Book cover art by Donato Giancola. Share Tweet This Can a rape victim find true love in the arms of Homo neanderthalensis? That, believe it or not, is just one of the bizarre thematic conundrums Bob Sawyer bitch-slaps readers with in Hominids, a work of pop-literary shock-and-awe that will no doubt further polarize the SF reading public into "love Sawyer or hate him" camps. Sawyer" seems to be a recurring rec. Still, he has this knack for managing to get one of his eminently readable yet stylistically trashy page-turners on either the Hugo or Nebula ballot almost every year.
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Shelves: sci-fi Although not every paleoanthropologist agreed, many shared her view that between 40, and 27, years ago, Homo sapiensanatomically modern humanscompleted the first of what would be many deliberate or inadvertent genocides, wiping the planet free of the only other extant member of the same genus, a separate, more gentle species that perhaps had been better entitled to the double meaning of the word humanity.
Humanitys destructive tendencies is one of the main themes of Hominids, Robert J. The idea of a caveman accidentally arriving in our modern world is not new, but Sawyer has turned the trope on its head here. Ponter, in spite of being a Neanderthal, is not a caveman, he comes from a parallel Earth more advanced and civilized than ours.
Fortunately for him, his arrival is noticed by the nice research scientists at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory where he came through. I am definitely developing a taste for Robert J. I thought Flashforward was generally good, if a little mediocre in term of prose and a silly ending.
I feel like I have a clearer idea of what a quantum computer is and I am definitely more informed about theories concerning Neanderthals. I find Hominids to be a much better book than Flashforward , the story is more compelling and several of the main characters are actually believable, sympathetic and likable, Ponter being the best of them. I actually felt moved at one point, with a spontaneous lump in the throat.
Sawyer also uses the novel to explore the idea of religion, the religion-free and generally crime-free utopia of the Neanderthal Earth implies that humanity would be better off without it. The society of the parallel Earth makes for an interesting foil for ours, with its numerous shortcomings.
The price for lack of crime seems to be a form of constant surveillance, I am not sure what Sawyer is advocating here. This parallel Earth, with its strange culture and concepts, is far too interesting to waste on a courtroom drama. The world building is actually very good but I just felt frustrated with the trials, where the case is going against Adikor, the defendant.
The outcome is already predictable and I felt that we, the readers, should be exploring this fascinating world instead of sitting through a fairly pedestrian legal drama legal thriller author Scott Turow even gets a name check. Having said that, the courtroom stuff takes up maybe a third of the narrative so it does not actually ruin the book. Another complaint is a rape subplot where a female geneticist, Mary Vaughan, is raped early on in the book.
There is an actual rape scene which is rather distasteful and entirely unnecessary. Anyway, it is a very brief scene, so there is probably no need to boycott the book because of it. I feel that we, sci-fi fans can be just as snobbish as the literati types sometimes. I like the more literary sci-fi style of Ursula K. Le Guin or Iain M. Banks but Sawyer writes more in the tradition of Asimov or Clarke, but perhaps with a little more commercial styling.
For me this is fine, there is always room for easily accessible sci-fi books. I am definitely sufficiently intrigued by his Neanderthal society to come back to the other two installments. Still, neutrinos poured out of the sun in such vast profusion that collisions did occasionally occur—and heavy water was an ideal target.
But if you used a conventional computer to factor a big number—say, one with digits, like those used to encrypt credit-card transactions on the World Wide Web—it would take countless centuries to try all the possible factors one at a time. But a quantum computer uses superposition of quantum states to check multiple possible factors simultaneously.
Robert J. Sawyer
Terminology[ edit ] As the books unfold, the term human is used to refer to both species; both species agree to use the Neanderthal terms—gliksin for members of Homo sapiens and barast for members of Homo neanderthalensis—to distinguish between them. Barast society[ edit ] Barasts Neanderthals are dedicated hunter-gatherers, and have no developed concept of agriculture. Despite this, they are still technologically advanced, possessing quantum computers , helicopters , communications, and biological recording instruments. They live in harmony with their environment, using clean energy, living homes, and keeping a constant population. They measure long periods of time in lunar months, not years.
The Neanderthal Parallax