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Humans Paperback – Jul 6 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1 Reprint edition (July 6 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765326337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765326331
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.8 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #673,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

For the most part, Ponter Boddit is happy to be back in his own world of Neanderthals. He has reunited with friends and family, and returned to his life as a physicist. Yet he can't help but feel that unfinished business remains from his trip to the parallel world inhabited by the strange, possibly dangerous people who call themselves Homo sapiens. And he would like to see Mary Vaughan again.

Humans, the second volume in Robert J. Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, tells the story of Ponter's second trip to our world and the opening of the portal between worlds to a few other travellers. It is for the most part a quiet story of the deepening relationship between Ponter and Mary, as Ponter continues his investigation of the human world and develops a growing interest in the preoccupation of its residents with religion. Meanwhile, intercut scenes of Ponter in therapy in his homeworld contribute to a growing tension in the story, as the reason for Ponter's feelings of guilt is slowly revealed. At the same time, scientists are beginning to notice that something odd is happening with the magnetic fields of both Earths.

Although it's the middle volume of a trilogy, which began with Hominids, the main story in Humans stands alone. Sawyer's enjoyable prose is sprinkled with sly comments on the mutual foibles of Canadians and Americans, and Ponter in particular is given several good lines. Set firmly in our present, Humans relies on hard science for its set-up, but the heart of the novel is Mary and Ponter's acceptance of their love for each other. It's a hard-science-fiction romance, and Sawyer tells this story of love across boundaries very well. --Greg L. Johnson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this solid sequel to Hominids (2002), the much-praised first volume in Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, which introduced an alternate Earth where for reasons unknown our species, Homo sapiens, went extinct and Neanderthals flourished, Neanderthal physicist Ponder Boddit brings Canadian geneticist Mary Vaughan back to his world to explore the near-utopian civilization of the Neanderthals. Boddit serves as a Candide figure, the naive visitor whose ignorance about our society makes him a perfect tool to analyze human tendencies toward violence, over-population and environmental degradation. The Neanderthals have developed a high artistic, ethical and scientific culture without ever inventing farming-they're still hunters and gatherers-and this allows the author to make some interesting and generally unrecognized points about the downside of the discovery of agriculture. Much of the novel is devoted to either the discussion of ideas such as these or to Boddit and Vaughan's developing love affair. Sawyer keeps things moving by throwing in an attempted assassination, his protagonists' confrontation with a rapist and, on a larger scale, the growing danger of what appears to be the imminent reversal of Earth's magnetic field. As the middle volume in a trilogy, this book doesn't entirely stand on its own, but it is extremely well done. When complete, the Neanderthal Parallax should add significantly to Sawyer's reputation.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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It was Mary Vaughan's final evening in Sudbury, and she was experiencing decidedly mixed feelings. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 26 2003
Format: Hardcover
Sawyer's "poetic licence" must run many pages, imposing few constraints. Travel permits are included. He takes us across many borders - between nations, between universes, between species, and over into gender relations. We tour around many fields - geophysics, genetics, cosmology, and, of course, paleoanthropology. If any writer can keep the science in "sci-fi," it's Sawyer. It's a fascinating journey, undertaken at a headlong pace. Through it all, we follow the complex lives of human Mary Vaughan and Neanderthal Ponter Boddit. If all this seems heady stuff, fear not. Sawyer's skillful prose and vivid portrayals will keep you reading steadily. It's all realistic, if not real.
Writing a trilogy has inherent dangers. A second volume must stand alone, which this one does. The characters must build and not slip into static postures. Sawyer accomplishes this by the simple expedient of increasing the interaction of the two protagonists. The plot must move in new directions. This is also achieved, not least by Ponter's return to this "Earth" and Mary's journey to the Neanderthal universe. In their respective universes, Mary and Ponter encounter new people, achieve new levels of interaction and struggle to resolve contentious issues. This last, of course, is but partially successful. This is, after all, a trilogy.
Most readers of this book will have read Hominids, and will go on to finish the trilogy. Readers must be warned, however, Sawyer has a poorly hidden agenda. As in many of his other works, Sawyer seems intent on bringing us to his god. An astonishing amount of time is spent in both volumes on discussions of faith and, that old bugaboo, the "afterlife.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Hazelip on Nov. 16 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Any book should be able to stand on its own. This book fails horribly in that regard.
What happened to the shooter? Why isn't Ponter accosted wherever he goes as a result of Tukalla's (I hope I got that right) response to the shooting? What happened to the High Gray Council's objections to free travel between the Earths? What's the deal with the game theorist and the magnetic shift?
This book just has too many unresolved plot threads for it to be considered good. As a matter of fact, it's pretty bad as a result.
It's less a book of it's own, and more of a stopping point between the two other books. The rape from the first book is (sort of) resolved in the second book, so I'm sure Sawyer considers this to just be part of moving the story along. But, he'd be wrong. This book isn't an entity unto itself. It's got elements of the first book in it, and hints about things to come in the second.
Bah. I was really happy with the first book, and I think that just makes my disappointment more pronounced. I hope the third book is fantastic, but I'm going to the library to get a copy to read instead of purchase. The quality of the second book just does not inspire me to toss almost ten bucks at a paperback edition (when it comes out), when the third may leave just as unappealing a taste in my mouth...
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By Grant McKee on July 17 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While "Hominids" introduced us to the characters and the background of the neanderthal and human worlds, "Humans" is stuck with the task of furthering the story. As such, it isn't as groundbreaking and fascinating as its prequel, but an entertaining read nonetheless. However, I must say that the story and writing style are slightly improved here, creating a mystery story with a science fiction background. What's most interesting about this novel is the way the humans interact as they begin to explore the neanderthal world, and vice versa. Of course, Sawyer continues with the real theme of the story; that is, is it better to live in a world where bad things happen, but most people have faith that a good afterlife awaits them, or to live in a peaceful world, but have no hope for anything afterward, and a big brother-type of security?
Overall, this is definitely a recommended read. I enjoyed "Hominids" very much, and "Humans" held up well on its own. I'm looking forward to reading "Hybrids" to complete the story.
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By A Customer on July 5 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I greatly enjoyed the first book of this series, Hominds. Yes, the author injected his own philosophies in it, but as long as it doesn't get in the way of the story, what's wrong with that? Naturally, I looked forward to this sequel.
Let's see if I can summarize the plot: Men (H. Sapiens) are mostly bad. New York is bad. Private ownership of cars is bad. America is mostly bad. The Entire reason for the Vietnam War was because the US didn't want free elections in South Vietnam. Private ownership of firearms is bad. The reason North American Indians succumbed to Europeans is primarily due to the fact that they didn't have the lucky break of having easily mined minerals (disregard that the Celts found it practical to mine in North Amercia and ship it all the way back across the Atlantic in times B.C.). Canada is basically good, but there are a lot of men in it, which keeps it from being really good. The UN could be good if there weren't so many white men in it. Humanity delights in raping the environment. If only the Government had a way to record everything everyone does things would be just fine.
Oh yeah--there is a little bit in there about the Neanderthals (who are always good) from the other Earth recontacting this one, but that's incidental to the sermons.
That's my main objection to this entry. Nothing really happens. Without the sermons the novel can be summed up as: The Neaderthals reopen the Portal. Ponter comes back. He's hot for Mary. She's hot for him. There's a not particularly interesting six page sex scene. He gets shot for no reason. This Earth is bad. They go back to his great world where everything is more logical and benign than here, but you have to trust us on this because virtually nothing happens there, either.
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