Thursday, March 16, 2006


26. Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer
27. Humans by Robert J. Sawyer

These are the first two books of a trilogy called "the Neanderthal parallax". Basically, there is a parallel earth where Homo sapiens died out and Neanderthals survived. One of the Neanderthal physicists gets transported to our earth. In the first book, we see him adjusting to life here, and how our earth deals with him. The second book continues with more interaction between the two worlds, and a furthering of a relationship between the first Neanderthal to come to earth, and a Homo sapiens geneticist.

I really love the premise of the these books, and it allows Sawyer to make some interesting observations and points. I also really like how he didn't make the Neanderthal world just like earth, but with Neanderthals. There is a lot of rich detail about how the Neanderthals evolved along a different path. As far as I know, even though paleoanthropology is not my specialty, Sawyer also does very well with discussion of human evolution and the Neanderthals. He even mentions the American Association of Physical Anthropologists by name! Them's my peeps!

That said, I find the writing clunky at times, and there is a part of the 2nd book that I can tell is right from Guns, Germs and Steel (which Sawyer mentions). I also have problems with some of his descriptions of how evolution works, and which level of animals are 'conscious', i.e. able to make decisions. But still, the books are so imaginative and interesting it is easy to overlook these faults, and I am running out to the library today to get the third book in the series.

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