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Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer
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Hominids (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Robert J. Sawyer

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1,434405,236 (3.62)54
Member:davidhburton
Title:Hominids
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 (2002)

  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 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Interesting and good. Not quite as effective at provoking thought as some of his others. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
I read this as part of my "reading all the Hugo winners" goal.
All I have to say is: This book was up against China Mieville's 'The Scar' - and THIS won? WHAT?
Sorry, but this is just not a very good book.

The premise is that, due to an accident that occurs during a quantum physics experiment, a Neanderthal scientist from a parallel universe where humanity is the race that went extinct, finds himself stranded in our world.
There's plenty to work with there, lots of potential. However, that potential is not realized.
The book is written in the style I like to refer to as "late 20th-century Mainstream Bestseller." However, this breezy beach-read style is broken up by extended awkward and unbelievable dialogues. Sawyer's point is to show the problems of our society by contrasting it with his imaginary Neanderthal society. Unfortunately, his way of doing this is to get two characters stuck in a room together and make them talk at length, in a very stilted, artificial manner about the topic at hand.
So we get to hear polemics on religion, gender relations, overpopulation, etc, etc. I absolutely agree with some of Sawyer's opinions, I disagree strongly with others. Whether or not I agree with his points is not relevant, the problem is that the topics are introduced and discussed in such a clunky fashion.

Also, as a woman, I felt that Sawyer showed a significant lack of understanding of women in general. His depiction of the reactions of a female character who is raped read like they come straight out of some psychology text, without ever genuinely getting inside her head or creating empathy. I also objected to his depiction of a gender-separatist society that apparently has developed because women are so bitchy due to PMS that men have to live separately from them. I will admit the actual existence of PMS (supposedly it occurs in 2 to 5% of women), and maybe Neanderthals could potentially be more susceptible to it. But yeah, Sawyer's depiction of women in general rubbed me the wrong way.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This is one terrific book but that's really not a surprise to me. I haven't read everything Sawyer has written. As a matter of fact I think I've only been reading his stuff since 2009 so this book, which was published in 2002, is new to me. However, everything I have read by him has been very good. And there is the small matter that it won the 2003 Hugo Award so many other people thought it was good too.

Located 2100 metres underground in a disused nickel mine in Ontario is the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO). It is located there because cosmic rays cannot penetrate that deep under the Canadian shield but neutrinos can. When neutrinos hit the neutron of a hydrogen atom in heavy water the collision causes a light to be emitted and this can be detected. The data gathered at SNO confirmed that neutrinos oscillate which physicists had predicted. This is important in the world of physics. In fact, the scientist who led the discovery, Art McDonald, was co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2015.

This book starts with a scientist from another reality being transposed into the SNO detector. Ponter Boddit is from a version of earth where the Neanderthals survived and homo sapiens died out. In his reality the subterranean location was the ideal spot to set up a quantum computer which is a computer that uses other realities to perform complex calculations very quickly. The computer opened a portal into SNO and Ponter and a large quantity of air were exchanged with a volume of heavy water.

Of course, the appearance of a Neanderthal in modern day Canada creates quite a stir. Mary Vaughan, a geneticist from Toronto who sequenced part of the Neanderthal genome from some bones, is asked to travel to Sudbury to authenticate that Ponter is genuine. Mary, who is traumatized by being raped, takes this opportunity to get some distance from the scene of the rape. She has not told anyone about the rape, certainly not the Toronto police.

Back on Ponter's home world his disappearance has created another stir. Everyone in that world wears an implant that acts as a personal computer and a recording device. Ponter's device cannot communicate from the reality Ponter is now in. His co-worker and man-mate, Adikor Huld, has been charged with Ponter's murder since he was the last person to be with Ponter.

As we travel between the two worlds we discover just how different they are. In the Neanderthal reality wooly mammoths still roam the earth, there is virtually no crime and the population is far less than the human world. Neanderthals still live like hunter gatherers so there is no farming. Violence has been bred out of the genome because anyone who behaved violently was castrated as were all of their relatives who shared fifty percent of their genes. It sounds pretty idyllic but maybe there are a few worms in the apple.

I really appreciated how Sawyer portrayed women in this book. I thought he showed a lot of empathy for Mary, the victim of rape. Even more interesting to me was the depiction of the sexual dynamics in the Neanderthal world. Although I did wonder why the children had to stay with the females while they were young. Maybe Sawyer will address that in later books of this trilogy. I guess I'll have to read them to find out. ( )
  gypsysmom | Nov 23, 2015 |
This was an excellent book, with some great, intriguing world-building and original characters.

Occasionally, the author seems to insert an idea he likes too much to pass up, even if it doesn't fit. "Ooh, here's a discussion of atheist ethics, in which a highly educated human has somehow never considered the idea before, but a person from an entirely atheist society has an explanation ready!" Fortunately, it doesn't happen very often. ( )
  lavaturtle | Dec 31, 2014 |
The first book in this series was very good, by the second book I got tired of the author's attitude toward religion (he pretended to have his main protagonist be "religious" but she really wasn't), and by the third book I was actively rooting against the heroic Neanderthals, hoping they would just die out (again). ( )
  piersanti | Sep 28, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert J. Sawyerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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The blackness was absolute.
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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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