Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer
(Neanderthal Parallax)

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Robert Sawyer's SF novels are perennial nominees for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, or both. Clearly, he must be doing something right since each one has been something new and different. What they do have in common is imaginative originality, great stories, and unique scientific extrapolation. His latest is no exception.

Hominids is a strong, stand-alone SF novel, but it's also the first book of The Neanderthal Parallax, a trilogy that will examine two unique species of people. They are alien to each other, yet bound together by the never-ending quest for knowledge and, beneath their differences, a common humanity. We are one of those species, the other is the Neanderthals of a parallel world where they, not Homo sapiens, became the dominant intelligence. In that world, Neanderthal civilization has reached heights of culture and science comparable to our own, but is very different in history, society, and philosophy.

During a risky experiment deep in a mine in Canada, Ponter Boddit, a Neanderthal physicist, accidentally pierces the barrier between worlds and is transferred to our universe, where in the same mine another experiment is taking place. Hurt, but alive, he is almost immediately recognized as a Neanderthal, but only much later as a scientist. He is captured and studied, alone and bewildered, a stranger in a strange land. But Ponter is also befriended-by a doctor and a physicist who share his questing intelligence and boundless enthusiasm for the world's strangeness, and especially by geneticist Mary Vaughan, a lonely woman with whom he develops a special rapport.

Meanwhile, Ponter's partner, Adikor Huld, finds himself with a messy lab, a missing body, suspicious people all around, and an explosive murder trial that he can't possibly win because he has no idea what actually happened. Talk about a scientific challenge!

Contact between humans and Neanderthals creates a relationship fraught with conflict, philosophical challenge, and threat to the existence of one species or the other-or both-but equally rich in boundless possibilities for cooperation and growth on many levels, from the practical to the esthetic to the scientific to the spiritual. In short, Robert J. Sawyner has done it again. Hominids is the winner of the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

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About Robert J. Sawyer

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Robert J. Sawyer has been called "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by The Ottawa Citizen. He is one of only seven writers in history-and the only Canadian-to win all three of the world's top awards for best science-fiction novel of the year: the Hugo (which he won in 2003 for Hominids), the Nebula (which he won in 1995 for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won in 2005 for Mindscan). In total, Rob has authored over 18 science-fiction novels and won forty-one national and international awards for his fiction, including a record-setting ten Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards ("Auroras") and the Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award, one of Canada's most significant literary honors. In 2008, he received his tenth Hugo Award nomination for his novel Rollback. His novels have been translated into 14 languages. They are top-ten national mainstream bestsellers in Canada and have hit number one on the Locus bestsellers' list. Born in Ottawa in 1960, Rob grew up in Toronto and now lives in Mississauga (just west of Toronto), with poet Carolyn Clink, his wife of twenty-four years. He was the first science-fiction writer to have a website, and that site now contains more than one million words of material.
Published February 17, 2003 by Tor Books. 448 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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While we follow the terrors of DNA specialist Mary Vaughan, who gets raped at knifepoint but survives, we learn that Ponter wears a wrist implant, a black box that records his entire life history, including his immediate physiological experiences, follows his movements through Global Positioning,...

Jul 01 2002 | Read Full Review of Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax)

SF Site

Ponter Boddit -- respected physicist, father, lover, and Neanderthal -- is about to be plucked from his world and thrust into a parallel world where, hard as it is to believe, homo sapiens became the dominant life form.

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I love books that provide a great read, teach you things (based on impeccable research) that you didn’t know before, as well as creating characters you grow to love.

Jul 20 2007 | Read Full Review of Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax)

Strange Horizons

(Sawyer even includes an introduction in which he explains the issues concerning the Neanderthal and Neandertal spellings and pronunciations.) Hominids includes much that will be familiar to readers of some of Sawyer's past novels (Flashforward, Factoring Humanity, and especially Calculating G...

Jul 22 2002 | Read Full Review of Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax)

Sci-Fi Bulletin

There are some nice wry moments – particularly the chapter headings taken from a “news search” – and the odd pop culture reference (I wonder how many people nowadays will get the Kira Nerys joke).

Nov 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax)

Fiction Reviews

So as a work of hard SF, this novel definitely gets the thumbs up (or is it thumbs down in the context of what the Roman Emperors actually did overlooking the arena pit: it's appropriate to be Sawyer-thorough in one's historic references when reviewing this man's work).

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