The conclusion to the Parallax Trilogy sees Ponter and Mary working out how (and if) they can make a relationship between them work – Mary has trouble with the Neanderthal relationship set up, and Ponter can’t pretend his other partnership doesn’t exist. But more pressing is the discovery that our earth’s poles are about to switch, reversing the magnetic force to the south, something which happens on average every 40,000 years, and which has already occurred in the Neanderthal reality. At the same time, a covert plot threatens the population of one whole world.
Although the concluding instalment of this fabulous series narratively focuses on these aspects, the thematic focus is on the nature, cause and influence of religion, and the nature of humanity, particularly gendered thinking. That sounds rather dry and heavy but, as I wrote previously, Sawyer manages to combine really significant questions with gripping and readable plot.
I wrote in the previous review that Sawyer has been accused of being anti-male, and it’s certainly true that there are men in this series who are depicted as being harsh, brutal, single-minded and rapine. However, the women don’t all behave in an exemplary way, and at least one man is redeemed by his selflessness. Though it could be argued that this is the result of his being emasculated… Which brings us to the heart of Sawyer’s writing – there are no easy answers, but any number of fascinating questions, and a great journey. - Alex