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Genesis Hardcover – February, 2000

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (February 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312867077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312867072
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,569,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Even after nearly 40 years in the biz, Poul Anderson still cranks out the imaginative sci fi like a champ, with the idea-packed Genesis--a billion-year-spanning tale involving immortal AIs and the future of Earth itself--being just another example. A decorated hard-SF veteran from the old school (think the Amazing, Analog and Omni crew from the '50s, '60s, and '70s), Anderson has got a mantle any other writer would kill for, boasting a Nebula Grand Master award, seven Hugos, and three "regular" Nebulas. (Heck, the guy's even got whippersnapper Greg Bear for a son-in-law.)

Taking on ideas that share space with Anderson's well-loved Fireball series (Harvest of Stars et al.), Genesis follows the peculiar existence of Christian Brannock and Laurinda Ashcroft, two humans who shared such affinity with machines in their mortal lives that they went on to become uploaded consciousnesses, immortal human-robot hybrids. Anderson mines even the mundanities of this situation thoroughly, but adds in enough twists in the far-future plot to start asking some really interesting questions too: when the vast supermind inhabiting posthuman Earth (mythically named Gaia) starts simulating endless replays of humanity's chaotic evolution, the time-hopping Brannock and Ashcroft--who have been tasked with investigating exactly what Gaia's been up to--find themselves struggling over the moral complexities of free will and the very nature of reality. --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

With this brilliantly conceived novel, Grand Master Anderson flings his long-time audience beyond his Starfarers and Boat of a Million Years, into a far-future extrapolation of human destiny that sings praises to the power of human love. After a long career of solar-system exploration, astronaut Christian Brannock achieves man-machine immortality by allowing his personality to be uploaded into an artificial intelligence that can probe the galaxy. Two centuries later, on the brink of Earth's next Ice Age, Laurinda Ashcroft, a human interface to Terra Central, similarly chooses to merge with the supercomputer that millions of years later becomes an element of Gaia, the Earth's artificial intelligence, itself a rebellious node of the galactic brain. As Earth's sun begins to fail, the node Wayfarer, in which Brannock's consciousness resides, must determine if humanity's mother world should be saved, though Gaia seems strangely determined to let it perish. When Wayfarer sends Christian to investigate strange hints about a secret Gaia may be hiding, Christian and Laurinda, ghostly memories of the man who went to the stars and the woman who remained on Earth, take virtual human shape, and the tender love that they find together as they probe Gaia's various alternative realities of human civilization reenacts the union of sky and earth that anchors all human mythologies. By humanizing the inhuman, Anderson comes breathtakingly close to speaking the unspeakable, the meaning of human existence. Deftly moving from one utterly convincing vignette of future human society to another, blending them into one profoundly moving fictional entity with reverence for the undying human thirst for knowledge and the pain that must accompany human achievement, Anderson's narrative soars, as unfettered as an exalting dream.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Genesis is NOT The Boat of a Million Years.
The technology described in the book (human-mind uploads, god-like computers) was interesting then, but ten years later, it's old news.
Daniel M. Bensen
Poul Anderson, one of our great science fiction writers, takes us on a journey of a billion years with this yarn.
Kevin Spoering

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Although I enjoyed the book, I did get the strong impression that the plot was very much secondary to the ideas that Poul Anderson is interested in: human nature and evolution, artificial intelligence and its evolution, free will, destiny, etc. The fate of carbon-based intelligence vs. silicon-based intelligence is a theme in many books, fiction and nonfiction, and Mr. Anderson's contribution is very readable. You might try Hans Moravec's nonfiction speculations, or Dan Simmons' Endymion Series, or Robert Jastrow's now classic "The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe" to name a few.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Worldreels on May 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I think Author pushed his own brain to the limit to create these human-like avatars of quantum chaotic celestial gods. Author says most of life processes proceed on a quantum level beyond human comprehension.. The story reminds me of Herman Hesse's GLASS BEAD GAME with the change that Galactic Brain Nodes are the players and poor human consciousness gets to be the glass beads. Poul Anderson realizes this when he says some games are beyond human words and some works beyond music. To make the incomprehensible less so the Author resorts to myth and metaphor. This doesn't work for me but Author had no other option given the outer space he was shooting for. Few writers attempt or succeed so well in finding patterns of comprehension in the swirling chaos of modern day linguistic strange attractors.
The bright human characters in this story have become too dissipated for the normal reader to relate to. The characters are all humming "is that all there is?" Who can sit shadow watching, star gazing and waiting to be uploaded or assimilated into a galactic brain? It seems a stretch that God Gaia, God Wayfarer or Alpha would get teary eyed about a human love couple but then viewers still do choke up at these Hollywood endings. Still the conflicts are excellent and the mythical metaphors exceptional. I especially appreciated that an uploaded human mind is likened to a gene in the chromosome of a galactic god. If you really enjoy far out Sci-fi, like "modulated neutrino beams" and Star Trek holodeck drama played out on the mental screens of galactic gods, don't miss GENESIS.
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Format: Hardcover
Poul Anderson's The Boat of a Million Years was a brilliant exploration of human history - past, present, and future - as told through the lives of a small group of immortal humans.

Genesis is NOT The Boat of a Million Years. It is a fairly tame and disjointed love story (what was it with Poul Anderson and love stories in his last works?) that spans billions of years of human history (and that of the AIs left by humans after they disappear).

As humans expanded into the solar system, Christian Brannock was there with his expert robotic skills necessary for the exploration of inhospitable places (like Mercury).

On Earth, humans create a central AI to take care of the Earth and its inhabitants. Lucinda Ashcroft is its liason with humans. When it is determined that all life will be at risk in 9,000 years, it is the Central AI's job to ensure that Earth survives.

A little while later, it is determined that only AIs will ever be able to explore the galaxy, and they are sent out on millions of years long exploration trips. Bored, Christian Brannock chooses to be absorbed by an AI so he travel to the stars on one of these missions. Lucinda Ashcroft is eventually absorbed by the Central AI.

Over a billion or more years, the AIs sent out to explore the galaxy become a great Galactic Brain communicating on a galactic time scale as a collective one. The Central AI on Earth, now known as Gaia, is one of the collective Galactic Brain.
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Format: Hardcover
In a genre noted for epic scope and lengthy timelines _Genesis_ by Poul Anderson really stands out. A billion years passes in the course of the novel though as one might imagine the reader does not follow along all or even most of what transpires in this setting's history.

Reminding me in some ways of another excellent novel of his, _Starfarers_, Anderson handles the huge sweep of time in the book in several ways. For many of the individuals involved, they are traveling near the speed of light and relativistic effects mean that a few years for them translates into tens of thousands of years for the outside universe.

A second way the author deals with such vast timelines is a plot device he used also in _Starfarers_; vignettes. In both books, Anderson would illustrate how human culture and history has progressed over huge amounts of time with what were basically short stories, portraits of humanity at a given place and time along the novel's continuum and as in _Starfarers_ tied in with the one of the novel's main themes.

There was a third way the billion-year time frame was handled. Unlike in _Starfarers_ most of the main characters aren't human, they were either originally human and had their memory and personality uploaded into a machine consciousness or were artificial intelligences to start with. In this setting, actual physical human beings are too fragile and too expensive to travel the stars themselves, and instead uploaded humans and artificial intelligences make the journey instead (a similar concept used in the excellent trilogy by Sean Williams and Shane Dix that began with the novel _Echoes of Earth_).
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