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Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  9,050 Ratings  ·  532 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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Community Reviews

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Jamie Collins
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
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
Brendon Schrodinger
Robert Sawyer can be a bit hit and miss to me, but 'Hominids' is the best hit he has had with me. This was a reread after about a decade at a guess. And while I knew the plot, the thought experiment is still strong and is a delight to read.

The book has its faults though. Like most of all Sawyer's books it revolves around a great idea, fleshed out to find interesting consequences and peopled with pawns to do his bidding. These people are a little more rounded than most SF characters, but still l

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my HUGO WINNERS list.

This is the reading list that follows the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I loved reading the Locus Sci-Fi Award winners so I'm going to crack on with the Hugo winners next (but only the post-1980 winners, I'll follow up with
Nov 10, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer concerns a parallel universe where Neanderthals became the dominant branch of humanity while Homo sapiens dies out, much in the same way that Neanderthals died out in our world.

By an accident of quantum physics, the two worlds are joined briefly and a Neanderthal physicist is sucked into our world. Sawyer uses this event to show the differences and distinctions of the two species, how they diverged and also as a vehicle, almost utopian or Brobdingnagian in nature, t
Feb 17, 2014 Sandi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, sci-fi
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.
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
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
Mike Moore
Apr 01, 2012 Mike Moore rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 03, 2010 Brad rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, canadian-lit
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
Not bad. Good enough that I will likely read book two in the series. I liked the concept of a parallel world in which Neanderthals survived and humans did not. To them we are the extinct and spindly Gliksins.

The story revolves around a Neanderthal physicist who was accidentally transported to our world during a scientific experiment in their world. The author then focuses on the reaction to a discovery of Neanderthal in our world while simultaneously covering a murder trial involving the scient
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
oguz kaan
Bu kitap beni çok arada bıraktı.

Hard sci-fi kitapları okurken yazarın anlatım yeteneği kitap hakkında ki fikirlerimi etkiliyor. Kafamı allak bullak edecek, okurken ipin ucunu kaçıracağım farklı, ilgi duyduğum veya duymadığım konuyu baz alıyorlar. Fakat bu durum okurken beni zorlayacak biçimde mi ele almış yoksa anlaşılabilirliği üst seviye de olan bir anlatım mı var? Açıkcası bu soruya vereceğim cevap beğenim için önemli oluyor. İnsansılar'da ki Neanderthaller veya kuantum teorisi ilgimi çeken
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
Ashley Chua
4.5 stars. Read it really fast during work because it was a slow day. And when I mean slow I mean no one walked into the shop. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, because I've been reading my ebooks in the pretext of doing Something Important on my phone, like checking my email.

(Partial, non-important spoilers ahead)

Once again, RJS wowed me with his ability to dream up and write into being whole, plausible worlds, with this one endearingly familiar yet so wondrously different. While quantum p
Jan 02, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 14, 2010 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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!
Mar 12, 2010 Jacinda rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book raises several disturbing questions. Questions like, "How did this get published?", "Doesn't Tor have editors on staff?", and, most shocking of all, "How the hell did this piece of shit win a Hugo?"

When encountering the unsophisticated writing style, I figured that Sawyer was some sort of scientist trying his hand at sci-fi, but that can't possibly be the case, given the myriad scientific misconceptions scattered everywhere in the book. The thing reminds me of all the horribly outdated
Aug 09, 2014 Julia rated it did not like it
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
Feb 22, 2010 Kiri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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
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 amounts to a high-tech barter system with no agricultural underpinning, and makes t
Fred Hughes
Jan 10, 2012 Fred Hughes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. The other two being Humans (book 2) and Hybrid (book 3).

In this book we have a Neanderthal physicist called Ponter Boddit running a quantum computer establishing a portal between his world and Earth. One minute he’s checking out a computer and the next minute he is gone.

Arriving on Earth he finds himself inside a sphere of heavy water used for neutrino research. He is rescued by Dr Mary Vaughan (human geneticist) who is monitoring the n
Sep 25, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 13, 2009 Lilly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...If you consider science fiction the literature of ideas, you can't get much better than this book. Hominids is so full of ideas and interesting theories than one reading is probably not enough to catch them all. I think it did go at the expense of the story itself though. As you can see I used one paragraph for the synopsis where I usually need two or even three. I felt I couldn't write more without giving the entire plot away. The story is a bit thin. I hope Sawyer manages to create a bit mo ...more
Feb 23, 2009 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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The Rape 3 39 Apr 27, 2013 01:29AM  
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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 about Robert J. Sawyer...

Other Books in the Series

Neanderthal Parallax (3 books)
  • Humans (Neanderthal Parallax, #2)
  • Hybrids (Neanderthal Parallax, #3)

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