Robert J. Sawyer's Hominids

Robert J. Sawyer has hit the mark again with Hominids.

Scientists Ponter Boddit and Adikor Huld are testing one of Ponter's theories of quantum physics when Ponter is suddenly transported into a strange world in which the Gliksins - an ancient relative of modern humans, now extinct - are the dominant life form and Ponter is the only modern human to be found. Equally surprised are the scientists of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory when a living, breathing Neanderthal suddenly appears, seemingly out of nowhere, in the midst of their subterranean facility. Who or what is this strange creature? How did he get into the SNO? Can he really be a Neanderthal?

Thus begins Ponter Boddit's sojourn in our Universe, while his friend and colleague Adikor Huld desperately searches back in Ponter's Universe Prime for an answer to how Ponter disappeared and a means to bringing him back.

With Hominids Robert J. Sawyer has created a fascinating juxtaposition of two Earths - one in which Homo sapiens became the dominant species and Neanderthals became extinct, the second, a parallel Earth in which Homo neanderthalenis prevailed and our own species was wiped out. By examining our own culture through Ponter's eyes - as well as speculating as to how Ponter's culture might deal with the same issues, Sawyer is able to tackle questions of science, religion, politics and society from a fresh and meaningful perspective.

The hard science of Hominids is eminently readable, the characters are interesting and the sociology is relevant. An enjoyable read and one I would highly recommend to others. As with Calculating God, it was nice to see a "first contact" story from a Canadian perspective.