Robert J. Sawyer
Hominids Cover

Interesting Premise, Clunky Execution


The idea of a neanderthal scientist traveling from a parallel world into ours is certainly an interesting one. While there are some interesting facts from physics and anthropology used to support this novel, Sawyer takes a fair bit of artistic license with accepted science in order to make his story feasible.

The two parallel plotlines follow Ponter, as he learns about the human world, and his man-mate Adikor, who is left behind to deal with Ponter's disappearance.

My favorite of the two stories was definitely Adikor's. Sawyer created an interesting modern Neanderthal society, though I wish the book allowed us to see more of it. Strangely, Sawyer portrays constant surveillance, strict gender roles, and genetic culling as positive aspects of Neanderthal society. Adikor's story does illustrate some flaws in their community, but the novel still comes across as strongly in favor of this oppressive regime.

However, Ponter's story mostly killed my enjoyment of the book. Very little seemed to happen, and their conversations had a tendency to devolve into anti-human preaching. I never really believed the human characters as individuals, since they didn't seem to have much depth to their personalities.

The anti-human preaching, the clear bias in favor of a horrifically oppressive society, and a gratuious rape scene early in the book combined to make this book feel as if it were hobbled by the message that it was intended to deliver.