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Hybrids (Neanderthal Parallax) Hardcover – September 1, 2003

3.5 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Canadian writer Sawyer brings his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy to a close, leaving some loose ends that beg for a follow-up further exploring the interaction of two parallel worlds: the overcrowded and polluted one we're used to and another inhabited by highly intelligent and civilized Neanderthals. In the earlier books (Hominids and Humans), physicist Ponter Boddit got translated from the Neanderthal world to ours, where he fell in love with geneticist Mary Vaughn. The couple joined with people of good will from both worlds to keep the link open. Now, though, it's time to consider the implications of such a continuing connection. If people have trouble getting along because of such distinctions as sex and race, how will they be able to co-exist with members of another species? Some individuals see anyone different as a rival, a threat that must be destroyed. Others coldly calculate how to seize new territory for "humanity." Sawyer's characters are less interesting for who they are than for what they are-or what they represent. Still, his picture of the unspoiled Neanderthal world is charming, and he raises some provocative questions. If, for example, only Earth-humans have brains capable of religious belief, should Ponter and Mary genetically design their child with that ability or not? It all amounts to some of the most outrageous, stimulating speculation since Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land questioned our tired, timid conventions.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In the conclusion of the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy (Hominids, 2002, and Humans [BKL Ja 1 & 15 03] precede it), scientists and lovers Mary Vaughan, who is human, and Ponter Boddit, who is Neanderthal, embark on the harrowing adventure of conceiving a child together. To overcome the genetic barbed wire of mismatched chromosomes, they must use banned technology obtainable only from a Neanderthal scientist living in the northern wilderness, alone but not isolated, for Neanderthals prefer a nonprivate society in which injured persons are quickly rescued, theft is unknown, and personal violence is contained, thanks to permanently implanted personal monitors--a society whose benefits Sawyer persuasively describes. The Neanderthals' electronic surveillance is compatible with their basic peacefulness, however, and can't begin to cope with human craftiness or the malevolent racism of one of Mary's colleagues, who considers Ponter's world as a plum ripe for picking. If his ambitions constitute one alarming threat to a society, the imminent collapse of Earth's magnetic field constitutes another, for it is feared that this will wreak havoc with human consciousness. In an excellent closing twist, a New Year's celebration is disrupted in a very alarming, uniquely human manner as a few Neanderthals watch dumbfounded. A fine combination of love story, social commentary, and ecothriller closes a terrific series with a bang. Roberta Johnson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Neanderthal Parallax (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312876904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312876906
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,209,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Like most of the other reviewers, I too found this final book in the trilogy quite a let down and had to flog myself to finish reading it. My reaction to the end was more outrage at Sawyer for inflicting such a farce on us than anything else.

Perhaps the most unsatisfying aspect of the book, and indeed the whole series, was the superficiality of the characters. In particular the central female, Mary Vaughn, is shallow and one dimensional. And, for a doctorate in genetics, she seemed to have a strikingly random intelligence. For example, she loved her neandertal man Ponter dearly and wanted to "marry" him but it didn't occur to her until well into this third book that their chromosonal incompatibility would render then infertile. Sharp thinker, that Mary.

Also, her obsessive Catholicism made her appear ridiculous and confused. Sawyer obviously needed her religiosity to explore theology and mirror its lack of logic and reason. The goal was met, but at the cost of one of his primary character's credibility.

The other peripheral characters were stock and embarrassingly devoid of personality too. Cornelius was a totally unbelievable bad guy, too much irrational ranting about women and the general unfairness of the world to be anything but a caricature; Louise Benoit, the hottie French quantum physicist, is a brunette version of Pamela Anderson and just about as flimsy; Dr. Reuben, a shaven-headed black Haitian more benign that even a fantasy physician has the right to be. What a rainbow of characters! What a bunch of cardboard people!

The creative underpining of the series - divergent species of humans allowed to evolve into their own culturally distinct potentials - is excellent, and especially well realized in the first book.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Sawyer. I loved the first two books of this trilogy, and Hybrid lived up to what I've come to expect from Sawyer. It was a real page turner -- UNTIL about 2/3rds through the book.
Did Sawyer just get tired of writing this trilogy?
All of a sudden, the book turns to silliness. It's almost a parady of Sawyer's work. The theological thoughts are no longer delightful little subplots of a page or two, but drag on and on into endless garbage. The ending reads like a B-Movie from the 1950s with a crazed individual trying to destroy a world. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's -- well, I don't want to spoil the ending for you. It was bad enough for me to have to read it myself.
I often recommend Sawyer's books to friends, but I can't recommend this one. Hopefully this doesn't reflect Sawyer's future work.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert J. Sawyer's first book in this series, Hominids, was enjoyable, in spite of the hand-waving explanation of the connection between the universes. The characters, especially Ponter, were interesting and well-drawn.

The second book, Humans, represented the beginning of Sawyer's descent into one-world kumbaya utopian preaching.

This volume, Hybrids, consists of a thin plot grafted onto Sawyer's personal PC worldview.

Everyone in the Neanderthal world is an atheist bisexual environmentalist and their world is just about perfect, cue John Lennon. And let's not forget the obligatory Dan Brown-ish attack on the Catholic Church, can't have a enlightened book these days without that.

Among other ludicrous lines, the sapiens world North Vietnamese government is described as kind. Not as bad as many totalitarian regimes? Sure. Not as corrupt as the South Vietnamese regime? Could well be. Kind? Oh dear lord.

Sawyer quotes Solzhenitsyn's phrase that the line between good and evil runs through each human heart, but very tellingly fails to include the entire statement. I quote from The Gulag Archipelago Two:

Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person. And since that time I have come to understand the falsehood of all the revolutions in history: They destroy only those carriers of evil contemporary with them.

The full context of Solzhenitsyn's quote is precisely contrary to Sawyer's portrayal of an atheistic neo-Marxist Neanderthal paradise.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the first of the series and really enjoyed it, so I bought the other two here and continued reading them. A certain political slant was discernible even in the first book, but there it was a little more subtle and you could still enjoy what was a very interesting story. As I rolled through the second and third books the political slant was more and more "hit you over the head with it, just in case you were too dumb to notice it earlier". I still enjoyed the story with the second book and moved onto the third where it actually started becoming ridiculous to the point where it actually started detracting from the story. Oh yes, the story. In the third book, you keep waiting for them to get back to the story as where it initially seems to be doing is diverted into these weird meaningless tangents. The main human character Mary, is eventually turned into a ridiculous caricature. I'm not sure if it was Sawyers intent (and let me say up front that I have ready many of his books and thoroughly enjoyed them) to make this character unlikable, but that is exactly that happens. Some of the stuff that she comes up with is so out of left field...like seriously considering creating a genetic disease that would only kill men, since they are the cause of all the evil in the world. (she actually seriously considers doing this). By the end of the book, the constant male, American (and I am a Canadian), free market bashing made it harder and harder to take the story seriously. At one point you are treated to a Mary's realization that not all men are evil, and she lists a few including Pierre Trudeau, Ralph Nader, and Phil Donahue. (seriously...Phil Donahue???...what, Michael Moore wasnt available?). It just became silly and the plot so out there.Read more ›
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