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5.0 out of 5 stars SENSATIONAL Differences - Humans and Neanderthals
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...
Published on Jan. 10 2012 by fastreader

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unable to stand on its own
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...
Published on Nov. 16 2003 by J. Hazelip


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unable to stand on its own, Nov. 16 2003
By 
J. Hazelip (Tallahassee, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Humans (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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5.0 out of 5 stars SENSATIONAL Differences - Humans and Neanderthals, Jan. 10 2012
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fastreader - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Humans (Paperback)
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.

From the first books we have learned that in the Neanderthal world:

1) The population has been limited to 185 million
2) All the men live on the outskirts of town and all the women live in the middle
3) The women live with their woman mate and children
4) The men live with their man mate
5) Every 25 days the men go into town and visit their woman mate for 4 days
6) Conception is limited to once every 10 years thus aiding the ZPG
7) Regressive genes (violence, disease etc )have been bred out of the population
8) While they have helicopters they don't have airplanes
9) They don't use fossil fuels but rather solar power
10) They have a strong opinion about religions, because they don't have any
11) They have an implanted electronic companion that records everything they do so crime and violence is rare

This is a great start to a story arc ran through 3 volumes with each one standing on it's own although it is more entertaining to read all three in order.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bridging the divide, March 28 2003
By 
Friederike Knabe "Books are funny little port... (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Humans (Hardcover)
With HUMANS, the second volume in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, Sawyer is drawing the reader deep into the parallel worlds of Mary Vaughan and Ponter Bobbit. Most people who delve into the story will have read HOMINIDS and understand the basic philosophical and scientific concepts presented. Those who have not would be well advised to pick up the first volume before getting too deeply into this one. Otherwise they may miss out on depth and complexity of what is presented.
HUMANS is a very entertaining read, fast paced and engaging. There are also very funny moments. The two key representatives, Mary, from "our" Earth and Ponter, from the Neanderthals' universe, continue to explore their respective realities in a multitude of ways. Ponter 'returns' to Canada and Mary has the opportunity to explore the 'other side'. Their continuing dialogue and interaction form the centrepiece of the novel. Subjects range from such topical scientific questions as the impact of the possible collapse the Earth's magnetic field to the exploration of societal structures and human relationships. Above all, discussions return regularly to Mary's religious side of life. Ponter, having reflected on faith as a conundrum for a Neanderthal scientist ever since he left this earth, becomes more deeply drawn to the question of spirituality and morality on his return visit.
Sawyer introduces new players to complement the set of characters well know from HOMINIDS. In particular, the Neanderthal women round off the depiction of life in their world. The global leadership in the Neanderthal's universe, the High Gray Council, deliberates at length whether to reopen the portal to the "Gliksin" world. The opportunities of this new kind of globalization are too tempting to miss. Tentative exploration of cultural, commerce and scientific exchange, however, does not turn out as easy as the proponents might have liked and even anticipated. But then, there is the last volume in the trilogy to clear up and explain all the "ox-uh-mor-ons" encountered. [Friederike Knabe, Ottawa Canada]
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ham-handed social diatribe instead of hard SF novels, May 26 2004
By 
L. Masco (Austin, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Humans (Mass Market Paperback)
Just read this trilogy in the last few days. Gotta say, I'm disappointed.
The premise is somewhat interesting - a Neanderthal physicist is experimenting with quantum computers and accidentally opens a portal between his earth where Neanderthals rules to the possible earth where homo sapiens dominate the planet (our world) (Sawyer never did answer my geek question - did the large possibly prime number he was trying to factor uniquely address our world, or was it due to other factors?).
The Neanderthal comes over to our world, and wackiness ensues. We actually see quite a bit less wackiness than I would expect to see, and this is another place where the books fail as "hard" science fiction - the reactions of the human institutions don't seem plausible, there's far too little security and oversight in what goes on with the "alien" visitors and the gateway.
The thousand+ page trilogy would have made a far better short story or novella, there just aren't that many ideas in the whole thing and the writing is not particularly engaging.
As "hard" science fiction, there are basically two strong somewhat novel ideas in the books. One is the quantum computer gateway, the other is that religion is an artifact of the interaction of the homo sapien parietal lobe with magnetic fields. The first is kinda interesting, the second is just loopy. He handwaves away the environments where humans do interact with strong varying magnetic fields and then he introduces a surge in the Earth's magnetic field (on New Year's eve when our characters are in Times Square, of course) and everybody on the planet has a religious experience. Whee.
The other aspect of the book is more "social" science fiction. Using the alien as a contrast to explore human society is as old as science fiction is. Such explorations, when coming from the deft hands as one such as C J Cherryh, can be both intriguing and entertaining. If the alien is 3-dimension and has both strengths and weakness that are used to contrast with humanity's strengths and weaknesses
In the hands of someone less adept, this can become a cliche where the author merely catalogs the failings of humanity and simplifies the issues to blame one or two factors.
Unfortunately, Sawyer does the second. Humans, especially male humans, *especially* especially white male humans, **especially** *especially* especially white American male humans (except when castrated), are bad. Oh yes, and where testosterone isn't to blame, religion is - but that's just a mutated part of the parietal lobe acting out.
Neanderthals are good - and where there's bad in Neanderthals, it's because testerone was involved and the Neanderthal's eugenics program was only nearly perfect instead of completely perfect.
There's a hint of a grudging nod given to homo sapiens' accomplishments, but it's lackluster and is only a few words out of a thousand+ pages. It feels like an editor said, "show some balance" and Sawyer tacked it on.
Sawyer doesn't even bother to do more than handwave how homo sapiens disappeared in the Neanderthal's world, but spends a lot of time on homo sapiens' genocides.
Anyway, I was disappointed. The books were vaguely entertaining but the ham-handed "social" aspects were far too simple-minded and comprised too many pages to be anything other than tedious and annoying. I've enjoy others of Sawyers' books, but I'm going to be wary of him now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portal for philosophy?, March 26 2003
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Humans (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." Little of Ponter's science is discussed, but his personality is drawn as cool, rational almost to an extreme. A major scene in this novel, and its most inconsistent one, is Mary and Ponter's visit to Washington, DC. For reasons wholly inexplicable in a Canadian who wished to keep Toronto's CN Tower in view from Rochester, NY, she drags him to the Viet Nam Memorial, engaging him in another sermon about "faith." This time, unlike in Hominids, where he resolutely rejected her ideas, he waffles. Volume three, Hybrids, is almost certain to have him converted. After all, against all logic, he claims to be in love with her. What is motivating Sawyer in these efforts remains a mystery. Perhaps it's time for him to produce a non-fiction statement of his philosophy.
Even with the "faith" shortcoming and some severe bending of anthropology and cosmology, this book remains an excellent read. Sawyer's writing is masterful and his use of real science, no matter how contentious the topics, must be applauded. If he "takes sides" why should we condemn his choices? The final volume will be welcome and the entire trilogy a valuable asset as an exhibit of his skills and the readers' taste. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Novel Ive ever read, July 22 2004
By 
Adam (Burligton, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Humans (Mass Market Paperback)
Im not much of a reader but I have read this novel and really enjoyed it.
after reading this one i Had to read the other two in the trilogy.. this may be the best of the 3 . but the other two are worth reading.
cant wait for more books from Sawyer
I hightly recommend it
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4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy sequel, July 17 2004
By 
Grant McKee (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Humans (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, July 12 2004
By 
Melissa McCauley (North Little Rock, AR) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Humans (Mass Market Paperback)
HUMANS is a solid sequel to HOMINIDS and picks up where the first book left off. I was surprised to read such a well-developed and heart-felt love story written by a man. This novel delves more deeply into the Neanderthal universe when Mary goes to the "other side" for a visit. The author, through a preachy Native American scientist, raises more fascinating points about our societal structure that I will be pondering for quite some time. Being too young to remember Vietnam, I was especially fascinated (and amused) by Mary's attempt to explain it to Ponter. Can't wait to read Hybrids, the conclusion to the trilogy.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not so much a Story as a Speech, July 5 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Humans (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. They catch Mary's rapist by something out of left field. Stand by for the sequel.
The characters' main function is to set up forums for the author to pontificate. I don't particularly care whether I agree with the author or not, but I expect something to go on. If the author works his or her beliefs into the story, so much the better. Here, though, the wise Neanderthals and Mary Vaughn just preach. What little attempt to explain how humanity got where it is mostly serves to put up straw men to be demolished or to pitch softballs to be knocked out of the park. For example, the only reaosn Mary Vaughn can come up with for private transport or ownership of automobiles is an anemic, "We like to own things", which even she feels is weak.
Preach all you want, but for gosh sake have a Story!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction at it's best, April 11 2004
By 
Jason S Robinson (Ft. Worth) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Humans (Mass Market Paperback)
Robert Sawyer is a great science fiction author and this series is one of his best yet. In this book he coninues right where he left off in Homonids. Boddit, Mary, and the rest of the characters return. We also see more of Boddit's world and Boddit unfortunatley sees more of ours. When compared to a world with no chaos, war, and senseless pollution, our world is rather embarressing. I also liked the religious questions raised and thought they were very thought provoking. There were only one or two things that weren't top notch but not diminish my overall enjoyment with this series.
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Humans
Humans by Robert J. Sawyer (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 15 2003)
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