Saturday, November 15, 2003


It seems like I should have found more time to post lately, but I haven't. We got the actual pictures from Cancun developed, so I will probably scan some in. I spent a couple of days in Chicago; those pictures should be ready by now. Right now Christina and I are at the tail end of a trip to Arizona to see my parents. I took some digital pictures I'll download when we get back.

But for now, I thought I'd give an update on my Hugo-winning novel-reading project. When last mentioned, I had called American Gods the "most disappointing" such novel yet. I also said I was waiting for this year's winner to determine my next book in the series.

The two thoughts combine in my reading of Hominids, which won this year. That makes Hugo winner #22 for me. And 22nd out of 22 on my favorites, I might add.

I read this book on my first day of jury duty. The premise is fairly interesting -- a Neanderthal scientist from an alternate Earth creates a portal to our Earth. In their Earth, Neanderthals became the dominant species. The interactions between humans and our primate cousins (siblings?) provide a neat opportunity to examine our assumptions about "human nature" and how things "have to be". Unfortunately, this promise is wasted with somewhat preachy contrasts between the pacifist, enivronmentalist
Neanderthals and big, bad humans. (Or would that be small, bad humans?) There's even a bad guy from a shadowy government agency. Other negatives include a bunch of forced Star Trek references (the novel might as well have been stamped, "for nerds, by a nerd") and wooden writing.)

Of course, all of this was sealed by the complete botching of the explanation of mathematics used in the book. Worse, number theory (my field). Since that was laughable (I mean, couldn't the author run it by somebody who knew something and say, "Please make sure I don't embarrass myself?"), I questioned the plausibility of the various other disciplines tapped for this ambitious book.

There are two sequels to Hominids -- Humans and Hybrids. I admit I ended up reading both of them. I guess I can identify three reasons -- one, I wanted to finish what I had started. Two, I wanted to get them out of the way in case one of them win's next year's Hugo. Three, and perhaps most importantly, my jury duty stretched out to four days and I desperately needed something to read -- quick.

Perhaps more later about the murder case for which I ended up serving on the jury. It was pretty interesting, but I have to be careful what I say. These are real people involved -- with real guns, who aren't afraid to shoot them. I don't want somebody learning how to use Google in a prison rehab program and finding his name on my web site.