Tag Archives: Robert J. Sawyer

May’s Book – Hybrids

May was a great month for reading, as well as travelling. The two just might have gone hand-in-hand! I managed to plough through 3 books in the one month while sitting on trains, plans and automobiles – kidding the that one, after all, those of you who know me well, know I can’t read ANYTHING in a car, not even a map, without getting sick. I’m going to make an attempt to review all three books that I read, even though my reviews are starting to get pretty heavy on one author. Yep, read another Sawyer book!

You may recall that I read Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips in January,  Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams in February,  Hominds by Robert J. Sawyer in March and Humans by Robert J. Sawyer in April. Since I’d already read the first two books in the The Neanderthal Parallax  series, it only made sense for me to read the third and final installment, Hybrids.

May’s Book – Hybrids

Following is part of the description found on the Chapters website:

Now, in Hybrids, Ponter Boddit and his Homo sapiens lover, geneticist Mary Vaughan, are torn between two worlds, struggling to find a way to make their star-crossed relationship work. Aided by banned Neanderthal technology, they plan to conceive the first hybrid child, a symbol of hope for the joining of their two versions of reality.

But after an experiment shows that Mary”s religious faith – something completely absent in Neanderthals – is a quirk of the neurological wiring of Homo sapiens brains, Ponter and Mary must decide whether their child should be predisposed to atheism or belief. Meanwhile, as Mary”s Earth is dealing with a collapse of its planetary magnetic field, her boss, the enigmatic Jock Krieger, has turned envious eyes on the unspoiled Eden that is the Neanderthal world . . .
Hybrids is filled to bursting with Sawyer”s signature speculations about alternative ways of being human, exploding our preconceptions of morality and gender, of faith and love. His Neanderthal Parallax trilogy is a classic in the making, and here he brings it to a stunning, thought-provoking conclusion that”s sure to make Hybrids one of the most controversial books of the year.
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Aprils’s Book – Humans

Yes, I am well aware that we are currently in the month of June and that therefore by review of the book I read in April is VERY out of date! Hey, as I’ve often said, better late than never 🙂 You may recall that I read Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips in January,  Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams in February and Hominds by Robert J. Sawyer in March. Since Hominds was the first book in a trilogy, I decided to continue along this theme and tackle the second book: Humans.

Following in the description found on Amazon:

For the most part, Ponter Boddit is happy to be back in his own world of Neanderthals. He has reunited with friends and family, and returned to his life as a physicist. Yet he can’t help but feel that unfinished business remains from his trip to the parallel world inhabited by the strange, possibly dangerous people who call themselves Homo sapiens. And he would like to see Mary Vaughan again.Humans, the second volume in Robert J. Sawyer’s Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, tells the story of Ponter’s second trip to our world and the opening of the portal between worlds to a few other travellers. It is for the most part a quiet story of the deepening relationship between Ponter and Mary, as Ponter continues his investigation of the human world and develops a growing interest in the preoccupation of its residents with religion. Meanwhile, intercut scenes of Ponter in therapy in his homeworld contribute to a growing tension in the story, as the reason for Ponter’s feelings of guilt is slowly revealed. At the same time, scientists are beginning to notice that something odd is happening with the magnetic fields of both Earths.

I’m fairly certain that I’ve previously mentioned that Sawyer is one of my all time favorite authors, and the first two books in the The Neanderthal Parallax continue to prove this to me. As a middle book it doesn’t have the same intensity that you find in a standalone book, or the opening or closing of a series. For some this might turn them off, after all Sawyer is one who writes in a way that draws you in quickly and keeps you there. This book was much slower in pace than any other book I’d read by Sawyer, it took me pretty much the entire month of April to read. Humans is not as exciting as Hominds but I still found it to be a very well written book with great character developement. Don’t get me wrong, this is not one of my favorite books, but I still found it to be a satisfactory read.

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March’s Book – Hominids

My goodness three books to talk about already! You may recall that I read Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, and Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams in February. So, what book did I read for March? I chose a book by one of my all time favorite authors, Robert J. Sawyer. The book in question is Hominids.

Over the years I’ve had a few different people suggest The Neanderthal Parallax to me. Being as the concept sounded interesting and I am a huge fan of Sawyer’s, I was interested. I used the last of my book money from Brain (great Christmas present might I add) and went shopping. I can home with Hominids among other books.

Following in the description found on the back of the book and at Chapters Online:

Hominids examines two unique species of people. We are one of those species; the other is the Neanderthals of a parallel world where they became the dominant intelligence. The Neanderthal civilization has reached heights of culture and science comparable to our own, but with radically different history, society and philosophy.

Ponter Boddit, a Neanderthal physicist, accidentally pierces the barrier between worlds and is transferred to our universe. Almost immediately recognized as a Neanderthal, but only much later as a scientist, he is quarantined and studied, alone and bewildered, a stranger in a strange land. But Ponter is also befriended-by a doctor and a physicist who share his questing intelligence, and especially by Canadian geneticist Mary Vaughan, a woman with whom he develops a special rapport.

Ponter’s partner, Adikor Huld, finds himself with a messy lab, a missing body, suspicious people all around and an explosive murder trial. How can he possibly prove his innocence when he has no idea what actually happened to Ponter?

As I said, and interesting concept. Well, let’s put it this way. In spite of working two jobs, volunteering with Girl Guides, having a busy social life and two sick cats, I read this book in 4 or 5 days. I loved it.

As always Sawyer does a great job of pulling real science in. He presents it in a way that a layperson can understand and relate to. The characters he creates are once yet again interesting, complex and realistic. They have challenges, hopes, dreams and they to experience the often unfairness of life. Finally, I always enjoy the Canadian aspects and references in his books. Sawyer is a Canadian author and thankfully it means that Canada is shown in all her glory and disarray. There are landmarks that I have been to, seen, or heard of.

All in all, I am very happy with this book. That said, I would have been surprised if I found myself saying “don’t bother.” Truly I have yet to read something by Sawyer that I haven’t enjoyed!

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Summer Reading

Why do people have Summer Reading lists, but not Spring, Fall or Winter reading lists?  I’ve always thought Winter is the idea time for such a thing as you’re more likely to want to stay in and curl up in a soft chair.  Then again, maybe most people prefer to sit around when it’s hot – I’ve come to realize that I’m rather unique in my LOVE of the heat.  That said, I recently spent several hours in my local Chapter Book Store and walked away with 6 books – I guess that means I have a Summer Reading list now! 

The first two are books I have previously read but loved and would gladly read over and over and over and over and over and….you get the idea.  Both are Science Fiction, which does happen to be one of my all time favorite genera’s (both in books and television). 

Pastwatch the Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card

I first read Pastwatch back in High School when I first discovered Orson Scott Card.  Since then I have read a very large number of his books, and continue to be amazing by his writing.  Of all books I’ve ever read this is one of my favorites, possibly topped only by Enders Game (also by Orson Scott Card).  If you’re looking for a book that involves time travel, changing the past/future and alternate reality then this is the book for you.

Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer

The first time I read Calculating God I remember being completely surprised and thrilled to find that the opening scene takes place at one of my all time favorite places – the ROM and the former Planetarium.  One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it never gives final answers about the big questions, it gives you thoughts and idea’s instead.  I’m not going to lie, this book is right up there with Pastwatch and Enders Game.

Now we’re getting into the books I haven’t read before.  Two of them are SciFi, the other two are non-fiction.

A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card

Yep, you all have already seen one book by this guy on my list.  As mentioned he’s one of my all time favorite authors, plus this book was only $2!  It is part of the Ender Series, which started with the previously mentioned Enders Game.  Just a short little side story, it will be good for a rainy evening or some other time where I know I won’t want to leave something partially unread.  I’m really looking forward to it 🙂

The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton

Okay, I’m not going to lie, before I stumbled across this book I had never even heard of this Author.  I’m not even sure what kind of lead up to it I should provide, so I’m not going to.  If you’re interested in finding out what I’ve chosen to add to my reading list, go look it up.  All I know is that it sounds fascinating and intense.

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs

A few summers ago I read The Year of Living Biblically by the same author, and I laughed so hard at times that I cried.  The way this man writes is amazing, the way he lives, astounding!  In this case apparently he turned his life into multiple experiments.  Apparently at one point he outsources all aspects of his life to India, another time he spends a month practicing “Radical Honesty” and he even goes to the Academy Awards disguised as a movie star to see why fame has strange and warping effects.  I can’t wait to read this, I truly expect I will be in stitches with tears running down my face at varying times. 

Under a Green Sky by Peter D. Ward Ph.D

Okay, so all of my other books are fairly light reading, this one not quite so much.  As the tag line on this books says: Global Warming, the mass extinctions of the past and what they can tell us about our future.  Yep, I’m thinking this one won’t be quite so light.  That said, I tend to love this kind of book because it makes me think (which SciFi does aswell), but in this case it makes me think about things as they are.  My beloved SciFi makes me think, and sets my imagination on fire, but it tends to send me into imaginary futures that may or may not have a basis in our current world.  Books like this ground me.  I’m really hoping it will be a good read.  I think I’ll save this one for a sunny day on a beach.  That way even when it gets heavy, it won’t bring me down, after all, I’ll be on the beach with my toes in the sand!

Do you have a Summer Reading List?  If so, what books are on it?  If you don’t, why not?

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