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Evolution Mass Market Paperback – February 3, 2004
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Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
We start at the time of the Chixculub meteorite with a small primate of the species Purgatorium and continue until far far into the future. Readers of Stapleton's Last and First Men will recognize the scope. The style is somewhat, suspiciously so actually, reminicent of the BBC television series' Walking With Dinosaurs, Beasts, and Cavemen. Professor Jack Cohen, well-known and respected, in SF circles, has helped checking the facts. The science is up to 2002 standards. The only recent thing I see missing is the connection between development of language and our loss of thick body hair (this meant that kids could no longer cling on to their mothers, and they had to develop a new way of keeping track of each other).
The rise and fall of humankind is presented in a few snapshots of more or less important moments in our development.
The author makes it clear that it is fiction by adding some highly speculative accounts of tool-using dinosaurs and giant-giant flying dinosaurs.
Baxter has some interesting ideas, like that the advent of true language (subject-verb-object) went hand in hand with the discovery of reasoning and deduction, and, incidentally, with mysticism/religion.
The book is not a brainless praise of development. The theme of the book is one of ultimate doom: when we became truly human (=discovering analysis) we also sowed the seeds of our own destruction. Baxter feels that we reached our apex during the last glaciation, when we still lived in a certain harmony with our surroundings. With the advent of agriculture the book takes on a distinctively more gloomy note. The post-apocalyptic world he describes is truly nightmarish, but, unfortunately, extremely believeable. He gives a nice touch of doom when he lets the Monolith of "2001" fame appear towards the *end* of the book.
Evolution, while it is termed a novel, is not really a novel. Critics have blasted it as a series of short stories, loosely connected. A novel has a protagonist, a theme, and a plot that creates suspense which keeps the reader turning the pages. This book has none of that. The only motivator that keeps turning the pages of Evolution is an intense interest in the subject of the book. Evolution is not really a novel, but rather speculative natural history fiction.
Some reviewers of one star on Amazon blasted Baxter for this book. They ridiculed his science, the plausibility of the events and the structure and approach of the book. I think they are missing the point. Baxter is fully aware of the fact that he sometimes picked one of several conflicting scientific theories or premises and ran with it. There is a lot of speculation on what might have happened, and what might happen in the future, but it is mostly plausible at a minimum, often surprising or startling, and sometimes outright stunning.
Spoiler warning: I am going to talk about some details that might be considered spoilers, but I don't think they will take away anything from the enjoyment of the book at all, but rather, I think they might help inspire you to pick it up and read it yourself.
The main story starts in the Jurassic period. Baxter describes what the world might have been like during the height of the reign of the dinosaurs 145 million years ago.Read more ›
Evolution is perhaps the most interesting novel I have come across concerning the fate of humanity if we stay on our current course. But, rather than offer the reader the usual, overblown apocalyptic Sci Fi novel, or beating us over the head with a righteous morality play, Evolution takes the scientific route toward offering a subtle but very effective message.
That message: We'd better begin to learn to cooperate as well as we compete or we Homo-Sapiens have already passed our prime.
Evolution begins 65 Million Years ago when the comet which ended the reign of the dinosaurs on Earth was as bright in the sky as the sun. Baxter shows us the "lifestyle" of some of the late Cretaceous reptiles & birds from the "point of view" of the first primates-mousy little fur balls which hid from the thunder lizards by burrowing underground in the forests. Baxter names each animal we encounter-again, as the primates would see them-to give us a sense of the primates' existence and "state of mind"-as simple as some of those early minds were. This interesting technique allows the reader to partly identify with what occurs to these creatures on their road to modernity. We experience what it means to be human by what it meant to be each of these creatures in an ever changing environment.
In essence, Evolution is a story of existence, adaptation, survival and extinction.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read a lot of books but this is definitely one the absolute best books I have ever read.Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
A fascinating conjecture that links evolution to a real time imagining of the complex factors that acted to develop society that to me rings true. Masterful.Published 2 months ago by Donald M. Moore
One of the best science books I've ever read. I read it to my son as well, who was 11 at the time, and he found it fascinating as well. Couldn't recommend it more highly.Published 7 months ago by Daniel Rosenberg
A stunning and ultimately heartbreaking collection of story stories that chart human evolution from the end of the Age of Dinosaurs to the death of planet Earth. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ron J.
The imagination, research and creativity that went into this book takes your breath away at times. I read this book slowly, very slowly, over months in fact because I just didn't... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Anthony R Brown
Though no expert at any level, I consider myself reasonably informed on evolution. Yet, it was reading this novel that made me realize how incredibly thin is my understanding of... Read morePublished 9 months ago by John
A remarkable book. A nice mixture of science fiction and hard science.Published 11 months ago by claudio zaror
It's nice to use Google Images to see illustrations of all the species of plant and animal mentioned in this novel. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dunning Idle
Baxter writes thoughtful science-y plots and characters are often not developed. Who cares! Great writing anyway.Published 12 months ago by mossy