on all of the ills of modern society and worse: on our violent & foolish history, by having some fictional visitor bemoan, chastise & condemn us for our actions. it just seems a cheap shot and i expected more from a Hugo nominee....maybe i won't use these Hugo's as a basis for my choice of books anymore. I know i am not going to bother with any more of this series.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Don't gag on the politics and stereotypes

If you've read Sawyer before you'll be aware that he has a lot of political commenting (a.k.a. complaining) in his works... this is no exception. And, no, it's not done discreetly or in flow with the story, he sorta just sticks it in at some spot he deems convenient - sometimes it doesn't clash with the story flow, but mostly it does and you'll stop and think, "now what does the government funding policy have to do with this Neanderthal?".

The narrator is okay though he attempts to do accents which are not very good or very consistent. I.e. the Jamaican accent sometimes sounds French, sometimes is not present, and once in awhile might sound sorta Jamaican, but not really.

The concept behind the book is cool and there is some exploration of how it could be "possible" which makes the sci-fi part of the novel pretty decent... it's the character development (or lack thereof) that makes this story frustrating. Instead of developing characters, Sawyer relies on stereotypes to dictate and explain behaviors: females are victims (to menstrual cycle, to rapists) men get so distracted by beautiful women they can't focus on their work, etc.

The concept is worth 4 stars, the rest of it warrants a 3, or less if you tend to choke on political grumbling. I won't buy any more in this series.

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great premise, good story, decent reading

I really liked the premise of this book and thought that the story was told well although there were a few passages that seemed forced. The reading was fine, the Jamaican accent sounded more Scottish or Irish to me, but what does this American know about accents! I didn't like the intro by the author, it was self-congratulatory and also seemed like he was trying to sell me a book I'd already bought. Then the first 5 minutes of the reading were about how the author's decision on which spelling of Neanderthal to use. Start playback at 7:29 and you won't miss a thing from the story.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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

I, Neanderthal

This novel explores a two-humanities evolution (one, homo-sapient the other, home-neanderthalensis) on two Earths, each in a separate parallel universe. It more specifically explores the possibilities if Neanderthals were really a sub-species of homo-sapients; thus allowing for inbreeding and sapient-like intelligence. With that as a premise, the author then creates a quantum experiment gone awry to connect the two worlds and suck the Neanderthal protagonist, Ponter, into our Earth.

Most of the SciFi elements revolve around the quantum theory effect of having particles exist in two place simultaneously, writ large and written largely out of whole cloth. Still, this acts as the 'machina deus ex' to put Ponter on our Earth and, the consequences of his disappearance on his world.

From there the novel focuses on the drama and social consequences following the event. This is where the author uses great chunks of authorial license. As an example, during Ponter's discussion with the paleo-anthropologist Mary Vaughan on the whereabouts of the woolly mammoths, she states with an unwarranted degree of certainty, that humans hunted them into extinction. Also during those discussions, Mary also asserts that humans hunted and drove Neanderthals to extinction. As can be imagined, Ponter was none too pleased to learn of that, all the more bewildering since no such proof exists to support either of those assertions. Then there is the author's description of how Christian theology views the consequences of sin as a way to assuage the victims of the sinner, i.e., that sinners will reap infinite torture in the afterlife (hell) and the victims will be compensated with infinite bliss (heaven.) The author is Canadian and so that may be a Canadian doctrinal teaching but it is one I've not ever heard of. Also, it seems bogus with the simplest reasoning when one considers that all humans are sinful during their lifetimes.

Even so, the book was entertaining, especially when discussing the SciFi aspects and Robert J. Sawyer writing skills were quite good as was Jonathan Davis' performance talents.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Humanity, homo sapiens anyway, are bad

Would you try another book from Robert J. Sawyer and/or Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer ?

I don't know. Not right now. I got impression he is angry at something.

What about Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer ’s performance did you like?

Great performance, I enjoyed it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rena
  • Alberta Canada
  • 02-11-15

An Engaging Flight of Canadian Fantasy

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

One of the most entertaining books I've heard in years!

Who was your favorite character and why?

I enjoyed all of them; not anyone in particular. Each character added so much to the story; it was balanced with no one character dominating the story.

Which scene was your favorite?

The scene where Pondar is standing on the Canadian Shield overlooking the spot where he would be living in the parallel dimension. Also where they are laying on the hood of the car looking up into the night sky.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I never listen to books all in one sitting. First of all I don't have that kind of time plus its more enjoyable to listen to books in bits. I usually put the timer on especially so with books I really enjoy; I don't want them to end.

Any additional comments?

I'm not big on fantasy and sci-fi but this one was a winner. The facts that were woven into the book - real locations (the neutrino observatory is real - actually exists in Sudbury); real history about our species and evolution really made the book come to life. The only thing that kind of threw me off that I feel didn't add anything to the book was the rape scene and the part where he flares his nostrils detecting the smell of her menstruating - that was a bit of a turn off.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Belinda
  • SAN BENITO, TX, United States
  • 04-14-14

slow start but very good story

It took me several tries to get into the book, but it was well worth the effort. The story is very intriguing and thought provoking.It also made some of my stagnant brain cells work again. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

I Really Liked the Clever Premise.

Such an interesting idea! Two parallel universes, one in which Neanderthals became extinct and Humans became the dominant species on Earth (our reality), and then the opposite - a universe in which Humans became extinct and Neanderthals became the dominant intelligent species.

Who cares how one person crossed into the other Universe; it was just fun to read about his adventures on "The Other Side". I was fascinated by the Neanderthal's Society: their advanced technologies, relationships, culture, laws, philosophies, and ways of life etc - so interesting! I bet the author had fun making it all up too.

My only real complaint is with Mary, and the events that happened to her in the beginning of the book. I don't want to give too much away, but I think it was unnecessary to make her live through what she did in order to establish that she was emotionally cautious and reluctant to start a new relationship. I think a bad break-up in her past might have achieved the same end. As it is, I thought it was exaggerated and really kind of dumb.

I am definitely in for the sequels!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

One of my all-time favorites!

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

Very Interesting.

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful