Monday, July 19, 2004

Review: The Neanderthal Paralax

Adam and I just finished reading the Neanderthal Paralax, a trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer which includes Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids.  The story is about a portal accidentally opening between our world and a parallel universe inhabited by Neanderthals.  This sounds like an episode of Sliders, but Sawyer's in depth descriptions of real scientific theory lends realism to the novels (keeps them from being Hokey).  Sawyer has a good sense of humour in his writing, too.  Plus, the bulk of the trilogy is set in Sudbury, Ontario.  Très cool.
I do have a beef about Hybrids (the 3rd book) and it concerns the character of Mary Vaughan, a geneticist who experiences a brutal rape, and later falls in love with Ponter Boddit, a neanderthal physicist who loves Coca Cola.  For one of the world's foremost geneticists, Mary is a bit of a nimrod.  I constantly want to shake her as she takes pages and pages to figure out stuff that the reader (that's me) gets after one sentence.    Her idiocy can be explained away in the first book because she is distracted by having just been raped, by the third it is no longer an excuse.  She's supposed to be an überintelligent geneticist who gets published in all the prestigious journals.  Sawyer mentions all these papers she's published, and her prestige around the world,  then turns around and hints that the only reason she got a York University tenure position is because of affirmative action hiring practices.  What's up with that, Rob?
Nevertheless, I highly recommend the trilogy to anyone who likes science fiction.  Adam liked it too.   

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