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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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  • Story

Great book

What did you love best about Hominids?

I like 'realistic' scifi and once you accept the basic premise this was well thought our and very interesting.

What other book might you compare Hominids to and why?

Stirlings Islands in the Sea of Time series

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

Yes

  • Overall

A Lightweight Work of Science Fiction

An interesting sci-fi idea - Humans reaching ascendancy in one universe (ours), and the Neanderthal species reaching ascendancy in an alternate universe, and a quantum experiment gone awry creating a momentary link between the two. All of the "science" in the book seems well thought-out and reasonably below the threshold of suspended disbelief required of a sci-fi reader. The plot, however, not so much. I found it simply unbelievable that should a living neanderthal specimen be found, the government, law enforcement, various scientific administrative bodies, and the media would react as they do in this story. That the discovering scientists would simply be driving the Neanderthal around and housing him in their home, without a government response similar to the final scenes of E.T., seems to me to be WAY ABOVE a reasonable suspended-disbelief threshold. Also, I don't go to escapist sci-fi alternate universe novels to have to read about women dealing with rape. A worthwhile subject to write about, but not in a sci-fi novel about quantum connections to alternate universes - especially since there's no insight about rape itself. It happens in the Neanderthal world too. That's it. So too, apparently, do homosexual relationships. Another aspect of the story that seemed out of place, and hard to believe or even imagine. Perhaps universal periodic homosexuality is a solution to whatever problems/difficulties there are in typical heterosexual relationships, but it too seems WAY ABOVE a reasonable suspended-disbelief threshold. You get the sense the author is trying to make some sort of socially relevant point. I suspect this book would do well if promoted by Oprah, but I couldn't recommend it for fans of hard science fiction.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Harker Heights, TX, USA
  • 06-22-10

Enjoyed

I purchased the first this book and right away downloaded the two follow up books. They were very interesting. Not a concept I had thought about before. Would love to see a 4th book in this series.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Shawna
  • Medford, OR United States
  • 03-28-10

Perfect for Sci Fi Fans

This entire series is a must for sci fi fans. Smart, fast paced, integrated - I wish there were more.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joel
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 08-04-09

Juvenile

I have to admit that I've read a lot of "beach books" with simplistic characters and wooden dialog, but this one is special: it adds ham-fisted politically correct subthemes. Not worth listening to.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Compelling concepts. So-so writing.

The maxim of "show, don't tell" is clearly one that this author has never heard. The book is heavier on science than good fiction. However, even the science couldn't get me to engage in the sequel. If this is a Hugo Award-winner...well, then, SF ain't what it used to be.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alan
  • Reno,, NV, USA
  • 07-26-08

Fast read

This book was a "fast" read. I enjoyed it, and wanted to go on to the next book. The characters are fully developed, and the premise is interesting. There is also social commentary.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Fred
  • Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  • 02-14-09

Graphic Rape Scene

Hi, I don't want to sound too prude, but this book has an early graphic rape scene. In a regular book, it isn't a problem to fast forward through this, but in an audio format, it is just a little bit creepy.

I really felt awkward listening to this and just wanted to pass it on to others. I realize this may come off as old-fashioned, but having to listen to it is very different than reading through it (where you can skip lines and/or pages).

23 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Charlie
  • Lethbridge, AB, Canada
  • 06-20-08

Slow But Interesting

Sawyer has some interesting ideas that make this book worth reading, but the story's pace dragged considerably in my opinion. At times the story tends to slip into thinly veiled political commentary that does little to advance the plot, or develop the characters. What it seems Sawyer is tryng to convey is a dystopic view of our world seen through the eyes of a neanerthal from a parallel universe. If you don't agree with some of the interpretations, it can be quite jarring (which perhaps was the point). I think this story would appeal to fans of "hard" science fiction - where the focus is on the speculation within.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • Tippecanoe, IN, USA
  • 03-09-09

A fine book and naration, but some rough edges

Let's look at the review in 2 sections, the narration and the book. Overall it's a fun read and I'm glad it's available. Will this book stand alone as a classic, no.

Narration: Davis attempts to do accents, and Louise's accent almost killed the book. She's French Canadian and Davis gave her a Parisian French accent. They are as different as American English and British English, with no love lost between the two cultures. Being Canadian and very familiar with French Canadian's speaking English it made me cringe every time the character appeared in the story. Oh no, he might use that awful accent again! Thankfully, she is a minor character. The rest of the narration is enjoyable, though the accents come and go.

Book: His explanation of earth almost makes me want to give up and crawl back into a cave. The author seems to basically setup Ponter's world as the garden of eden, a wonderful place with no crime, rich in technology and living in perfect harmony with nature. He then contrasts this with our world and the mess we've made of it. While he's right on somethings, it seemed too lopsided. Almost to the point of, what's the point? I'm guessing later books in the series this might change.

I would not describe the rape scene as graphic. Not if you've seen any movies in the last 25 years anyways. It's well described, and enough for the reader to know why the character is the way she is. Was it required for this book, no. For the series? I'm guessing yes.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful