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Publisher's Summary

Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth. A Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleo-anthropologist Mary Vaughan, promptly identifies and warmly receives Ponter. Solving the language problem and much else is a mini-computer, called a Companion, implanted in the brain of every Neanderthal. A computerized guardian spirit, however, doesn't eliminate cross-cultural confusion; permanent male-female sexuality, rape, and overpopulation are all alien to Ponter. Nor can it help his housemate and fellow scientist back in his world, Adikor Huld, when the authorities charge Adikor with his murder.BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer explains why Ponter Boddit is his favorite among all the characters he's created.
©2002 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

Hugo Award Winner, Best Novel, 2003
"Sawyer is a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation." (The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Jim "The Impatient" on 03-05-11

Good Science Fiction

I am a fan of Robert J. Sawyer and this is another great read. This is Science Fiction in it's purest form. We are talking Neanderthals, parallel universes and a little physics thrown in. Character development not the best. Mainly it has neat stuff in it that leads to a lot of deep thought.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

By Scott on 08-10-09

Scicen Fiction Can Be Literature

I found the book fast paced, well narrated and well edited. Some complain of the politics and religion but this is literature. Since we can't discuss these things at "polite gatherings" literature is appropriate except for those who wish pure escapism (While concise, entertaining and compelling certainly this is not a 'light' read).

It won the Hugo award (Science Fiction Writer's "Oscar" as most likely know), and only rarely are such prizes awarded to art without any merit.

Much fuss is made by some about the graphic sexual assault which is brief but absolutely key to distinguishing two cultures and a woman's feelings about a more sensitive being.

My only critique, is I found the verisimilitude lacking in the other culture regarding their belief system. I would think any being that could contemplate its death might have different views. A line or two more explaining their reasons would have helped. That is my only critique.

Finally, remember this is fiction. If one finds FICTION so offensive why bother reading? I can understand political or religious NON-fiction being offensive but isn't the joy of fiction that it's just "make believe?"

The price is right considering its length.

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28 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Philippa on 04-22-09

Really Good

I had no real preconceptions about this title, I'd never heard of the writer and only got it because I have an interest in Neanderthals - but I wasn't disappointed at all! I'm not really interested in science fiction in general, Star Trek and Star Wars leave me cold! But this is really a human interest story, looking at an outsiders view of our humanity, as well as exploring what our lives might be like if our ancestors had made different descisions - for example what would we be like without religion?

I thoroughly reccomend; it is gripping, thrilling and really gets you going and wanting more! I'd want to carry on listening even when I was not driving or down the gym!

The thing that got me was that there was loads of science in it, real detailed information that was accurate and relevant to the story and that thoroughly interested me.

The world Ponter comes from is explained in vivid detail and you want to go there and see it for yourself - however, when Ponter asks Mary, Louise and Reuben about our lack of conservation and how we've destroyed our habitat it really makes you question humanity's motives and mistakes. If you want to feel positve about your species this is probably not the best book - if you want a bit of science fiction and romance this is for you!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

By lesley on 07-30-10

most enjoyable

This book was much more interesting than the title lead me to expect. How the neanderthals structured their society gave me much food for thought.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Bee on 12-02-15

Totally enjoyable

Loved the ideas put forth here, I found it very thought provoking. The Narrator is skilled and creates distinct voices for each character.

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