Robert Sawyer's SF novels are perennial nominees for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, or both. Clearly, he must be doing something right since each one has been something new and different. What they do have in common is imaginative originality, great stories, and unique scientific extrapolation. His latest is no exception.
Hominids is a strong, stand-alone SF novel, but it's 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 bound together by the never-ending quest for knowledge and, beneath their differences, a common humanity. We are one of those species, the other is the Neanderthals of a parallel world where they, not Homo sapiens, became the dominant intelligence. In that world, Neanderthal civilization has reached heights of culture and science comparable to our own, but is very different in history, society, and philosophy.
During a risky experiment deep in a mine in Canada, Ponter Boddit, a Neanderthal physicist, accidentally pierces the barrier between worlds and is transferred to our universe, where in the same mine another experiment is taking place. Hurt, but alive, he is almost immediately recognized as a Neanderthal, but only much later as a scientist. He is captured and studied, alone and bewildered, a stranger in a strange land. But Ponter is also befriended-by a doctor and a physicist who share his questing intelligence and boundless enthusiasm for the world's strangeness, and especially by geneticist Mary Vaughan, a lonely woman with whom he develops a special rapport.
Meanwhile, Ponter's partner, Adikor Huld, finds himself with a messy lab, a missing body, suspicious people all around, and an explosive murder trial that he can't possibly win because he has no idea what actually happened. Talk about a scientific challenge!
Contact between humans and Neanderthals creates a relationship fraught with conflict, philosophical challenge, and threat to the existence of one species or the other-or both-but equally rich in boundless possibilities for cooperation and growth on many levels, from the practical to the esthetic to the scientific to the spiritual. In short, Robert J. Sawyner has done it again.
Hominids is the winner of the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
In this polished anthropological SF yarn, the first of a trilogy from Nebula Award winner Sawyer (The Terminal Experiment), Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth, as both sides discover when a Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleoanthropologist Mary Vaughan, promptly identifies and warmly receives Ponter. Solving the language problem and much else is a mini-computer called a Companion implanted in the brain of every Neanderthal. A computerized guardian spirit, however, doesn't eliminate cross-cultural confusion permanent male-female sexuality, rape and overpopulation are all alien to Ponter nor can it help his housemate and fellow scientist back in his world, Adikor Huld, when the authorities charge Adikor with his murder. Ponter's daughter Jasmel believes in Adikor's innocence, but to prevent a horrendous miscarriage of justice (Adikor could be sterilized), she must try to reopen the portal and bring her father home. The author's usual high intelligence and occasionally daunting erudition are on prominent display, particularly in the depiction of Neanderthal society. Some plot points border on the simplistic, such as Mary's recovering from a rape thanks to Ponter's sensitivity, but these are minor flaws in a novel that appeals to both the intellect and the heart. FYI:The author has won an Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada along with many other national and international awards for his fiction.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Intriguing Perspectives, Plot Themes
Sawyer concocts a fascinating blend of social science & hard science issues through character conversations, thoughtful internal dialogue, and "media releases." Most enjoyable for me: Neanderthal processing of Human religious practices. Great stuff.
I was directed to this author by a Canadian, who has read most of the works by this author, who uses Canada as the setting for numerous books. He is simply brilliant in his story telling, and thought provoking religious twists! SF at its most Brilliant!