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Evolutionby Stephen Baxter
Synopses & Reviews
It's the job of a science fiction writer to visualize extrapolations of the future. But there are those who go far beyond, venturing into realms of breathtaking science. That kind of cutting edge talent is as rare as a supernova — and, in its own way, just as powerful. Arthur C. Clarke had it. So did William Gibson. Now, with Evolution, Stephen Baxter delivers what is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year — and shows once again why he belongs among the select company of science fiction writers who matter.
Stretching from the distant past into the remote future, from primordial Earth to the stars, Evolution is a soaring symphony of struggle, extinction, and survival, a dazzling epic that combines a dozen scientific disciplines and a cast of unforgettable characters to convey the grand drama of evolution in all its awesome majesty and rigorous beauty.
Sixty-five million years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, lived a small mammal, a proto-primate of the species Purgatorius. From this humble beginning, Baxter traces the human lineage forward through time. The adventure that unfolds is a gripping odyssey governed by chance and competition, a perilous journey to an uncertain destination along a route beset by sudden and catastrophic upheavals. It is a route that ends, for most species, in stagnation or extinction. Why should humanity escape this fate?
A generation from today, a group of concerned scientists — distant descendants of that primitive Purgatorius — gathers on a remote island to discuss this very question. The ceaseless expansion of human civilization has triggered an urgent environmental crisis that must be solved now if the Earth is to survive as a place hospitable to human life.
"More concerned with technical detail than character or plot, the book rises above its fragmented narrative and frequently repetitive violence to reach a grim and stoic grandeur....Here is a rigorously constructed hard SF novel where the question is not whether humanity will reach the stars but how it will survive its own worst tendencies." Publishers Weekly
"[A] work of outrageous ambition....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." Gerald Jones, The New York Times Book Review
"Bulky assemblage — it's a stretch to call this a novel — of animated dioramas endeavoring to illustrate the story of primate evolution....Infotainment: glum, dyspeptic, and depressing." Kirkus Reviews
"Baxter's new novel is a sprawling, ambitious chronicle spanning millennia....The account of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction and the rise of mammals as the dominant life-form is particularly fascinating....Similarly well crafted is Baxter's projection of a posthuman future...a tour-de-force prognostication of further strange means for survival." Regina Schroeder, Booklist
"Spanning more than 165 million years and encompassing the entire planet, Baxter's ambitious saga provides both an exercise in painless paleontology and superb storytelling. Highly recommended for sf as well as general fiction collections." Library Journal
"Baxter gives us a Technicolor panorama of human development....The result is a powerful fusion of science and imagination....Baxter makes an impressive job of putting flesh on to the bones of the scientific theory....[He] leaves you with a memorable yet unsettling sense of our insignificance in the scheme of things." PD Smith, The Guardian (U.K.)
Evolution covers the vast human history, from our first mammalian ancestors to human pre-history, to the current, the future, and the far-future. In the sweeping, mind-bending fashion that has become Baxter's calling card, he covers the full human story — in Baxter's own words, "Evolution is our story: of our remote ancestors' dangerous existence at the feet of the dinosaurs, of how humans came to dominate the Earth — and eventually, passing into the future, of the fate of our strange descendants."
Covering an astonishing 165 million years, this awe-inspiring epic dramatizes the amazing sweep of humankind's evolution from the far past to the distant future.
About the Author
Stephen Baxter is a trained engineer with degrees from Cambridge (mathematics) and Southampton Universities (doctorate in aeroengineering research). Baxter is the winner of the British Science Fiction Award and the Locus Award, as well as being a nominee for an Arthur C. Clarke Award, most recently for Manifold: Time. His novel Voyage won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History Novel of the Year; he also won the John W. Campbell Award and the Philip K. Dick Award for his novel The Time Ships. He is currently working on his next novel, a collaboration with Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
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