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Humans (Neanderthal Parallax) Paperback – 6 Jul 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1 Reprint edition (6 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765326337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765326331
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 468,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The background to Humans has Ponter Boddit happy to be back in his own world of Neanderthals. He has reunited with friends and family and returned to his life as a physicist. Yet he can't help but feel that there remains unfinished business from his trip to the parallel world inhabited by the strange, possibly dangerous people who call themselves homo sapiens. And he would like to see Mary Vaughan again.

Humans, the second volume in Robert J Sawyer's Parallax trilogy, tells the story of Ponter's second trip to our world and the opening of the portal between worlds to a few other travellers. It is for the most part a quiet story of the deepening relationship between Ponter and Mary as Ponter continues his investigation of the human world and develops a growing interest in the preoccupation of its residents with religion. Meanwhile, intercut scenes of Ponter in therapy on his homeworld contribute to a growing tension in the story, as the reason for Ponter's feelings of guilt is slowly revealed. At the same time, scientists are beginning to notice that there is something odd happening with the magnetic fields of both Earths.

Although it's the middle volume of a trilogy that began with Hominids, the main story in Humans stands alone. Sawyer's enjoyable prose is sprinkled with sly comments on the mutual foibles of Canadians and Americans and Ponter in particular is given several good lines. Set firmly in our present, Humans relies on hard science for its set-up, but the heart of the novel is Mary and Ponter's acceptance of their love for each other. It's a hard-science-fiction romance and Sawyer tells this story of love across boundaries very well. --Greg L. Johnson, Amazon.ca --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"The biggest job of science fiction is to portray the Other. To help us imagine the strange and see the familiar in eerie new ways. Nobody explores this territory more boldly than Robert Sawyer."--David Brin on "Humans
""Hominids is anthropological fiction at its best."-- W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O'Neal Gear, "USA Today-bestselling "authors of Raising Abel
"A rapidly plotted, anthropologically saturated speculative novel . . . [with] Sawyer-signature wide appeal." "-The Globe & Mail on "Hominids

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Trilogies have inherent dangers. A second volume must stand alone, which this one does. The characters must build and not slip into static postures. Sawyer accomplishes this by the simple expedient of increasing the interaction of the two protagonists. The plot must move in new directions. This is also achieved, not least by Ponter's return to this "Earth" and Mary's journey to the Neanderthal universe. In their respective universes, Mary and Ponter encounter new people, achieve new levels of interaction and struggle to resolve contentious issues. This last, of course, is but partially successful. This is, after all, a trilogy.
Sawyer's "poetic licence" must run many pages, imposing few constraints. Travel permits are included. He takes us across many borders - between nations, between universes, between species, and over into gender relations. We tour around many fields - geophysics, genetics, cosmology, and, of course, paleoanthropology. If any writer can keep the science in "sci-fi," it's Sawyer. It's a fascinating journey, undertaken at a headlong pace. Through it all, we follow the complex lives of human Mary Vaughan and Neanderthal Ponter Boddit. If all this seems heady stuff, fear not. Sawyer's skillful prose and vivid portrayals will keep you reading steadily. It's all realistic, if not real.
Most readers of this book will have read Hominids, and will go on to finish the trilogy. Readers must be warned, however, Sawyer has a poorly hidden agenda. As in many of his other works, Sawyer seems intent on bringing us to his god. An astonishing amount of time is spent in both volumes on discussions of faith and, that old bugaboo, the "afterlife." Little of Ponter's science is discussed, but his personality is drawn as cool, rational almost to an extreme.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fine sequel to Hominids. As well as the sci-fi aspect of parallel worlds where humans died out on the other world, the author has a dig at some aspects of our beliefs. Particularly religion and war. Neanderthals do not believe in a supreme being or an afterlife. They also find Wars pointless. This has resulted in some negative reviews. I actually enjoyed the story more because of the questioning of humanity.

Ray Smillie
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
With HUMANS, the second volume in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, Sawyer is drawing the reader deep into the parallel worlds of Mary Vaughan and Ponter Bobbit. Most people who delve into the story will have read HOMINIDS and understand the basic philosophical and scientific concepts presented. Those who have not would be well advised to pick up the first volume before getting too deeply into this one. Otherwise they may miss out on depth and complexity of what is presented.
HUMANS is a very entertaining read, fast paced and engaging. There are also very funny moments. The two key representatives, Mary, from “our” Earth and Ponter, from the Neanderthals’ universe, continue to explore their respective realities in a multitude of ways. Ponter ‘returns’ to Canada and Mary has the opportunity to explore the ‘other side’. Their continuing dialogue and interaction form the centrepiece of the novel. Subjects range from such topical scientific questions as the impact of the possible collapse the Earth’s magnetic field to the exploration of societal structures and human relationships. Above all, discussions return regularly to Mary’s religious side of life. Ponter, having reflected on faith as a conundrum for a Neanderthal scientist ever since he left this earth, becomes more deeply drawn to the question of spirituality and morality on his return visit.
Sawyer introduces new players to complement the set of characters well know from HOMINIDS. In particular, the Neanderthal women round off the depiction of life in their world. The global leadership in the Neanderthal’s universe, the High Gray Council, deliberates at length whether to reopen the portal to the “Gliksin” world.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Poor followup to Hominids with plot being replaced by polemic. There are several "discussions" which seem more like rants to me which can easily be skipped (as can the long sex scene) without harming the plot at all. I would have liked more show with less tell.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I've a relative newcomer to Mr. Sawyer's works. I rather enjoyed Hominids, the first in this trilogy, but frankly, I was disappointed by this sequel. It is mildly diverting to find out a little more about Mary and Ponter, but beyond that, the rest of the book is really pretty flat. Where new characters are introduced, they seem one-dimensional, and plot-lines never develop significantly. The book becomes a thinly disguised rant at gun ownership, and also has a good go at our "civilisation", contrasting it with the utopia enjoyed by the Neanderthals. No objection to these themes being used -- but I would like a little thought to be put into them, and perhaps opposing points of view contrasted.
Some mildly diverting bits, and the section based at the Vietnam memorial was moving; however, this book left a nasty taste in my mouth. I doubt if I'll bother with the 3rd installment, and Mr. Sawyer is not likely to be an automatic buy for me, based on this outing.
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