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Evolution by Stephen Baxter

Evolution (2003)

by Stephen Baxter

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8682110,253 (3.68)29



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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Final thoughts to come. ( )
  JulieCovington | May 29, 2016 |
Interesting in its scope, but I don't much care for his style. It's a little too direct in places. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
  MisaBookworm | Feb 2, 2016 |
As a rollicking science fiction tale, this book may leave the reader scratching their head. It is more a series of interrelated short stories and vignettes given from the viewpoint of creatures stretching back in time from the first tiny mammals to survive the impact which took out the dinosaurs, to the present, to the distant future when our planet is trashed and our sun has expanded to re-absorb the Earth.

What this story -does- do more clearly than all the snoozer science textbooks we were forced to read in high school and college is take the various critical turning points of evolution, when some new adaptation or trait emerged to help our species evolve into the species we know of as homo sapiens today. And each of those vignettes is interesting, fully explained, and will leave the lay-reader with a thorough understanding of how we ended up where we are today.

And then Baxter journeys into our future...

With the same thoroughness, Baxter takes us through various plausibilities, extrapolating the choices we are making as a species today to ignore environmental degradation, civil unrest, aggression, and carries our species forward into the distant future, building upon the framework he built in the first half of the book to get us where we are evolutionarily speaking today, to show us where we are headed in the future ... and it is not pretty.

This book stayed with me for a long time after I read it. We're all screwed!!!

4 Evolutionary Monkeys ( )
  Anna_Erishkigal | Mar 29, 2014 |
99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. What if anything makes us special? And what does the future hold for us a species?

This novel tackles those questions in an ambitious 600+ collection of chronological vignettes. These cover the proto-simian creature Purgatorius, early primates like notharctus, hominids such as australopithecines & Homo erectus, Neanderthals, modern day humans, and imagined future possibilities for our kind. There's plenty of scientific exposition and speculation to mull over on the long journey. (Also generous amounts of sex and violence, but I suppose that's par for the course.)

PS: I found the description of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction (the one that got the dinosaurs) to be particularly riveting. Several theories exist regarding the cause, but Baxter goes with the most popular scenario: asteroid impact. Those who like apocalyptic fiction should particularly enjoy this chapter. ( )
  saturnloft | Aug 23, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
To say that Baxter's reach exceeds his grasp is to state the obvious. What is astonishing is how successfully he brings to life a wide range of facts and conjectures, and how entertaining as well as informative this book -- an episodic novel with evolution as its protagonist -- manages to be.

» Add other authors (2 possible)

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Stephen Baxterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wood, AshleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Judging from the past, we may safely infer that not one living species will transmit its unaltered likeness to a distant futurity. And of the species now living very few will transmit progeny of any kind to a far distant futurity.

- Charles Darwin
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859)
To Sandra, again,
and to the rest of us, in hope of long perspectives
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As the plane descended toward Darwin it ran into a cloud of billowing black smoke.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Please help LibraryThing by identifying which version of the many Evolution titles your copy of this work is. For instance, provide the editor's name; put [DVD] after the title; or identify the publisher's series.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345457838, Mass Market Paperback)

Following up his cosmic Manifold series, Stephen Baxter peers back on a more prosaic history in the worthy yet uneven Evolution. The book is nothing less than a novelization of human evolution, a mega-Michener treatment of 65 million years starring a host of smart, furry primates representing Homo sapiens's ancestry. Each stage of our ancestry is represented by a character of progressively increasing intelligence, empathy, and brain size, who must survive predation and other perils long enough to keep the natural-selection ball rolling. While Baxter carefully follows some widely accepted theories of evolution--punctuated equilibrium, for instance--he also strays from the known in postulating air whales and sentient, tool-wielding dinosaurs. And why not? There's nothing in the fossil record to contradict his musings about those things, or about the first instances of mammalian altruism and deception, which he also lets us observe. From little Purga, a shrewlike mammal scurrying under the feet of ankylosaurs, all the way through Ultimate, the last human descendant, Baxter adds drama and a strong story arc to our past and future. But he spends too much time on details of the various prehumans' lives, which can become repetitive: fight, mate, die, ad infinitum. And readers eager for a science-fictional adventure will only find satisfaction in the posthuman chapters at the end. Despite these flaws, Evolution grips the attention with an epoch-spanning tale of the random changes that rule our genetic heritage. Recommended. --Therese Littleton

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:11 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Now available in paperback -- an awe-inspiring epic that covers an astonishing 165 million years, and dramatizes the amazing sweep of humankind's evolution from the far past to the distant future.

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