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Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax) by Robert J.…
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Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax) (edition 2003)

by Robert J. Sawyer

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1,571466,902 (3.62)66
Member:blakslaks
Title:Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax)
Authors:Robert J. Sawyer
Info:Tor Science Fiction (2003), Edition: 1st, Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer

  1. 00
    Kin: Descent of Man by Gary Frank (hobreads)
    hobreads: Another author's take of contact between Neanderthal man and modern humankind.
  2. 00
    West of Eden by Harry Harrison (MikeBriggs)
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» See also 66 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Lectura fácil, rápida y entretenida. Es un libro para leer en unos pocos días, sin grandes metáforas, pero con los ingredientes justos para una buena novela. ( )
  maxtrek | Jan 30, 2019 |
Ponter Boddit is a theoretical physicist working with his professional and life partner--his man-mate--Adikor on a quantum computer, deep in the bowels of a nickel mine, when something goes horribly wrong and, from Adikor's perspective, Ponter disappears.

From Ponter's perspective, he's suddenly in a tankful of water in a large, dark room.

Ponter and Adikor are Neanderthals, from a world where H. sapiens sapiens died out, and H. sapiens neanderthalis survived to become the dominant species.

Now Ponter is stuck in our world, where he emerged into the heavy water tank of a neutrino detector deep in a nickel mine in northern Ontario. Reuben Montego, a medical doctor, and Mary Vaughn, a very distinguished geneticist who has done work on recovered Neanderthal DNA, are two of his major allies in this world, but he's facing a huge challenge, building a new life for himself, isolated from everything he's ever known. And since Neanderthal society is much lower-density, the total Neanderthal population much lower, and they never developed agriculture but instead have systemitized hunter-gatherer food collection and distribution, modern industrial civilization with a population in the billions, is very tough for him to quickly absorb.

Meanwhile, back home in the Neanderthal world, the woman-mate of Ponter's late woman-mate has accused Adikor of murdering Ponter. She's not deterred by the lack of a body; Adikor was the only person there when he disappeared, Adikor has a volatile temper, and Adikor, to her way of thinking, must have been jealous of Ponter's greater prominence in their shared profession.

Also, Adikor can't explain quantum physics in a way that makes sense to an adjudicator who was apparently never required to study any science.

There's a lot to like about this book. The science is interesting, though not as new and startling as it was in 2002, and the Neanderthal society is really, really interesting. And who can dislike a world where woolly mammoths still roam North America?

But I do have some problems with it, too.

I won't deal with Mary Vaughn's rape and its aftermath, as others have done that at some length.

It's more than a mite annoying that the contrast between our society and Ponter's is largely used as an opportunity for one-sided criticism of ours. H. sapiens hunted most of the megafauna to extinction. (This is no longer believed to be true.) H. sapiens wiped out H. neanderthalis. (This is no longer believed to be true, and with another decade of research, we now know there was interbreeding among Sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans.) We still have violent crime. We do not successfully feed all of our very large population. We pollute the air. And, oh dear, we have religion.

What's interesting is that Ponter assumes without question that H. sapiens wiped out H. neanderthalis in our world, and H. sapiens wiped out H. sapiens in his world. It would seem that there's another possibility, especially since the means by which the Neanderthals have effectively culled violent behavior from their genome could not possibly have begun until they had advanced scientifically enough to reason out the genetics.

What's annoying is the discussion of religion between Ponter and Mary. Mary's a Catholic as well as a world-class geneticist, and might reasonably be expected to have a slightly more sophisticated understanding of religion. It's treated as an unquestionable fact that religious believers believe that religion, belief in God, is a necessary precursor of morality. That's a belief that is troublesome in many ways as well as demonstrably false. But having been raised Catholic myself, albeit in a different country than Mary was, I was taught that, on the contrary, the moral impulse comes first. "If anyone says "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar, because he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20 (English Standard Version) In short, that the innate moral impulse is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for belief in God.

Robert J. Sawyer is a smart guy, and knows how to do research. Perhaps he didn't realize he needed to do research on this. Certainly, if he had incorporated this view of the relationship between religion and morality, as taught by the religion Mary is said to believe in, it would have made Mary's position in that discussion rather stronger--perhaps uncomfortably so, for the agenda Mr. Sawyer seems to have been pursuing.

Now, it's not that he portrays the Neanderthals as perfect. By no means. It's just that Neanderthal failings seem to be matters of individual character, while Sapiens failings are shown as systemic and pervasive, despite the fine characters of Ponter's friends in this universe.

I think the ideological blinders do weaken the story and the book overall, but I like Ponter, Adikor, and their friends on both sides of the portal, and overall I enjoyed the book.

Recommended with reservations. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
Nice book. I read this because the new book I'm writing involves a parallel universe in which the dinosaurs didn't go extinct. Hominids involves a universe in which Neanderthals didn't go extinct.

The parts of the book written from the POV of the Neanderthal universe were boring to me, so I skimmed over them. You can do that and still enjoy the book and the ending. ( )
  TromboneAl | May 4, 2018 |
Reading Sawyer’s first book in his Neanderthal trilogy, I was struck by how simple a read it was. He did not get into a super-pretentiousness when he would do a little world-building. His descriptions of the Neanderthal alternate-Earth were in some ways veiled criticisms of our judicial system (in their world, you’re guilty until proven innocent) and lack of privacy (everyone has a computer, a Companion, grafted to them when they are recently born) as all your actions are recorded at a central database.

The other Earth, us, is a recent future where a Canadian company, INCO, is doing heavy water experiments in an old mine, cleaned up and rocking with a few goofy, cardboard-cut-out scientists.

The main character in our Earth is Mary, whom Sawyer creates as a sympathetic character by having her raped. Sorry but I thought this was unnecessary and graphic. I think the reader could have had some sympathy for her without her being violated. Further, we hear nothing more about the rapist for the rest of the book! What happened to him?

Despite this tragic scene, nothing is made much of it. Mary is nervous around men but that’s about it. When Ponter, the Neanderthal scientist, gets sucked into our world, Mary becomes infatuated with him. A touching scene at the end of the novel wraps that up a bit.

A third of the book is dedicated toward the trial of Ponter’s best friend, who is being tried for the supposed murder of Ponter, since Ponter disappeared and the idea of falling into an alternate Earth is just beyond anyone’s reality.

Last Thoughts: Decent pacing, good science. Love how the media is portrayed as a bunch of wolves after a story (same in the Neanderthal world – called Exhibitionists!). The relationship between Mary and Ponter could have been better explored, as well as further developing the scientist Louise and her new boyfriend.

So far I’m reaching for the next in the trilogy, “Human.”


( )
  James_Mourgos | Dec 22, 2016 |
Hominids is an engrossing tale of cultural contrasts. In this novel, Ponter, a physicist from a parallel universe, and his partner accidentally open a portal between their Earth and ours. Ponter is sucked into ours and his arrival makes quite an impression, not because of its unexpected nature or because of what it means to our understanding of physics but because Ponter is a Neanderthal. The book flips back and forth between showing what the consequences of this accident are in both worlds. In so doing, Sawyer provides an interesting contrast between their physiology, culture, religion (or lack thereof), and technology and ours. Looking at ourselves from the outside is one of the things I find most compelling about speculative fiction and Sawyer does that in this book. There were a few things I thought fairly contrived, poorly explained, or simply unlikely though.
The human (Homo sapiens) characters in the book are either one dimensional or simply unbelievable. One, a female geneticist called in to verify that Ponter’s DNA is, in fact, Neanderthal, seems especially so. She quickly falls for this gentle hunk of man after having been raped just prior to learning of his sudden appearance. The fact that this supposedly brilliant scientist who, somewhat oxymoronically, is a fairly devout Catholic, allows herself to be swept away emotionally in this way, especially after such a traumatic event, makes little sense. A hesitant friendship would be understandable but a romantic attraction, although it remains chaste, is not.
There is a discussion on consciousness between Mary, the geneticist, and another character toward the end of the book that also had me scratching my head. They are speculating on what it is that causes people, either us or the Neanderthals, to develop consciousness. The proposed hypothesis that this is somehow due to a sudden and poorly explained quantum event sounds almost magical. Mary doesn’t challenge the idea. In fact she seems to seriously consider it.
A third thing that I have a hard time with is the description of the Neanderthal society. It is described as a hunter-gatherer culture with a very small global population that never developed farming. Things like furniture are made individually by craftsmen (or crafts-women). No mention is made of any type of industry or mass production and yet they have somehow developed a technology capable of developing sophisticated robots and seemingly sentient artificial intelligence. How? Is this another mystical quantum thing?
This book gets three stars by default from me because it looks at our society from the outside and does so competently. The reason for the extra star is because it is highly absorbing at the beginning. I found it hard to put down and it did hold my attention. Another reason for the extra star is that I’ve met Mr. Sawyer and he’s a very charming fellow.
( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert J. Sawyerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hartwell, David G.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Marcel Gagné and Sally Tomasevic, Dude and The Other Dude, Great People, Great Friends
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765345005, Mass Market Paperback)

Hominids examines two unique species of people. We are one of those species; the other is the Neanderthals of a parallel world where they became the dominant intelligence. The Neanderthal civilization has reached heights of culture and science comparable to our own, but with radically different history, society and philosophy.

Ponter Boddit, a Neanderthal physicist, accidentally pierces the barrier between worlds and is transferred to our universe. Almost immediately recognized as a Neanderthal, but only much later as a scientist, he is quarantined and studied, alone and bewildered, a stranger in a strange land. But Ponter is also befriended—by a doctor and a physicist who share his questing intelligence, and especially by Canadian geneticist Mary Vaughan, a woman with whom he develops a special rapport.

Ponter’s partner, Adikor Huld, finds himself with a messy lab, a missing body, suspicious people all around and an explosive murder trial. How can he possibly prove his innocence when he has no idea what actually happened to Ponter?
 
Hominids is the winner of the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:52 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Hominids examines two unique species of people. We are one of those species; the other is the Neanderthals of a parallel world where they became the dominant intelligence. The Neanderthal civilization has reached heights of culture and science comparable to our own, but with radically different history, society and philosophy. Ponter Boddi, a Neanderthal physicist, accidentally pierces the barrier between worlds and is transferred to our universe. Almost immediately recognized as a Neanderthal, but only much later as a scientist, he is quarantined and studdied, alone and bewildered, a stranger in a strange land. But Ponter is also befriended-by a doctor and a physicist who share his questing intelligence, and especially by Canadian geneticist who share his questing intelligence, and especially by Canadian geneticisty Mary Vaughan, a woman with whom he develops a special rapport. Ponter's partner, Adikor Huld, finds himself with a messy lab, a missing body, suspicious people all around and an explosive murder trail. How can he possibly prove his innocence when he has no idea what actually happened to Ponter?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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