- Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; Reprint edition (Nov. 1 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 076534906X
- ISBN-13: 978-0765349064
- Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 2.8 x 2.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #46,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Hybrids Mass Market Paperback – Oct 28 2004
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About the Author
Robert J. Sawyer is the author of the Neanderthal Parallax series, including the Hugo Award-winning Hominids, and Humans. He won the Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment and the Aurora Award for FlashForward, basis for the ABC TV series. He is also the author of the WWW series―Wake, Watch and Wonder―and many other books. He was born in Ottawa and lives in Toronto.
Top customer reviews
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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.
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]
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The premise is somewhat interesting - a Neanderthal physicist is experimenting with quantum...Read more