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Humans Mass Market Paperback – Sep 15 2003

4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (Sept. 15 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765346753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765346759
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.6 x 17.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #163,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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

Top Customer Reviews

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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This is the second book in The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. The other two being Hominids (book 1) and Hybrid (book 3).

In this book Ponter Bonditt ( Neanderthal physicist) and Mary Vaughan (human geneticist) continue to develop their relation ship .

A permanent portal is created between their two worlds and both cultures travel to the other side to see if the grass really is greener on the other side.

Mary grapples with the confusing Neanderthal relationships while also trying to deal with her rape.

Most of the book is devoted to exploring the differences between the two cultures and Robery . Sawyer is very good at painting clear and viable differences that really make you think. This just adds to your reading pleasure.

Further investigation reveals that his world is in fact also Earth however one where Homo Sapiens died off and Neanderthal became the dominant human species. In some ways their life style is backwards to humans and in others it is more advanced and enlightened.
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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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A few thin-skinned, unthinking types below have accused Sawyer of anti-Americanism ... which can only be true if anti-Americanism means any comment that is less than 100% favorable to every single action the United States has ever taken. If so, Sawyer is also anti-Canadian; there are plenty of digs here (as well as in his CALCULATING GOD) at the actions of the government of that country ... the one he happens to live in.
Also, there are those who are so self-righteous that they are convinced they know where something is going without having bothered to read through to the end. One fellow -- Mr. Walters -- below says Sawyer is pro-affirmative action. First, there's nothing on this topic of any substance in this book, HUMANS, and second, in HYBRIDS, the concluding volume of the trilogy, Sawyer shows how a white man's career aspirations were destroyed by affirmative action, quoting directly the actual hiring policy of a major university. Sawyer looks with a balanced, skeptical eye at issues.
But certain keywords set off certain canned screeds from some people; they'd rather react, thinking they've heard it all before, than be exposed to new ideas ... which is their loss, because Sawyer's stock-in-trade IS ideas. In HUMANS, he looks at religion, agriculture, privacy, and more. And he does it in a balance way. Mr. Walters again argues that Sawyer is painting a rosy picture of a society without privacy and with genetic purging of the gene pool, but the whole Neanderthal-world subplot of HOMINIDS (which won a well-deserved Hugo) is about rampant injustice that happens because of such a system; another example of enormous catch-22 unfairness occurs in HYBRIDS. Mr. Walters and others confuse discussing with proposing, and, again, it's their loss.
As a novel, HUMANS packs a punch.
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