Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1)
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Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  6,466 ratings  ·  428 reviews
A complete and satisfying novel in itself, Hominids is also the first book of The Neanderthal Parallax, a trilogy that will examine two unique species of people. They are alien to each other, yet alike in their never-ending quest for knowledge and essential humanity. We are one of those species, the other is the Neanderthals of a parallel world where they, not Homo sapiens...more
Hardcover, 444 pages
Published May 3rd 2002 by Tor Books (first published 2002)
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Greg
The idea of this novel is fairly interesting. In an alternate universe Neanderthals survived instead of our branch of the evolutionary tree. While testing a quantum computer a swap ends up happening between the two realities and a Neanderthal scientist finds himself in our reality. The Neanderthals get some radioactive water from us. Fair trade.

Culture shock follows and a compare and contrast between our present society and the what might have been if Neanderthals lived and we just disappeared...more
Jamie
This is worth reading for the intriguing depiction of an advanced neanderthal society, but it's not a very well-written novel.

The narrative was more readable when it focused on the neanderthals, perhaps because the alienness of the society kept my attention, but as soon as it returned to the homo sapiens the prose became clunky enough to pull me out of the story. The characterizations are poor, particularly that of Mary, one of the main protagonists.

And the author almost ruined my enjoyment of t...more
Sandi
Wow! I have grown really sick and tired of books that take 100-200 pages to get into. I'm even more sick and tired of whole books that just set up the reader for the sequels. "Hominids" is neither. The first chapter just sucked me right in. It was probably the most exciting first chapter I've read in a long, long time. And, the book is a self-contained story. It does leave room for a sequel, but doesn't require that you read it. The premise is terrific too.

I've never read anything by Robert J....more
Jonathan Smith
-- Warning, contains spoilers, mostly regarding an early traumatic event for a main character --

I would like to read the sequel to this book, although probably not for the right reason. I found the core concept interesting, but in some ways, it felt like the thought experiment was flawed. I'll stipulate that the premise interested me: how would things be different if things had gone another way in early earth life? It's a nice twist on the rugged science fiction horse of how an alien society com...more
Clouds
In my last review (Downbelow Station) I mentioned that I find 3-star reviews the hardest kind to write, because they're always a muddle of good and bad - or in more extreme cases excellent and terrible!

This is one of the latter kind - equally excellent and terrible.

I don't often do this, but it this case I feel it's necessary:

-- THIS IS A (RANTING) SPOILER REVIEW --

Please do not read if you wish to be surprised by anything in this novel
^^(If I used spoiler tags you'd need to click-show half th...more
Ian
Hominids is a pretty good first book in a trilogy with a cool premise, namely, that there is a parallel universe where Neanderthals became the dominant hominid species on an otherwise-identical Earth. I use the term “pretty good” deliberately, knowing full well this book won the 2003 Hugo. And let’s be clear: I did enjoy the book insofar as it was, well, pretty good. Ultimately, though, I was a little disappointed given the awards and attention this book has received. So I wonder if what it com...more
Brad
This is going to be one of those reviews where I'll sound much more negative than I really feel, so please bear with me.

Is Neanderthal Parallax really the best Canadian Sci-Fi has to offer? I ask the question seriously because I've been told repeatedly that this series is the finest Canadian Sci-Fi and that Robert J. Sawyer is Canada's finest Sci-Fi writer. If this is really the case then Canada is a Sci-Fi ghetto. After all, Sawyer is no Iain M. Banks (Scotland), no Richard Morgan (England), n...more
Stephen
3.5 stars. Excellent premise, great world-building and well drawn characters. The concept of a society evolved from Neanderthals was deftly handled. Recommended.

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Mike Moore
It seems that every so often, the sci-fi community embraces a new variant of the old story where an enlightened figure from a superior society descends to point out everything that's wrong with us. I've pretty much lost patience with this motif, I think it's intellectually lazy and philosophically infantile. Besides, they've all blended together in my mind at this point, and so this book is doomed to merge with a composite that includes the Dispossessed, the Man who Fell to Earth and Crocodile D...more
Christin
What a pity a book with a reasonable array of new angles on ideas and social commentary had to be marred by clunky, clumsy, even offensive, writing, such as the author's emphasis and harping on what he unblushingly calls "periods" (no, not a full-stop, but yes indeed, that very embarassing menstruation thing); not to mention the graphic rape scene that he introduces one of the main characters with.

..and indeed the character undergoing this (seemingly unneccessary to the plot, except for it allow...more
Ben Babcock
Few things are probably scarier than suddenly being utterly and totally alone. Robert J. Sawyer reminds us of that fact by transposing Ponter Boddit, a Neanderthal physicist, from the parallel universe in which he resides to our universe, where Neanderthals have been extinct for tens of thousands of years. Aside from having instant celebrity status—including the paparazzi that come with it—Ponter must face the fact that he might never return to his own universe. And back in his universe, this ha...more
Aaron
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cindy
Part of my March 2010 Hugo Award winner bonanza.

Here's what my husband had to say about the book after he picked it up from the university library: "It appears to be about monkey-men. Therefore, it appears to be awesome."
______________

There's something to be said for a book that draws you in every time you pick it up. Each time it only took a page before I was fully in the "flow" - ignoring everything around me, forgetting my own life. And there are evolved Neanderthals and parallel universes!...more
Kiri
Interesting thesis and plot, abysmal characterization (why does this keep happening to me?). Sawyer creates an interesting parallel world in which Homo sapiens died out and the Neanderthals instead took our evolutionary niche and progressed technologically to the present. Our world and theirs meet when their quantum computer "crashes" and accidentally sends us a Neanderthal (yeah, that raised a couple of scientific hackles, but I'm willing to let it go as a premise). So far, so good: lots of pot...more
Althea Ann
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 potentia...more
Matt
In the interest of writing a fair review, I try to point out everything I can think of about a novel, both good and bad. I try not to gush too much about the things that I like, and similarly, I would like not to completely tear apart everything I don't like. The unfortunate thing about reviewing Robert J. Sawyer's Hugo award winning novel Hominids is that no matter how hard I try, I cannot come up with a single part of it I don't like.

The story is simple and brilliant: in a parallel universe in...more
Nick
While the author let some interesting cultural biases slip in, the speculations about what a Neanderthal-based civilization might have been like are fascinating. For instance, if your civilization has no strong privacy taboos, how would that be reflected in the culture and the law?
Oddly, the place I had to suspend disbelief was socio-economic, as I didn't think the Neanderthal culture's structure worked well...it amounts to a high-tech barter system with no agricultural underpinning, and makes t...more
Amy
This is the second book of Sawyer's that I've read, and I'll surely read more. While I do enjoy Sawyer's philosophizing of the big ideas his stories revolve around, I do feel the lack of having an epic storyline to correspond with his epic ideas. Based on the preview I read, I'm guessing that the epic plot-line still doesn't appear in the sequels to this book. Still, it's an enjoyable read.

In this particular novel, Sawyer imagines a man crossing over to our world from a parallel Earth in which...more
Lilly
I wish I could give this 3.5. Hmph. Anyway, I liked the premise - Neanderthal physicists accidentally open a gateway into our version of Earth. Their alternate universe is one in which Neanderthals, not Homo sapiens, became the dominant (and only) humans. One of the physicists gets trapped on our side of the universe for a bit, and hilarity ensues.
The descriptions of Neanderthal society are v. interesting, with a good basis in what we know of them - it's plausible they would have evolved in that...more
Trin
In a quantum computing accident worthy of a Stargate episode, a Neanderthal physicist from a parallel Earth where Homo sapiens died out while Homo neanderthalensis (or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, if you prefer) thrived is sucked into our world. He's rescued from drowning by physics postdoc Louise Benoît, put under the medical care of Dr. Reuben Montego, and befriended by geneticist Mary Vaughan. Meanwhile, back in Ponter's, the Neanderthal's, world, his work and life partner Adikor is accused...more
Melanie
Anthropology, Biology and Phyics were my three favorite subjects in school, along with History, I guess. And this book completely straddles all of them. The writing style/character development may have lacked in certain areas, but overall, I found the story very entertaining. The idea of an advanced neandertal society based on other primate social structures was very enjoyably depicted to me. And I love learning about quantum theory, so really enjoyed the bits of physics sortof haphazardly throw...more
Nathan
Two parallel universes: one where our ancestors lived and Neanderthals went extinct and one where the Neanderthals lived and we died out. During a quantum computing experiment a Neanderthal physicist is accidentally shifted to our world. He becomes a celebrity here and back in his strange version of earth his partner is put on trial for his murder. This book is full of Well written characters and exciting scenes, the world building aspect of the Neanderthal society is very well done too. Awesome...more
Jacinda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julia
So disappointed by this book. It started out seeming very promising, but then it wasted all its potential.

I love fish out of water stories. I love alternate societies that are used as a commentary on our society. A lot of this was done well here. Honestly, this is the only good portrayal of a polyamorous person I've seen in published fiction. But it didn't go far enough. Never did the polyamory/monogamy divide become an issue. Never was Neanderthal society used to critique rape culture, which sh...more
Brian
This book is a real mixed bag of pretty good and pretty weak.

The concept is pretty good. It uses parallel worlds and Neanderthals as a great tool to compare and contrast with all of us.

That's something good sci-fi should do, and it's hard to come up with that 'almost human' alien in a believable way. Using a genetic kissing cousin makes sense. It's not original - cue Brin's dolphins and chimps as just one more recent example - but it works.

The human characters in the story are, well, a little...more
Jessica
Hominids won the Hugo Award in 2003, which led me to pick it up. I think that I have liked this one the best of the Hugo Award winners that I have read so far. I even wanted to continue reading the series that this book begins, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, neither of the two copies of the second book in my library system are available. But I suppose it will stay on my reading list, and maybe one day I'll finish the series.
Hominids is an excellent example of speculative science fict...more
Merredith
Oct 09, 2008 Merredith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anthropologists
Hominids by Robert J Sawyer is the first in a series, and it also apparently won a Hugo Award. The book posits that there are many paralell universes. In one of them, Homo Sapiens became the dominant species of the world, but in another, Neanderthals did. A scientist from the Neanderthal world accidentally transports himself to our parallel universe. The book deals with him being here, but it also, and more interestingly, deals with his dissapearance from his own world. He was working alone unde...more
Leslie
This book was both more enjoyable and more annoying than I expected it to be. On the annoying side, one of the few violent scenes in the book was more graphic than necessary for the overall tone of the book. The payoff for one of the characters and her motivations started off with the potential to be fascinating then fell flat at the end. There were serious undertones of misogyny that took a somewhat abrupt swing to misandry in the latter part of the book, and the author's views on religion came...more
Bill Purdy
Apr 01, 2008 Bill Purdy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys good, earthbound sci-fi
Backstory is important with sci-fi titles, since that's the foundation on which entire careers are launched. It seems the guiding principal of successfully writing SF (i.e., actually making a living doing it) is to develop and establish a compelling "universe," preferably one that resonates with the book-buying public, then milk that "universe" for all it's worth by first writing a trilogy, then (if you're really good) writing several more trilogies (e.g., "Volume 17 of the Ayy'k'brin Starquest"...more
Mandy Moody
What a fun book! I enjoyed reading Hominids so much - it was like reading candy. Despite being such a fun read, there's a lot of substance to this book, both scientifically and as a work of literature.
Hominids is the story of a Neanderthal man, Ponter Bobbit, who lives in a parallel universe, but ends up here as the result of a quantom computing accident. On Ponter's Earth, Neanderthals became the dominent species and homo sapiens died out. The comparissons between his version of earth and ours...more
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The Rape 3 30 Apr 27, 2013 01:29AM  
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25883
Robert J. Sawyer is one of Canada's best known and most successful science fiction writers. He is the only Canadian (and one of only 7 writers in the world) to have won all three of the top international awards for science fiction: the 1995 Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment, the 2003 Hugo Award for Hominids, and the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan.
Robert Sawyer grew up in...more
More about Robert J. Sawyer...
Flashforward Calculating God WWW: Wake (WWW, #1) Humans (Neanderthal Parallax, #2) WWW: Watch (WWW, #2)

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