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Humans (Neanderthal Parallax #2)

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,227 Ratings  ·  176 Reviews
Robert J. Sawyer, the award-winning and bestselling writer, hits the peak of his powers in Humans, the second book of The Neanderthal Parallax, his trilogy about our world and parallel one in which it was the Homo sapiens who died out and the Neanderthals who became the dominant intelligent species. This powerful idea allows Sawyer to examine some of the deeply rooted assu ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 22nd 2003 by Tor Books (first published February 1st 2003)
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This book is pretty terrible.

I shouldn't have gone on with the series. Now that I'm two thirds of the way through I feel like i should finish it. Just to see where this train wreck is going. It's the book equivalent of slowing down while passing a car wreck, hoping to maybe see a decapitated head.

Another reviewer called out this book as basically being an extended liberal strawman argument. Yeah, it is that.

My friend Ceridwen said something about a part of a Sawyer book she read being like so
Fantasy Literature
Ponter, the Neanderthal from another dimension, is back on Earth – our Earth.

This time, Ponter has brought nearly a dozen of the most celebrated scientists and intellectuals from his world. Though we humans are a difficult bunch to deal with, the Neanderthals seem determined to make contact work. Thank goodness, since a lone gunman on our side shoots a member of their delegation as soon as he gets the chance. Mary, meanwhile, is recruited into an American think tank that is determined to figure
Feb 16, 2011 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really love this author and want to read everything he's written. His books are so good that at first I thought his writing was nothing special, generic. This is because I become so wrapped up in his stories and the worlds he creates, I can't extricate myself enough to see his "style" or comment or even remember his particular wording. From page 1, I am immediately absorbed. I like his characters. I care about them. They are all really distinct and do not fall into cliches. While I know who is ...more
Bruce Kroeze
Oct 04, 2010 Bruce Kroeze rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
The second book in this series. It won awards, though I can't figure out why.

I found the characters to be even more cardboard cutouts than in the first novel. Also, the sharp insight and extrapolations based on science were notably lacking in this one.

Of course, Neanderthals are good in every way. Handsome men with giant units, they are great and sensitive lovers of course, sweet new-age men who pull together for the good of all.

Who wouldn't love this contrived utopia where no animal has ever go
Feb 02, 2010 Fred rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
More human bashing using our oh so perfect yet totalitarian neanderthal cousins. Simplistic ideas tightly wrapped in bullshit and I wanted the main characters to die. couldn't finish it. Got it as an audiobook, I was sighing and rolling my eyes so much that people around me started taking it personally.
This is sci-fi for congenital idiots.
This is one of those series that underscores science fiction as speculative fiction. Beyond being a compelling story, it's an amazing forum for social commentary.

By looking at the alternate world where Neanderthals became the dominant human species, rather than homo sapiens, we can easily see many roads not taken, and the consequences that followed. Things like overpopulation, slavery, and certain livestock born diseases would not exist if we were still hunter/gatherers. There would also be mor
What the hell just happened here? The first book in Robert Sawyer’s “Neanderthal Parallax,” Hominids, was a science fiction exploration of an alternate dimension in which the Neanderthal society became the apex predator, and how this society evolved in a modern day Earth. It won a Hugo award, and if not perfect was at least an entertaining read. It was good enough for me to want to read the second book in the series, Humans.

This second book, well, let’s just say it is not the same. Humans now ho
Lis Carey
Feb 22, 2014 Lis Carey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf, fiction
Note: This review is from several years ago, I'm guessing 2005 or 2006. Clearly I had a very different reaction to Humans Humans (Neanderthal Parallax, #2) by Robert J. Sawyer than to Hominids Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1) by Robert J. Sawyer. I have no idea whether the quality of the two books is really that different, or the change is in me, or whether Humans simply doesn't work out of sequence, but would work better if I read them in order.

This is a 2004 Hugo Award nominee for Best Novel. No, really, it is. You can check the website.

It's also the second of Sawyer's three novels about our ki
Aug 23, 2011 Merredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: archaeology and anthropology lovers
A couple of years ago, I borrowed an at the time roommate's copy of the first volume in this trilogy. It sets up that way back at the beginning of humanity, earth split into two parallel universes, and in the other, it was us who died out, and neanderthals who became the humans of the world. they accidentally open a portal to canada, and the saga begins. In this second of the three books, the main character Ponter convinces his government to let him reopen the portal, and crosses back into our r ...more
Darren Vincent
Mar 06, 2012 Darren Vincent rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
An incredible book. My review of the first book in the series was that I was not all that impressed in comparison to some of his other books. This book more than makes up for whatever I felt was lacking in that book. THIS book is pure Sawyer. Pure fiction backed by (seemingly) sound science. And that is just the shell of the plot.

What makes this book so great (as well as some of his others) is the ideas he brings forth from within the main plot. There were some ideas and situations that I was no
Jan 24, 2011 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The story line for this series continues to be interesting but as I continue to read a number of Sawyer's books in rapid succession I am becoming less and less fond of his writing.

Some of it is just annoying. For example, in this book a main character in the story is a female PhD Geneticist who works at York University in Toronto. She is offered a job in Rochester, NY, and asks "That's not far from here, is it?" Doh! It's across the lake from you lady! While in Rochester it is suggested that sh
Jul 02, 2014 Susanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What I said about the first book of the trilogy.

Plus: The author shouldn't have listened to whoever told him that it was time for a very explicit sex scene. You should only write about the things you know after all...

And I won't even try to understand why the Neanderthal protagonist has to become a Christian - I am afraid my head would explode if I did.
VanGogh's Beard
Mar 06, 2011 VanGogh's Beard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I had to wait a day or two before I wrote the review for this book.
The first was was amazing and offered such possibility for the exploration of a new world.
This one is such a disappointment.

What it ends up being is a weak romance/rape/revenge novel.
If you're into that kind of thing, you'll dig this series.
If you're a caucasian male and enjoy feeling responsible for all the ills of the world, this will tickle your guilt as well.

I finished it and am curious to see if the last one rede
John Loyd
Mar 07, 2016 John Loyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humans (2003) 317 pages by Robert J. Sawyer

In Hominids a portal between alternate Earths was opened and Ponter Boddit slipped from his world where Neanderthals have evolved and gliksins are extinct into a world like ours. Ponter made friends with Mary Vaughan, the geneticist that was called to Sudbury to confirm Ponter's species. Eventually Adikor was able to recreate the portal long enough so that Ponter could return.

Now Ponter is advocating trying to create a permanent portal between the world
Feb 16, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Similar to its preceding book, Humans is a technically smooth novel with a pleasing style. Unlike its preceding book, Hominids, this installment mixes it up a bit. The running plot is framed by Ponter's session with a personality sculpture (what we would call a shrink in our universe)

At first the story focuses primarily on Ponter Bonditt and Tukana Pratt, who are Neanderthals from Earth from a parallel universe visiting Earth from the universe we know. With the portal between the Neanderthal wor
Mukta Mohapatra
Aug 04, 2015 Mukta Mohapatra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now that the Neanderthal world has figured out way to keep the passages between their world and ours open, humans from both worlds are traveling back and forth to learn from each other. Scientists, doctors and artists are comparing work. The Neanderthal government is cautious and wants to close the tunnel off, but the people of their world are determined to keep it open.

This story is told to us as Ponter talks to a therapist. He is having a hard time dealing with a crime he committed on our Eart
I found Humans a better read in almost every respect than its predecessor. A more subtle and natural style, yet more action-packed, and also containing even more speculative ideas than the first one.

Perhaps, also, I had to some extent become used to Sawyers' far-fetched ideas and scenarios by now. Well, it is specualtive fiction, after all...
Jul 31, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good continuation to the story. This 2nd installment is more focused in addressing comparisons between the two worlds. It also further explores the deepening relationship between Mary and Ponter. At one point Sawyer gets quite descriptive in how hot and steamy the relationship becomes. There is also a parallel story between Ponter and his personality sculpture, which piqued my interest in wanting to keep reading to find out the reason for the consultation. As with the first book, the paperback ...more
Jul 20, 2014 Renny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The world building was great. I enjoyed the various preconceptions of designs which were challenged in the Neanderthal world such as pushing buttons or rounded edges on cars. While I didn't find the book to be preachy - I found myself at many places wanted to argue the opposing point of view. I felt Mary's arguments were often very weak and missed out on the complexity. So the novel is a bit lacking for me as a social and political commentary. A concept for a novel but doesn't completely fulfill ...more
Stacey Miller
Mar 22, 2015 Stacey Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unlike the 1st book in the series this one is a little more character based and romance based. It does get interesting and a bit dark. Humans brings up some intriguing ethical quandaries. The philosophical debates are reminiscent of Sharon Welch's ideologies mixed in with some sharp commentary on humanities behavior. The new characters introduced bring up good contrasts of traits and opinions which is what I think Sawyer is great for. The 3rd book is a must read because this one ends a bit of a ...more
John Parungao
Jun 02, 2015 John Parungao rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the second book of the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, it's an interesting read as we get to know Mary Vaughan better and see her continuing recovery from the assault in the first book. We also see the growing bond between her and Ponter Boddit. We also get to see the development of relations between our world and the parallel Neanderthal world.

It's also interesting to note that as part of this developing exchange between two worlds Mary accepts a job with the Synergy Group, a think tank based
Matthew Hunter
A Hugo Award winner? Really? Unless Sawyer brings a more critical lens to Neanderthal culture in the final installment of the trilogy, his loving treatment of the big lugs seems to suggest he prefers: a Big Brother, zero privacy state; eugenic approaches to taking bad stuff out of the genetic pool; castration as a punishment for sex crimes; and other charming ideas. In short, us bad; Neanderthals good. Us clumsy, rough sex partners; Neanderthals gentle, mindful lovers. (Spare me the "picturesque ...more
Humans (Neanderthal Parallax #2)
by Robert J. Sawyer

Humans, the second books in the Neanderthal Parallax series is a disappointment compared to the first book (which I gave three stars).

(view spoiler)
I like the book because it's a cool concept. Portal opens between Neanderthal world and homo sapiens world and interesting things happen. However there are a few things that really bug me about the book.

First of all, the humans never really criticize the Neanderthal world. They only say that it's "different." Sure, we have crime and pollution and overpopulation and all sorts of unpleasantness. Ponter is completely right to criticize those things, but Mary Vaughn never seems to say, "Gee, you li
Feb 07, 2011 Alaina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2012 Mei-Lu rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Humans is the second book in Robert J. Sawyer's trilogy, the Neanderthal Parallax. The trilogy is about what happens when a portal opens between two parallel universes - one the one we live in, the other one in which the Neanderthals (rather than homo sapiens) survived to become the dominant species. In the first book, Hominids, we spent most of our time with the Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, who had become accidentally transported into our universe. In Humans, the Neanderthals and the h ...more
Bill Purdy
Apr 01, 2008 Bill Purdy rated it liked it  ·  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
Aug 19, 2012 Fred rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Not as good as the first one but still worth reading. I'm actually about a third of the way through the book following this one now and I can state with certainty that it does get better.

The ultimate moral quandary in this particular book and one of the major ones in the series revolves around the sterilization of criminals and those with genetic diseases and disorders. Arguments are presented both for and against and the reader is more or less left to decide which side they personally come down
Mandy Moody
Sep 25, 2008 Mandy Moody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Humans is a typical sequel in the fact that it's not nearly as good as it's predecessor. Although I would have given it 3.5 stars, if halfs were allowed.
Humans picks up where Hominids left off with very little time having passed between books. Ponter is working with a personality sculptor (or a therapist) and speaking of a crime he committed while in our world. Most chapters begin with their conversation, and the story follows as a flash-back. The style was a bit disconcerting as I prefer to rea
D.L. Morrese
Humans, the second novel in Robert J. Sawyer’s The Neanderthal Parallax series is more romance than science fiction complete with the mandatory steamy sex scene. Unfortunately the female lead in this romance story, Mary (Homo sapiens), provokes little interest. I personally found nothing especially admirable about her and actually found her somewhat annoying. The male lead, Ponter (Homo neanderthalensis), is more interesting, but even he seems to fluctuate from being scientifically objective, as ...more
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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)
  • Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1)
  • Hybrids (Neanderthal Parallax, #3)

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