5.0 out of 5 stars SHOCKING conclusion to Neanderthal / Earthling series
This is the third book in The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. The other two being Hominids (book 1) and Humans (book 2).
In this book we find Dr Mary Vaughan (human geneticist) and Ponter Boddit (Neanderthal physicist) continuing their relationship that developed when they first met. Mary has gone over to the parallel Neanderthal world to learn more about their...
Published 23 months ago by fastreader
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic let down...
The Idea of Neanderthals crossing the dimentional divide via a Quantum singularity, who couldn't be intrigued by such a notion?
Unfrotunately for the reader it appears the author was one such person, where the book could have illuminated and inspiered it merely plodded along...The main character Mary Is simpering and paranoid in the extreme. The main lesson to...
Published on Nov. 5 2003 by L. Cowhig
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5.0 out of 5 stars SHOCKING conclusion to Neanderthal / Earthling series,
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This review is from: Hybrids (Mass Market Paperback)This is the third book in The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. The other two being Hominids (book 1) and Humans (book 2).
In this book we find Dr Mary Vaughan (human geneticist) and Ponter Boddit (Neanderthal physicist) continuing their relationship that developed when they first met. Mary has gone over to the parallel Neanderthal world to learn more about their culture.
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
Mary and Ponter want to have a child however their chromosomes are different so it would not be possible. They meet a disgraced Neanderthal geneticist who may have solved that problem and smuggle out her equipment that has banned to be used.
However her boss, Jock, who works for the military designs an airborne virus that will only kill Neanderthals and leave their idealic world available to the humans.
The race is then on with Ponter and Mary trying to stop Jock. There are other minor story arcs that add variety to the book and it is highly entertaining
While this book is the third in a trilogy it stands alone as a great read. The background from the other two books, at least the highlights, is included in flashbacks to flush out the story arc.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midwest Book Review,
This time around, distinguished Neanderthal scientists have crossed from their universe into ours via the portal created and maintained with Neanderthal technology. Their scientific skills far surpass those of humans, and yet the world in which they live remains pristine. Primeval forests thrive; water and air are pure and sweet; the oceans abound with life and no animals have gone extinct from over-hunting. Their work with DNA rivals anything humans have discovered. The trusting Neanderthals believe the more information exchanged between worlds, the better, but their human counterparts are not so idealistic. Human conditions are overcrowded, the environment fouled by fossil fuels and littered with garbage. One powerful man sees the Neanderthal world as the new Eden and devises a horrifying plan to claim that rich wilderness for humans.
Humans and Neanderthals socially, emotionally, and philosophically gain greater understanding of each other in Hybrids.. Still, there are many problems. Humans cannot grasp the concept of a world without satellites, war, gps systems, cell phones, highways and airplanes. Neanderthals cannot understand a species that would pollute the world they live in and greedily deplete all resources. Meanwhile, Ponter and Mary plan to officially bond and have a child together. Theirs will be the first hybrid offspring between Neanderthal and homo sapiens, if they can utilize technology that has been banned in Ponter's world.
Hybrids is ethically and technologically intriguing.. The characters are fully developed and unique, whether they be good or evil. Dangers threatening both worlds are realistic and mirror a multitude of problems present in our lives today. Although Hybrids is the third and final book in Sawyer's Neanderthal series, the story could stand alone. I do encourage you, however, to read this excellent and well written series in order. As writer and story teller, Sawyer is deserving of every award he's won so far.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic let down...,
Unfrotunately for the reader it appears the author was one such person, where the book could have illuminated and inspiered it merely plodded along...The main character Mary Is simpering and paranoid in the extreme. The main lesson to gleaned according to the author from our connection with another universe? well rather perversly it is that Man, to be more accurate white Men, are all Evil, Bar one or two exceptions who are not actually in this book; the reason for our extraordinary Evil and general vileness, why of course, Testosterone and the Y chromosome!!! Talk about sweeping, inacurate, ignorant and offensive statements. There are numerous such pages where men (always white men) are recounted for their general lack of humanity. It gets quite boring after a while.Swayer shows a lack of genetic anthropological and historical adeptness in his writing only rivaled by his poor characterisation and plot lines. Avoid this book it will only let you down. A pity as ponter could have been very very cool.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really Bad,
By A Customer
Hybrids is chiefly a treatise on the wonders of Canadian socialism, and a blunt object to beat on Americans, Christians, and white males. This constant antagonism squelches what little interest there is in Sawyer's overly clever plot, and makes his characters difficult, if not impossible to connect with.
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than Humans, but that's not saying much,
While this book was better than Humans, with a little more focus outside of their relationship, it still is way too heavily skewed towards that storyline. While that mediocre story plays out in detail in each chapter, a much more intresting story goes almost undeveloped in little snippets at the beginning of each chapter. I also found myself wondering how the Neanderthal technology would have managed to progress like it had without a population anywhere near that of the Gliksins. It seems that with the limited population and without so much war to drive technology, they would have moved much slower.
I will continue to look for more from Sawyer in the future, but nothing else from this series. I think Sawyer could have done a much better job with this story, but he just went down the wrong path. If you read the other two books in the series, you will want to read this one as well, but don't expect anything great.
5.0 out of 5 stars The literature of ideas is alive and well,
5.0 out of 5 stars But will it work?,
With great skill and immense empathy for this alternative to the homo sapiens' world Sawyer builds a far-reaching vision of Neanderthal society covering all aspects of its environment, its people and their accomplishments. Exploring the scientific innovations of "Barast" culture provides him a platform for discussing the latest thinking in genetics, consciousness studies, brain research, and physics. His comprehensive knowledge and enthusiasm for scientific subjects shine through all levels of the narrative without becoming heavy or too demanding for the reader. At one level, the Neanderthal version of the universe is presented as a mirror of what could have been in our world. Take the environment: the dialogue between Ponter and Jock, Mary's boss, during a copter flight over New York beautifully illustrates the differences between the two versions of earth as it leaves a deep impression on Jock: Manhattan IS the "Island of Hills" - devoid of skyscrapers, people and traffic. It makes him wish that we "could start all over again with a clean slate".
As Mary spends more time in Ponter's world she learns to accept the differences, up to a point. Many aspects of Barast society are so markedly different that it is not be easy to adapt. For one, our concept of individual freedoms does not mean much here. For example, while the ubiquitous communication system allows instant contact between people, it is monitoring all movements and discussions for the archival record. As one result crime is almost non-existent. Men and women live pretty much separate lives, each with a same-sex mate and their monthly four-day heterosexual coming together - 'Two become One', is treated like a holiday. Children are born according to a predefined generational schedule, allowing the society to maintain population levels stable. Besides the timing, the lovers' wish to conceive a child appears impossible due to the difference in their chromosomes. Sawyer just loves to explain complex genetics in layperson's terms! But DNA research has advanced, mainly in Ponter's world, and new possibilities emerge. The technology is also open to abuse and causes ethical dilemmas. There are more complexities to delve into concerning genetics, above all the potential existence of a specific set of genes, a "God organ". The question of religion has been a major theme throughout the trilogy and here it ends in a dramatic climax.
Sawyer's fluent style and clear, lively narrative make this one of best reads around. At the same time, you learn about some fascinating new research and scientific discoveries and can ponder some important questions about the society we live in. If you have not read the first two volumes of the Neanderthal Parallax, don't feel discouraged. The indispensable background to understand the story is sprinkled throughout this volume. Still, reading it from the beginning leaves you better prepared to savour its different layers. [Friederike Knabe]
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, moving, joyous,
Like the Hugo Award winning HOMINIDS and the equally deserving HUMANS before it, HYBRIDS is a story of big ideas and all-too-human and fallible characters. If you're used to sci-fi about gleaming heroes ... the kind of stuff Baen publishes ... you may indeed find the complex, error-prone, conflicted people populating this book unfamiliar ... except when you take your nose out of a book and look around at REAL HUMAN BEINGS, which is what Sawyer excels at writing about.
The plot here involves multiple levels of hybridization: cultural and personal. There's a quest for the best of both worlds, a mid-ground between the harshness of the Neanderthal system (yes, harshness -- I'm astonished that so many people seem to gloss over the flaws that Sawyer so clearly paints in the Neanderthal system) and our own. And there's a quest for Ponter and Mary to have a child, despite their differing chromosome counts. And, for those who (wrongly) think Sawyer has been unfair to Americans, the president of the US, who delivers a long speech broken up into small sections at the beginnings of each chapter, comes off as thoughtful, humane, and visionary -- just the sort of person we often indeed have had in the White House.
Sawyer has written a thriller combined with a love story combined with a philosophical speculation of the first water. This whole series is excellent, but this final volume is the best of the three, mostly because of the surprising twists and turns and the way Sawyer draws everything together in ways that aren't at all obvious. Read it; you won't be disappointed.
5.0 out of 5 stars Requires rust-proofing,
The genetic obstacle to this breeding exercise gives Sawyer the opportunity to display his research abilities. How he resolves it is testimony to his writing skills. Humans, he tells us, are unique in possessing 23 chromosomes. Other primates, probably including the extinct Neanderthals, have 24. Merging genes from two such creatures is unlikely to produce viable offspring. Sawyer however, has no intention of boring you with clinical issues when there are bigger questions to address. Neanderthals are not only genetically distinct, their social structure differs in ways that would give a sociologist nightmares. Males and females live apart except for a brief period each month - Two Becoming One. Living apart means that each gender "bonds" with another of its kind for most of the month. Intrusions on this rigid social ideal aren't welcome, and Mary's insistence that couples "live together all the time" violates Neanderthal social mores. Tensions build as human and Neanderthals interact.
The question of "faith" builds as the central issue in this series. Sawyer has flirted with it before, but never better than here. His handling of the question is at once novel, entertaining and based on sound research. Not only are Neanderthal and human chromosomes unalike, that condition reflects differences in brain structure. Sawyer extends the findings of Canadian scientist Michael Persinger in coping with this question. What gives humans a "religious sense"? Is it really derived from the supernatural, or does some mechanism bring about faith - an "illness" subject to cure? Ironies abound in this story, but none more potent than those Sawyer raises over this question. What do we believe? Why do we believe it? How do we deal with the concept of gods? There is no "rust-proofing" to cover the issue - Sawyer confronts you with it forcefully. You must see through the ironies and address reality.
Can you read this book without having read the previous two in the trilogy? Easily, if you can accept the notion of alternative universes joined by a quantum gateway. Sawyer deals well with the advance in human cognition that supposedly occurred forty thousand years ago. There are many ramifications branching off from this event and Sawyer handles them skilfully. Sawyer doesn't write simply to entertain. He writes to challenge your thinking, make you ponder the validity of your beliefs and raise questions about how we view the world around us. Read him and ask yourselves the questions. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
4.0 out of 5 stars Economic Problems Not resolved in Hybrids,
The Neanderthal society of the trilogy is idealized. If in this universe Sapiens (Gliskins) dominate the planet and Neanderthal disapeared. On the Earth as we know it no society has succeeded in produced a technical civilization without agriculture. All that we know from this planet indicates that hunter-gatherer Ns would be living sparsely as small bands in the stone age. But the N's of Sawyer's implausible fictional universe surpass us technically in their spare time out from clobbering Mammoths. On our planet a billion rich people are needed to provide the support for our research and development but a few million Ns surpass us in most technologies. Did Sawyer read Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel or just list it in is list of references? Thanks for the reference Mr. Sawyer I loved diamond's book.
In Hybrids Sawyer is explicit about the small size of N population. What does such a sparse population need with a 5000 foot deep nickle mine? Grant them the technology they could find Earth's best nickel mine and dig down a few feet but what would a few blonde beasts do with as much nickel as our six billion person planet?
In the Neanderthal universe Ns dominate the planet and Sapiens disappeared. But the Ns of the trilogy are virtually without fault except that they sterilize the relatives of criminals- showing a non-PC. That they are innocent of Gliskin (Sapien) blood is proclaimed over and over no evidence is cited while the guilt of Sapiens for the disappearance of Ns is assumed. It isnt implausable but so far there is no evidence that Sapiens killed off the Ns on this planet
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Hybrids by Robert J. Sawyer (Mass Market Paperback - Nov. 1 2004)
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