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Really Bad Series That I Can’t Stop Reading

July 1, 2009

It’s books like this that make me miss my old “book blog.” In my former life, I was an archaeologist. And while I didn’t pursue that path, I have a healthy love of Neanderthals. And stories about Neanderthals and Homo sapiens (hello, Clan of the Cave Bear!) – so when Frank and I heard about the Robert Sawyer “Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy” we were intrigued. I don’t normally love sci-fi, but I could give this a shot. We thought maybe we could start a little book club of our own while he was in Iceland.

So, I read the first book. It’s a really interesting concept: There was only one existence, on Earth. However, when consciousness developed, and multiple possibilities became … possible, alternate dimensions started forming. And in our dimension, Homo sapiens became the dominant species, and Neanderthals are no more. In another, Neanderthals kicked our butts – and they developed a society/Earth of their own. So, because of¬† some sort of crazy physics computer thing, a portal gets opened between our world and theirs. And they are kind of kick-ass.

So, the first book had a lot of fun stuff about it. An alternate dimension where Neanderthals have what appears to be a utopia, and there are interesting ideas about archaeology and society creation, relationships between the genders. It’s a little heavy-handed on certain things, and the writing is not great, but – hey! Neanderthals and alternate dimensions is all I need. Or so I thought.

I finished the second in the trilogy, and am halfway through the third. All I can say is “Oy.” Seriously. There is an interspecies love story, complete with at least one sex scene. There is crazy stuff “examining” religion, and it’s just so … ugh. Top it off with an anti-American/pro-Candian bias (author is Canadian) and a real anti-gun bend, and you got yourself a really poorly written series. One of my favorite sentences is when the daughter runs from “her deer to her dear.” The main character goes from an accomplished scientist to a whiny, jealous nutcase who can only think of marrying her new man, and having his babies.

It’s a shame, because I love the ideas, and his imagination is great. I am just so tired of people writing what could just be a fun story and turning it into some treatise on God, or science, privacy, gun control, the death penalty, the environment, rape – whatever. This guy manages to “examine” all these issues in such a self-aware way, that it’s a total turn-off. And yet, I can’t put it down.

Neanderthal

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2009 2:52 pm

    I agree completely. The first book was excellent. The second, not so much, and the third was almost unreadable.

    One thing that I found fascinating about the concept, though, was the idea of a society where everyone knew they were being recorded constantly. I believe that the author only scratched the surface of that conceit, but it was one of the things that really did make it interesting to me.

    • July 1, 2009 3:00 pm

      Exactly! I mean, there were so many places to go, and the author – instead of doing one, really well – decides to do them ALL. And seems to go in depth in the most inane of them.

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