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Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax) [Hardcover]

Robert J Sawyer
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 444 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (1 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312876920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312876920
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14.8 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,464,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer has been described as Canada's answer to Michael Crichton. Critically acclaimed in the US he is regarded as one of SF's most significant writers and his novels are regularly voted as fan's favourites. He lives in Canada.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multicultural melange - with a twist 10 Jan 2004
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Format:Mass Market Paperback
You have to give Sawyer credit. He offers a Francophone, a Japanese-Canadian, a Canadian-Jamaican, an Ojibway, a Neanderthal, multiple universes, and a rape - all in the first 80 pages. He uses well-established credentials in converting science, albeit speculative, into fiction. He has achieved a high point with this book. Incorporating geology, paleoanthropology and quantum physics into this story, he makes a fantastic situation both credible and readable.
In this first volume of a trilogy, physicist Ponter Boddit disappears in mysterious circumstances from a deep mine physics laboratory. Ponter, however, is not of this earth. He is of an "advanced" Neanderthal society in an alternative universe. Homo sapiens has apparently gone extinct in his world, but Ponter emerges in a world where that "extinct" species dominates. Sawyer uses the need for Ponter's adjustment to his novel environment to examine many aspects of our society - its values, beliefs and practices. Communication is enhanced by Ponter's possession of an electronic implant that "learns" words and derives meaning from context. It's a cunning ploy, reflecting a measure of desparation to move Sawyer's other ideas along more readily. He further suggests the Neanderthal's brain capacity could mean greater intelligence, even an enhanced moral sense.
The story itself isn't complex. What happens in Ponter's world to account for his disappearance, and what must he do to adapt to the one he's in? The circumstances surrounding these issues give Sawyer the opportunity to minutely examine and contrast the two societies. People in the world Pondar left prove very "human" in their motives and behaviour. Although their society is drastically different, their emotions and interactions are vividly familiar.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multiverse in Parallel 12 Nov 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
With HOMINIDS Sawyer has created a fascinating story with all the ingredients of a traditional science fiction novel - and a lot more. He presents the reader with a different view on life on earth - but not from the usual perspective of 'aliens' coming from outer space as he has done in previous novels. He imagined an alternative hominid reality - that of the Neanderthals - existing in parallel with ours.
Ponter Bobbit, a physicist in this parallel universe, literally drops into ours, seemingly out of nowhere and is found floating in a tank of heavy water. An accident in his quantum computing department opens up a brief window between the two realities. The people in the science lab in Sudbury, (Ontario) were taken by surprise, to say the least. They require some time to work out who he is and what his appearance represents. This is the hook that leads to a clever and imaginative description of human (homo sapiens) attitudes vis-à-vis the unexpected. An engaging story of sharing and mutual learning from both realities in this multiverse develops from there. In particular the exchange between Mary Vaughan, the geneticist brought in to examine the Neanderthal’s DNA, and Ponter explore some pretty fundamental issues in both societies.
While Ponter is learning how to communicate with an ethnically diverse group of homo sapiens, in his Neanderthal reality his disappearance leads to a completely different set of problems. A small pool of heavy water provides the only hint of something having gone wrong. But, a person cannot really disappear thanks to the “alibi archives” that record where everybody is at any time. So, his friend and colleague, Adikor Huld, is charged with his murder.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two kinds of humans meet 21 Feb 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In Hominids (the first part of a trilogy) a Neanderthal physicist from an alternate reality ends up in our universe. His civilization is also an advanced one, but rather different from ours, the divergences seem to be partly based on biology. The Neanderthal and the Canadian researchers who make first contact with him make some progress understanding each other's worlds. Robert J. Sawyer is also a humorous writer, and includes quite a lot of snippets of media coverage and what modern groups might say if a Neanderthal was to appear in our modern world. As usual, Sawyer presents us with a good read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars HOMINIDS 7 May 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Light science fiction and a counter-balance to Jean Auel's novels about the Neanderthals, and the Dimitra Papagianni and Michael Morse book that updates the scientific discoveries of Neanderthals.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great science fiction 1 July 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great science fiction using both existing science and speculative theory to create an entertaining and engaging story, on finishing this book I ordered the remaining parts of the trilogy. Great stuff.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 31 May 2008
By Steven R. McEvoy TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Hominids is an intriguing speculative fiction book. The main premise is based on Quantum theory. Parallel to our world are many other worlds. Some very close to ours and some not. In our story, Ponter Boddit, often referred to as Scholar Boddit, is one of our main characters. He is a Quantum Physicist from a parallel world. While working on a Quantum computer, he is translated into the same location in our Universe; unfortunately it is the center of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. Then the true adventure begins.

Ponter is given Canadian Citizenship, which is unusual because he is a Neanderthal. One could argue however, that a Neanderthal emerging from an INCO mine in Sudbury might not be that far out of the question. Many around the world believe it is a hoax - some believe it is true and a Ponter cult begins. Some want to control him and his knowledge.

In our sister earth, they have not ever had a global war, not developed nuclear weapons, or destroyed the environment the way we have. There is much we could learn from our cousins in this world.

Follow Ponter as he develops friendships, experiences religion and learns that we don't have to be homo sapiens to be human.
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