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Neanderthal Parallax

Posted Apr 11, 2005 in Books.

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I have always considered myself to be a fan of hard science fiction. I prefer pure science fiction to fantasy, and I particularly enjoy novels that feature a high level of scientific accuracy (or at least draw from it). Recently, I've been attempting to “audition” authors to add to my pool of favorites. A few days ago, for example, I read Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, but I'm afraid I wasn't all that impressed.

I am currently reading a trilogy of books by Robert J. Sawyer. The first is Hominids, in which Sawyer describes a parallel universe where Neanderthal man is the dominant species on our planet. A character is accidentally transported to our universe where he is befriended, most notably, by a geneticist who specializes in the study of human ancestors.

In Humans, the same Neanderthal physicist returns to our world as cultural exchanges between the two Earth's begin. In Hybrids, the two attempt to conceive the first hybrid child; however, they encounter moral difficulties when they discover that religious beliefs are actually the result of a neurological quirk.

I am impressed with Sawyer's writing style, his attention to detail, and his willingness to confront and discuss moral, traumatic, and psychological issues. Highly recommended.

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