Hybrids – Robert J. Sawyer (2004)

The final installment in the Sawyer’s Neanderthal Parallax seemed to just be coasting along and just continuing the storyline rather blandly and I felt I was only reluctantly reading it at first. But somewhere near the middle, the pace and intrigue picked up as a formidable plot started to unfold. With the inter dimensional portal between our universe and the parallel neanderthal universe firmly in place, the established characters (see Homonids and Humans) begin to make some long term plans and more permanent living arrangements.

Unfortunately, having seen the picturesque and pollution free neanderthal world as a veritable paradise, the Rand corporation financed team leader gathering research data from the alternate universe begins to see more than just a friendly neighbor type of a relationship. The prospect of starting with an untainted fresh world leads him to devise a scheme to take over that world and needless to say, our protagonist inter-species couple, Ponter and Mary, find themselves in the middle of it all.

While a second major plot-line deals with how religion as a concept is perceived differently between our two species and whether it is a genetic trait or a developmental one, a third and final plot-line deals with the couple intent on procreating a child, which of course is not that easy seeing as humans have an extra chromosome compared to our neanderthal cousins.

Sawyer manages to tie all these plot-lines together and delivers a satisfying climax that closes all the loose elements to end the series. My one complaint would be with the events at the actual climactic point in the novel that occurs as the New Years count down ceremonial ball descends during the last 10 seconds of New Years eve in Times Square in New York. The reader is forced to suspend belief as a scientific pivotal moment thousands of years in the making happens at that exact time with our protagonists at such location. Overly dramatic and unnecessary.

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