In this sequel to Hominids (p. 712), Sawyer sends a Neanderthal physicist from an alternate Earth back to our Earth only to discover what rotters Homosapiens really are. Umpteen years ago, Neanderthals evolved into the dominant primate species on Earth, displacing humans entirely. They’re now a tightly controlled, relatively small species that prizes rationality, control, and science above all. When physicist Ponder Boddit returns to Earth through a wormhole-like interdimensional portal, he’s not just fascinated by the crowded, smelly chaos that humans have made of it, but also wants to meet up again with geneticist Mary Vaughn. Herself oddly attracted to the brilliant, hairy, ridiculously muscled, heavy-browed Boddit, Vaughn wonders: If the two of them made love, would it be considered bestiality? Ultimately, more Neanderthals come through the tunnel and are paraded before the United Nations, while Vaughn goes to the Neanderthal Earth and learns of their ways. Boddit, like all the males, has a same-sex lover, and both are baffled by Vaughn’s jealousy. Veteran author Sawyer certainly knows his way around anthropological debates, but he’s less skilled as a dramatist. Events unfold in a jumbled, random manner, and little tension or interest in the story gets developed.
The last of this trilogy is promised, but it’s hard to imagine why.