There's also a strong feminist slant--almost anti-male, though not overtly so. Virtually everything positive or productive that occurs is attributable to one of the many strong, resourceful, intelligent female characters; with one or two exceptions, the males are selfish, spineless, or destructive.
The climax felt somewhat over-produced but the author tied up the many plot threads nicely. A very satisfying read with some very relevant themes.
Even the long-term benefits and short-term costs of eugenics (the foundation of Sawyer's Neanderthal criminal justice system) are explored. I was hoping for more discussion of the long-term genetic costs of their version of eugenics--while eliminating genes that lead to criminal behavior, what positive traits might they be inadvertently removing from the gene pool as well?--but I didn't get it.
As for the story itself, I really liked the ending. The author avoided the temptation to add some contrived suspense to the climax, instead letting the story end naturally (for lack of a better word).
I know little enough about anthropology; those with more knowledge might spend a lot of time rolling their eyes. But I really enjoyed "Hominids". Thumbs up.
Wilson uses Ground Zero to start gathering up all the scattered disparate plot threads of his many stories and draw them together in preparation for the big end-of-the-world finish (Nightworld, already published 1992ish.)
Ground Zero is serviceable if you're following Wilson's great big overarching Secret History of the World chronicle, but it's sorely lacking in clever Repairman Jack revengey goodness.
The author does a wonderful job collecting piper tales and assembling them into a coherent and riveting story about two pipe-playing brothers whose lives take dramatically different turns. The climactic moment is telegraphed pretty early on though.
It's not necessary to read the Fables series before Peter & Max, but you won't be sorry if you do. Terrific series, terrific novel.