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Summary

Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth. A Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleo-anthropologist Mary Vaughan, promptly identifies and warmly receives Ponter. Solving the language problem and much else is a mini-computer, called a Companion, implanted in the brain of every Neanderthal. A computerized guardian spirit, however, doesn't eliminate cross-cultural confusion; permanent male-female sexuality, rape, and overpopulation are all alien to Ponter. Nor can it help his housemate and fellow scientist back in his world, Adikor Huld, when the authorities charge Adikor with his murder.

BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer explains why Ponter Boddit is his favorite among all the characters he's created.

Hunt and gather: listen to more in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy.
©2002 by Robert J. Sawyer (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

  • Hugo Award Winner, Best Novel, 2003

"Sawyer is a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation." (The New York Times)

What listeners say about Hominids

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Really Good

I had no real preconceptions about this title, I'd never heard of the writer and only got it because I have an interest in Neanderthals - but I wasn't disappointed at all! I'm not really interested in science fiction in general, Star Trek and Star Wars leave me cold! But this is really a human interest story, looking at an outsiders view of our humanity, as well as exploring what our lives might be like if our ancestors had made different descisions - for example what would we be like without religion?

I thoroughly reccomend; it is gripping, thrilling and really gets you going and wanting more! I'd want to carry on listening even when I was not driving or down the gym!

The thing that got me was that there was loads of science in it, real detailed information that was accurate and relevant to the story and that thoroughly interested me.

The world Ponter comes from is explained in vivid detail and you want to go there and see it for yourself - however, when Ponter asks Mary, Louise and Reuben about our lack of conservation and how we've destroyed our habitat it really makes you question humanity's motives and mistakes. If you want to feel positve about your species this is probably not the best book - if you want a bit of science fiction and romance this is for you!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

most enjoyable

This book was much more interesting than the title lead me to expect. How the neanderthals structured their society gave me much food for thought.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

I like science - not people. I like ideas too - not fantasies. I especially alternative histories. And this story absolutely gripped me with the brilliant way it asks questions, using science and the excellently conceived alternative world of the Neanderthals. It also explores people and their issues - so you might like it too! Fascinating attack on religion with a few novel ideas to interweave makes this an entertaining yet thought-provoking listen.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

A gem

A tender, moving and exciting tale, an uplifting story. Has the feel of an old fashioned sci fi classic

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    5 out of 5 stars

The characters stay with you

I stumbled across this book (and the whole trilogy) and I entered a world I was reluctant to leave. Robert Sawyers characters are both endearing and irritating...I found Mary particularly annoying and kind at the same time but that I think is the talent of the author the characters have their flaws that are not glossed over, that goes for the Neanderthal characters as well, they have their issues - but perhaps not what you would expect. Mr. Sawyer does not dwell on our fossil (and clearly lacking view of Neanderthals) he throws you into their world as it is parallel with ours. They are NOT explored as our less intelligent cousins come good (or aliens for that matter) - he retains their dignity and allows them to comment on our world in thought provoking ways. We get to comment on theirs as well.
Needless to say I have binged all three books now and remain a fan - you don't have to read all three - they all stand alone as a good read/listen...but I didn't want to leave the characters I had become fond of. The narration/production is good and doesn't detract from the story.
I found it an immersive experience - set aside any prejudice you may have about Sci-Fi - this is a very human story in every sense of the word

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    2 out of 5 stars

Good Idea, embarrassing execution.

Tries desperately to emulate worst habits of scifi, succeeds. 100% of value available in synopsis.

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No time to write... got to download next book!

A complete joy to listen to; great sci-fi, entertaining story and feeding back every optimistic, some might say romantic, notions I’ve ever thought about the evolution of our human relatives. Thoroughly entertaining read and worth the effort to read. I listened to this in one sitting, during a lazy - but in hindight very worthwhile - day. Definitely going to buy the next two titles in the series!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Brave New World for the new millennium

I rushed through this book. A great plot, interspersed with an outsider's view of the Earth as we know it. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Scott
  • 10-08-09

Scicen Fiction Can Be Literature

I found the book fast paced, well narrated and well edited. Some complain of the politics and religion but this is literature. Since we can't discuss these things at "polite gatherings" literature is appropriate except for those who wish pure escapism (While concise, entertaining and compelling certainly this is not a 'light' read).

It won the Hugo award (Science Fiction Writer's "Oscar" as most likely know), and only rarely are such prizes awarded to art without any merit.

Much fuss is made by some about the graphic sexual assault which is brief but absolutely key to distinguishing two cultures and a woman's feelings about a more sensitive being.

My only critique, is I found the verisimilitude lacking in the other culture regarding their belief system. I would think any being that could contemplate its death might have different views. A line or two more explaining their reasons would have helped. That is my only critique.

Finally, remember this is fiction. If one finds FICTION so offensive why bother reading? I can understand political or religious NON-fiction being offensive but isn't the joy of fiction that it's just "make believe?"

The price is right considering its length.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Guillermo
  • 25-04-09

Without Good and Evil

I'm very glad I listened to this Hominids Book 1 without regard to the numerous member reviews that clearly were blinded by their own hidebound perspectives.

The beauty of this book is that it shows us two entirely different civilizations each of which is in many ways blind to its own flaws and yet each of which has its own strengths and humanity.

It's clearly not by accident that the Neanderthals call themselves human and that the Homo Sapiens call themselves human and that as a whole each civilization is short sighted.

The flaws of the Neanderthals really are both potential and present flaws of our society, too. And the flaws of the Homosapiens are parallel flaws of our own.

It's a book without good or evil. Each society is both compassionate and prejudiced, and each side is worthy of existing and interacting with the other.

Finally, the main characters are for good reason benevolent and often wise. Thus individuals redeem their societies.

Some reviewers are caught up on one side or another, on one character or another, on trivia that misses the whole point. Be willing to accept the evil to appreciate the good.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Grant Loving
  • 16-05-08

Awesome!

Seriously! Freaking awesome! I can totally understand why it won a Hugo award. I would have driveway moments just as I got home from work listening to the book in my parked car. It is a good sci-fi book because it focuses on the characters and their interaction to the technology. The sci-fi part itself is spectacular and raises a bunch of what-if questions. It is the kinda sci-fi where it seems like it could almost happen, that it is not so much of a stretch. Another great thing about it, is that the storyline is episodic, so you almost get several stories at once. My next Audible purchase is going to be the next book in this series. I might actually put this up there with Ender's Game, and Starship Troopers, as one of my favorite books.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Fred
  • 14-02-09

Graphic Rape Scene

Hi, I don't want to sound too prude, but this book has an early graphic rape scene. In a regular book, it isn't a problem to fast forward through this, but in an audio format, it is just a little bit creepy.

I really felt awkward listening to this and just wanted to pass it on to others. I realize this may come off as old-fashioned, but having to listen to it is very different than reading through it (where you can skip lines and/or pages).

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 07-11-12

OK but flawed

Any additional comments?

Overall this isn't a bad book...the narration was super. Jonathan Davies doe a great job at bringing each character to life.
where i have a problem is parts of the story. For example (not giving away any story here) our Hero (Ponter) accidentally travels through a portal to a parallel universe and the 2nd or 3rd thought out of anyones mouth is "oh he must be from a parallel universe'"...i don't know, maybe, just maybe you explore a couple of other concepts first? And did we really need to experience a characters sexual assault? This did not enhance the book one bit for me, as a mattter of fact it diminished the story...i still cannot see where it fit into the story at all.
Also, i am really bored & tired of authors who feel the need to lecture us on all of the ills of modern society and worse: on our violent & foolish history, by having some fictional visitor bemoan, chastise & condemn us for our actions. it just seems a cheap shot and i expected more from a Hugo nominee....maybe i won't use these Hugo's as a basis for my choice of books anymore. I know i am not going to bother with any more of this series.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Linda B
  • 26-10-08

Very thoughtful

While this is a very interesting book, listeners/readers should be warned that it isn't fast paced, and the story unfolds slowly - this is not a criticism, but if you are impatient, you may not enjoy this. However, if you are willing to commit, it should be pretty enjoyable.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Adi
  • 09-07-09

Brilliant book - going straight to the next one!

I'm glad I chose to ignore some of the less good reviews this book got because I really really enjoyed it. It's a great story that shines a (not always flattering) light on our own society as well as exploring an interesting fictional world as well.

I've gotten so involved in this novel that I've listened (unusually for me) at all sorts of times outside of my normal commute and that I'm going straight on to book 2 as soon as my next credit becomes active!

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 05-03-11

Good Science Fiction

I am a fan of Robert J. Sawyer and this is another great read. This is Science Fiction in it's purest form. We are talking Neanderthals, parallel universes and a little physics thrown in. Character development not the best. Mainly it has neat stuff in it that leads to a lot of deep thought.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • crazybatcow
  • 10-02-09

Don't gag on the politics and stereotypes

If you've read Sawyer before you'll be aware that he has a lot of political commenting (a.k.a. complaining) in his works... this is no exception. And, no, it's not done discreetly or in flow with the story, he sorta just sticks it in at some spot he deems convenient - sometimes it doesn't clash with the story flow, but mostly it does and you'll stop and think, "now what does the government funding policy have to do with this Neanderthal?".

The narrator is okay though he attempts to do accents which are not very good or very consistent. I.e. the Jamaican accent sometimes sounds French, sometimes is not present, and once in awhile might sound sorta Jamaican, but not really.

The concept behind the book is cool and there is some exploration of how it could be "possible" which makes the sci-fi part of the novel pretty decent... it's the character development (or lack thereof) that makes this story frustrating. Instead of developing characters, Sawyer relies on stereotypes to dictate and explain behaviors: females are victims (to menstrual cycle, to rapists) men get so distracted by beautiful women they can't focus on their work, etc.

The concept is worth 4 stars, the rest of it warrants a 3, or less if you tend to choke on political grumbling. I won't buy any more in this series.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • CLR
  • 23-04-13

Great idea, execution a bit flat

The first in a series; great concept and a fun vision of what a "modern" neanderthal culture might be like. Even so the plot speed, complexity, and execution are a bit slow and even at times predictable. A fun read overall and worth the time.

10 people found this helpful