Hominids Mass Market Paperback – Feb 17 2003
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Robert J. Sawyer's Hominids introduces a new world, a parallel historical universe in which Neanderthals, not Homo sapiens, survived to explore the world and build a civilization. It also tells the story of a man from his own world and the people who try to understand and help him. Ponter Boddit is a Neanderthal physicist working on quantum computing. While running an experiment, he suddenly disappears from his own universe, leaving a puddle of heavy water behind him. Just as suddenly, he appears in our universe, in a container of heavy water at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. Trying to understand how a Neanderthal arrived in the laboratory, and how to introduce him to human culture, poses a major problem for Louise Benoit, a physics student, and Mary Vaughan, a geneticist with expertise on Neanderthal DNA.
A parallel story of the Neanderthal world follows Adikor Huld and his attempt to explain why he should not be charged with murder in the disappearance of his partner Ponter. The book nicely contrasts Neanderthal society with our own: Ponter's descriptions of a society where violence is almost unknown and pollution non-existent paint an idyllic picture of his home universe. But Adikor's experiences show a more balanced view: Neanderthals sin, too. The first volume in Sawyer's new Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, Hominids is a self-contained story that combines fully drawn characters in both worlds with provocative ideas about physics, history, and evolution. --Greg L. Johnson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an intriguing speculative fiction book. The main premise is based on Quantum theory. Parallel to our world are many other worlds. Some very close to ours and some not. In our story, Ponter Boddit, often referred to as Scholar Boddit, is one of our main characters. He is a Quantum Physicist from a parallel world. While working on a Quantum computer, he is translated into the same location in our Universe; unfortunately it is the center of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. Then the true adventure begins.
Ponter is given Canadian Citizenship, which is unusual because he is a Neanderthal. One could argue however, that a Neanderthal emerging from an INCO mine in Sudbury might not be that far out of the question. Many around the world believe it is a hoax - some believe it is true and a Ponter cult begins. Some want to control him and his knowledge.
In our sister earth, they have not ever had a global war, not developed nuclear weapons, or destroyed the environment the way we have. There is much we could learn from our cousins in this world.
Follow Ponter as he develops friendships, experiences religion and learns that we don't have to be homo sapiens sapiens to be human.
In this first volume of a trilogy, physicist Ponter Boddit disappears in mysterious circumstances from a deep mine physics laboratory. Ponter, however, is not of this earth. He is of an "advanced" Neanderthal society in an alternative universe. Homo sapiens has apparently gone extinct in his world, but Ponter emerges in a world where that "extinct" species dominates. Sawyer uses the need for Ponter's adjustment to his novel environment to examine many aspects of our society - its values, beliefs and practices. Communication is enhanced by Ponter's possession of an electronic implant that "learns" words and derives meaning from context. It's a cunning ploy, reflecting a measure of desparation to move Sawyer's other ideas along more readily. He further suggests the Neanderthal's brain capacity could mean greater intelligence, even an enhanced moral sense.
The story itself isn't complex. What happens in Ponter's world to account for his disappearance, and what must he do to adapt to the one he's in? The circumstances surrounding these issues give Sawyer the opportunity to minutely examine and contrast the two societies. People in the world Pondar left prove very "human" in their motives and behaviour. Although their society is drastically different, their emotions and interactions are vividly familiar.Read more ›
While Hominids is a decent read, I don't think it was the best science fiction book published last year. There were several I enjoyed more, that I thought more adventurous and original in theme, and were better written. That said, I enjoyed Hominids, though I enjoyed it more the first time when it was Stranger in a Strange Land.
Ponter Boddit is a Neanderthal physicist who is accidentally transferred to our universe during an experiment in his. While he's stuck on our Earth wondering if he will ever be able to return back to his world, his partner, Adikor Huld, must face charges of murder because of Ponter's disappearance. Thus we have two main threads: Ponter's adventures on our world and his Adikor Huld's trial and attempts to prove his innocence in the other.
(...)I felt as though I were reading a manuscript by someone in a writing workshop at a convention.
Ok Lynn, you didn't like the writing, but what about the book? Glad you asked. The Neanderthals live in a perfect world. No pollution, no crime, at harmony with nature, etc, etc, etc. Basically they embody everything we don't. Which, of course, is the whole point.
Sawyer does raise (re-raise?) some interesting (though not original) questions about individual rights versus society harmony. At what point does an individual's right to be safe take precedence over an individual's right to privacy? Each Neanderthal is implanted with an electronic monitoring device called a Companion.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is the first book in The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. The other two being Humans (book 2) and Hybrid (book 3). Read morePublished on Aug. 31 2011 by fastreader
A bridge is created between our world and an alternate Earth where the Neanderthal has become the dominant species. Read morePublished on April 2 2011 by darcmarc
Im not much of a reader but I have read this novel and really enjoyed it.
after reading Hominids , the fist book in the trilogy. I Had to read this book and then 3rd one. Read more
HOMINIDS exemplifies what I consider to be the best quality of a great science fiction novel. No robots, no space ships, no faster-than-light travel; just a fascinating "What... Read morePublished on July 12 2004 by Melissa McCauley
This was the first book I read by Robert J. Sawyer, but it probably won't be the last (I at least have to finish out "The Neanderthal Parallax"). Read morePublished on July 5 2004 by Grant McKee
To me, Science Fiction books I've read in the past were all about space or the future, or time-travel, or high-tek whachamakalitz. Read morePublished on June 17 2004 by Scott McCabe
During early human history, scientists conjecture that there was a battle waged between by early humans and Neanderthals. Read morePublished on June 16 2004 by Michael A. Newman
I bought this book on impulse when I saw it had won the Hugo award, and while I enjoyed the several hours it took me to read it, I was a bit disappointed that I had bought it and... Read morePublished on June 16 2004 by Clara Arak
Robert J. Sawyer adds a new twist to the idea of having someone come from a different Universe to get a new perspective on ours. Read morePublished on May 6 2004 by Brian P. McDonnell