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Sawyer has created an exciting parallel world!

  • Jun 16, 2004
Rating:
+5
During early human history, scientists conjecture that there was a battle waged between by early humans and Neanderthals. Humans won out literally exterminating their genetically close brothers. In this novel a vortex was opened sometime before the battle whereby humans and Neanderthals were transported to a parallel Earth. On that Earth it was the Neanderthals that survived and went on to build that Earth's dominant society.

During the midst of a quantum computing experiment, a Neanderthal (Ponter) is accidentally transported through a new rift to Human Earth. His disappearance from his own version of Earth brings criminal charges to Adikor, his best friend for Ponter's disappearance and presumed murder.

Meanwhile Ponter is trapped in an alien world that exterminates species (Neanderthals, Mammoths, Whales, etc.) and has so many social values that are different from his own. He is befriended by a group of scientists working for a large Canadian energy company. He is able to communicate through a built in computer fused into Ponter's wrist. He longs to be back with his children and his friend but is resigned to the fact that he probably will not be able to see them again.

In Ponter's world, Adikor stands on trial for Ponter's world, which will bring a severe punishment to Adikor and all his relatives if he is not proved innocent (in Neanderthal world, one is guilty unless proven innocent). The only way he can prove his innocence is to either produce Ponter or prove that Ponter was transported to another dimension. Therefore, if Ponter can't get back, Adikor and his family will suffer.

The thing that is so great about this book is the contrast between the two worlds. Both have things that are very unique and wonderful to the other world as well as things that are dark and ugly to the other world (our hunting animals for sport, committing crimes and polluting the air are so repulsive to Ponter, whereas his world's way of dealing with crimes committed is so unthinkable to us. Also, everything one does in Ponter's world is recorded and could be later viewed so there is no privacy).

Sawyer also introduces a wealth of incredibly interesting characters such as Mary, a genetic specialist who certifies Ponter's DNA for what it is and also undergoes a very terrifying sexual attack by a human male predator. There is also humor in newspaper flashes that appear at the beginning of each chapter including a take-off on David Letterman's top 10 lists.

I highly look forward to reading the two sequel books in this trilogy.

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More Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax... reviews
review by . May 28, 2009
1. Hominds 2002. ISBN 0765345005.   2. Humans 2003. ISBN07653467543   3. Hybrids 2003. ISBN 076534906X    For all those readers of my posts who have asked for some fiction reviews, here comes not one, but three ( I read many fiction books a month but usually do not post a review- but some want lighter reading)    Sawyer is a prolific and gifted Canadian writer who postulated what would happen if there was a parallel physically identical …
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Wiki

In this polished anthropological SF yarn, the first of a trilogy from Nebula Award winner Sawyer (The Terminal Experiment), Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth, as both sides discover when a Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleoanthropologist 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. Ponter's daughter Jasmel believes in Adikor's innocence, but to prevent a horrendous miscarriage of justice (Adikor could be sterilized), she must try to reopen the portal and bring her father home. The author's usual high intelligence and occasionally daunting erudition are on prominent display, particularly in the depiction of Neanderthal society. Some plot points border on the simplistic, such as Mary's recovering from a rape thanks to Ponter's sensitivity, but these are minor flaws in a novel that appeals to both the intellect and the heart.
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ISBN-10: 0765345005
ISBN-13: 978-0765345004
Author: Robert J. Sawyer
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
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