Read Evolution by Stephen Baxter Online


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 yearsStretching 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, there 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?...

Title : Evolution
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345457837
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 646 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Evolution Reviews

  • Patrick
    2019-03-10 00:57

    I had put off reading this book for years because, while I've enjoyed many of Stephen Baxter's novels, the idea of wading through 750 pages of the story of human evolution narrated by anthropomorphised primates really didn't appeal. The ape-creatures in the last and weakest part of his Time/Space/Origin trilogy had put me off.My bad. This is really nothing less than a story of how we became human, of nature red in tooth and claw. It's a story of short and brutal lives, of disease, murder, rape and war, and yet at the same time, for me at least (and I can understand how this would not be a universal reaction) it was curiously uplifting. Beginning 65 million years ago with a small rat-like primate through whose eyes we see the aftermath of the asteroid impact which (in Baxter's universe at least) wiped out the dinosaurs, the book moves us slowly towards the present day. Even the bits which ought not to have worked – the flights of fancy in which Baxter speculates about dinosaurs surviving in the Antarctic until 10 million years BCE and the enormous pterosaurs with the 100 metre wingspans, I thought actually worked well, not least in driving home how incomplete the fossil record is, and how much we do not and cannot ever know (though one has to read carefully to be sure what he is making up and what is based on sound science – passing references to animals that left no traces being the only clues in places).Other highlights? The woman who runs away from the hunter-gatherer community in which she grew up to escape the inevitable forced infanticide of her child, stumbling into one of humanity's earliest towns, the story of the monkeys that somehow survived a crossing of the Atlantic on a fallen tree and populating South America, the tale of an encounter between two human children and one of the very last surviving Neanderthals and the three characters hunting for fossil bones amidst the crumbling ruins of the late Roman Empire.Another move I was sceptical about until I read it was the decision to extend the story into the future. Baxter does deep time about as well as any author I've read and for all that it moves the story from scientifically grounded narrative to speculation, it helps to emphasise that we are merely one small part of a much longer and bigger story, not the culmination of some great master-plan. That millions of years from now, our distant descendants might easily be as different from us as we are from our dinosaur-age ancestors and that rather than being impossibly advanced hyper-intelligent beings colonising the galaxy, they might revert to a simpler way of life. Even his explanation of how human civilisation ends emphasises that we are prey to powerful forces that we cannot control. What does for humanity is not nuclear war, global warming or a deadly virus grown in a laboratory, but an enormous super-volcano that disrupts the planet's weather systems enough to cause civilisation to collapse. A big book, and one stuffed with enough ideas to fill several novels.

  • Peter Pier
    2019-02-24 04:48

    THIS is LIFE. Anybody interested in the WHY at all should read this book. Baxter excells himself by describing the roots of humanity, and the hardship of our ancestors on the way obtaining self-awareness.I haven´t seen anything better regarding the origins of intelligence. You will recognize the chapter(s).Absolutely recommended!

  • Andrew
    2019-03-04 04:36

    This is a series of episodes illustrating critical (if imagined) chapters in primate evolution. It begins with a story about a primordial primate living underfoot while dinosaurs are stomping around, works its way up to a brief episode about modern humans, and then immediately wipes out the human race and moves forward. The pre-human episodes are meant to conform very closely to the fossil record. Indeed, when indulging in more extreme flights of fancy, Baxter provides explanatory bits as to why it's at least possible that his speculations are consistent with current understandings. I found the later (post-human) episodes less believable, although entertainingly imaginative. Baxter leans very heavily on themes which are important and seldom considered: That the process of evolution is brutal, painful, and uncaring; that its outcomes are arbitrary; that sexual drives and sexual conflict are at the root of every origin. He presents all his subjects with the same tight focus and tries to narrate from within the head of even his most primitive characters. This has left me, months later, with an altered perspective about the mice and squirrels that live under /my/ feet. In that respect I'd say that this book was extremely effective, although perhaps not in the way that was intended.

  • Bryan
    2019-03-12 01:57

    Worthwhile: I received this book as a gift and did not have high expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. Baxter manages to novelise very effectively the course of evolution through billions of years, which is no mean achievement. The book is fact-based, though of necessity it does spin some extravagant speculation from those facts, and in a few places those speculations are less than convincing, such as the prehistoric Neanderthal shanty town outside the Homo Sapiens village. Baxter writes about science in a very eloquent and engaging way. Where he consistently shows weakness is when he is writing dialogue. This led me to skip through the stilted Roman chapter. That said, the later chapter about the British soldiers in an empty future England was quite haunting, and I really liked the way he consistently found low-key but satisfying conclusions to the various evolutionary vignettes. A book that geniunely throws fresh perspective on the evolution of life. I'm glad I read it.

  • Lis Carey
    2019-03-12 05:51

    In the musical 1776, Col. Thomas McKean says of General Washington's reports from the field, reporting everything that's gone wrong since the last report, "That man could depress a hyena." This seems to be a fair comment on many of Baxter's books, and Evolution is no exception.Spoilers ahead.The frame story concerns Joan Useb, a paleontologist who, in 2031, has organized a major interdisciplinary conference with the covert goal of sparking a movement to do something effective about saving the biosphere. The only amusement to be found in the frame story are the nasty Tuckerizations of two well-known British fans, Gregory Pickersgill and Alison Scott. Pickersgill is a radical anti-globalization activist, the charismatic leader of a splinter Christian sect, the core around which the umbrella organization "Fourth World" has formed. (Or so it is believed. It turns out that Pickersgill doesn't exist; he's just a cover identity for someone even more extreme and unpleasant.) Alison Scott at least gets to exist; she's a genetic engineer who sells her services to the very wealthy, to give their children advantages rather than curing disease. She's so focussed on money and showmanship that she even uses her own offspring as walking advertisements for what she can do for your next child, if you can pay enough.The main body of the book is better. It's necessarily episodic, covering the evolution of primates from a rodent-like creature during and after the last days of the dinosaurs, through a monkey-like creature 500 million years from now that's fully symbiotic with a tree. "Fully symbiotic," in this case, means that the Tree provides a good deal more than shelter. It produces a specialized root that attaches to the bellies of these last primates, providing not just nourishment and psychotropic drugs, but genetic mixing and control of reproduction. The primates in return bring nutrients to the Tree that it can't obtain otherwise, and carry its seeds to favorable ground. Along the way, Baxter does some interesting things, imagining plausible forms that aren't represented in the necessarily patchy fossil record, such as an elaborate dinosaurs-and-primates ecology in Antarctica, fifty-five million years after the presumed extinction of the dinosaurs--an ecology first frozen into extinction and then ground up beyond the possibility of fossilization by the advancing icecap. This is an utterly grim extinction event, of course, with all the species dying out entirely rather than evolving into something else, but that's Baxter for you.As exemplified by the dinosaurs and primates in Antarctica sequence, Baxter does not confine himself solely to the direct line of descent from little Purgatorius to humans. We also get to see the hypothetical, but plausible, harrowing adventure of the monkey-like critters that get accidentally rafted across the Atlantic to become the ancestors of the monkeys of South America, and other plausible but unrecorded species.Eventually, though, we do get to the more or less direct and recent ancestors of humans--the first ape to lead his troop ou t onto the African savannah as the forests shrink, homo erectus, neanderthals, Cro-Magnon, early civilized humans. Amongst the neanderthals, we get a story that is at once encouraging and grim: a little band of neanderthals, led by a man called Pebble, st ruggling to survive, forms an alliance with a pair of wandering almost-Cro-Magnon, Harpoon and Ko-Ko. First they trade, then they learn some of each other's best tricks, then they combine their efforts to cross over to an island, wipe out the remnant of homo erectus living there, and seize it for themselves. Baxter does depict the two kinds as mutually fertile, which I think is currently not the opinion of scientists, but that's a minor point, considering that opinion on that has changed more than once.Once we get to unambiguously modern humans, though, we're in trouble. It's good (I think) that Baxter makes the point that primitive humans who believed they were living in harmony with nature actually did a devasting job on their prey species. There's some amusement value in reading the description of the First Fan:"She had always been isolated, even as a child. She could not throw herself into the games of chase and wrestling and chattering that the other youngsters had indulged in, or their adolescent sexual experiments. It was always as if the others knew how to behave, what do do, how to laugh and cry--how to fit in, a mystery she could never share. Her restless inventiveness in such a conservative culture--and her habit of trying to figure out why things happened, how they worked--didn't make her any more popular." (page 292)Alas, this woman, Mother, who invents conscious thought as a tool for something other than social interaction, and consequently invents a variety of other useful tools (in a reversal of the old depiction of men inventing tools almost certainly invented and used by women, who did most of the foraging and gathering, Baxter has Mother invent the spear-thrower, something far more likely to have been invented by the men who did most of the hunting) becomes obsessively fixated on the death of her son, invents gods, religion, life after death, black magic, and human sacrifice. Baxter assigns the whole thing to one emotionally unbalanced woman, and portrays it all in relentlessly negative terms, even while conceding that this nasty invention caught on and survived because it conveyed survival benefits to its adopters. It's all downhill from there, as far as human character goes. On page 322, we're told:"And just as they were able to believe that things, weapons or animals or the sky, were in some way people, it wasn't a hard leap to make to believe that some people were no more than things. The old categories had broken down. In attacking the river folk they werent killing humans, people like themselves. The river folk, for all their technical cleverness with fire and clay, had no such belief. It was a weapon they could not match. And this small but vicious conflict set a pattern that would be repeated again and again in the long, bloody ages to come. And there it is, folks, the roots of the Holocaust right there at the dawn of civilization, with the invention of religion."The problem with this is that Baxter has already shown us repeatedly, in earlier episodes in the Evolution of Humans, that it's nonsense. Time and again he has shown us early hominids and pre-hominids regarding strangers of same or similar species as creatures to be killed. Over and over again the men, the boys, and sometimes even the young girls are killed, and maybe the adult or near-adult females are kept for breeding purposes. The great mental breakthrough that Pebble and Harpoon made, in the early morning of genus Homo, was the possibility of active cooperation with other bands. The great mental breakthrough Harpoon's ancestors had made, back at the very dawn of genus Homo, was the invention of trade as a possible means of relating to humans from other bands.And what's striking and different about raids that Mother's followers make on other bands, is not that they kill most of the members of the band. The thing Mother's followers do that's different is that first, they make peaceful contact with the band to find out what neat new technology they have, and then, when they do attack, they spare not only the adult and near-adult females, but also some of the adult males, the ones who are the experts in the most interesting bits of new technology that the target band has. What's different about Mother's followers is not that they have found a way to regard other people as things, but that they have found reasons other than sexual exploitation to forcibly add people to their band rather than kill them. For Mother's people, other people are useful or dangerous precisely because they are people, with knowledge and skills of their own, rather than just rival animals competing for the same resources. What makes them more dangerous is not that they have new talent for dehumanizing other people (earlier varieties of hominid didn't need to dehumanize people because it never occurred to them that hominids not members of their own band were people), but the fact that their killing technology gets a lot better.Eventually , of course, we catch up to the frame story, and the downfall of Homo sapiens without ever having gotten humans even as far as Mars. After all, how could such a loser species do anything really grand? Post-collapse, it apparently takes only a thousand years or so for humans to completely lose the power of speech. An interesting detail from this point on is that Baxter, who never used the words "man" and "woman" to describe males and females of primate species until he got to genus Homo, does not stop using it as he describes the steadily more primitive and degraded post-Homo varieties of primate. Thus we have a primate evolved to live pretty much exactly like a naked mole rat, referred to as "mole woman," but only after Baxter has gone to great lengths to emphasize the fact that these "mole folk" have no higher consiousness at all, and virtually no brains.All in all, it's a depressing, negative view of humans and evolution, and evidently intended to be. Avoid this one.

  • Linda
    2019-02-24 07:42

    This is kind of different. It doesn't have a plot. It's essentially a series of short stories about the lives of various creatures on the evolutionary path to modern humans and beyond. Said that way, it doesn't sound very interesting but it kept my attention through all 800+ pages.

  • Anna Erishkigal
    2019-02-24 07:53

    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

  • Ethan
    2019-03-08 07:32

    Having read Baxter's Manifold: Time, I wasn't expecting much characterization or plot (as is the case in much "hard sci-fi"). Strangely, some of the non-human characters of Evolution were a lot more real than some of the human ones (If you liked the squid in Manifold:Time, you'll probably like Evolution). The book is longer than it had to be, but the 15 or so stories were mostly worthwhile. At times the "genes working to survive" theme was too explicit and overdone (let the reader's intelligence do *some* work!) and was more like reading Richard Dawkins than reading a novel, but overall this was an engrossing and educational fictionalization of evolutionary history. I liked the speculative parts (which is why one should read sci-fi, after all!): the air-whales, intelligent dinosaurs, post-human descendents and especially the self-replicating robots on Mars, which provided a nice counter-point to the story on Earth while strengthening the overall theme of evolution. If you think evolution is the slightest bit interesting and have a bit of imagination, I'd recommend this book.

  • Nawar Youssef
    2019-02-23 05:29

    كتاب رائع يجب أن يقرأ من الجميع فهو قد يساعد على توسيع حيز القبول لعلم التطور في عقول بعض الناس غير القادرة بعد على استعاب الأمر. تغيرت أفكاري حول تصنيف هذا الكتاب بتغير فصوله، اعتقدت في بادء الأمر إنه رواية لكن بدلت رأيي على إنه كتاب علوم مخصص بعلم التطور، و من ثم كتاب تاريخ يتحدث عن تاريخ الحياة بشكل عام و تاريخ الانسان بشكل خاص و لكني غيرت رأي مرة اخرى لاجده عبارة عن كتاب خيال علمي مميز، قبل أن أعود إلى الرأي الأول على إنه رواية. لكنه رواية تضم كل ما سبق من معلومات و متعة و تشوييق و خيال جميعها مكتوبة بطريقة جيدة و قد تكون رائعة في بعض الفصول. أما و لمن يجده طويل (800 صفحة) يمكن لهذا الكتاب أن يقرء على قسمين: عصور قبل وجود "البشر" و العصور "البشرية" و ما بعدها، على أنه يفضل أن لا يفصل بينهما أكثر من عدة أيام.وجود كثير من أسماء الشخصيات المتغيرة مع كل فصل جديد قد يكون أمراً مزعج و لكن لا بد من ذلك لانها رواية تتكلم عن ملايين و ملايين من السنين. أيضاً لم تعجبني طريقة ترجمة بعض الفقرات -و هي قليلة نسبياً- لم تفقد معناها في معظمها لكن كانت مشتتة لعملية القراءة.

  • Al-waleed Kerdie
    2019-03-07 06:29

    ملحمة روائية حقيقية تقع في 800 صفحة, تسير بنا بالرحلة التطورية للحياة على الكرة الأرضية و التغيرات الجيولوجية التي شهدتها بالإضافة للتتغيرات الكوزمولوجية التي رافقت الحياة على الأرض, رواية رائعة تنتقل بنا بشغف من بدايات التكون الأحيائي على الأرض مرورا بمذنب شيكشولوب الذي ضرب الأرض قبل 65 مليون عام و قضى على أكتر من 70 بالمئة من الانواع الحية, رحلة تنتهي بمستقبل الحياة على الأرض بعد حوالي 500 مليون, لن أذكر تفاصيل أخرى حتى لا أحرق الرواية لمن يرغب بقرائتها

  • Mohamed El-Mahallawy
    2019-03-25 02:39

    الخمس نجمات ليس لأنه أقنعني بالتطور ولا أنه شرح لي ما غاب قبلاً ..الخمس نجمات للخيال الروائي الغير مقيد والغير محدود أبداً الذي يمتلك باكستر ...علميا ، هناك العديد من السقطات الغير منطقية وغيرها والكاتب نفسه يعترف أن الموضوع الذي كتبه ليس علميا بدرجة مائة في المائة ..لكن خياله في الكتابة والتفكر مُطلق .. يُحسد عليه

  • علي حسين
    2019-03-02 04:41

    "التطور" ملحمة ستيفن باكستر الروائية ، تقع في ٧٨٦ صفحة ، تستند على رؤى علمية عن نظرية التطور و الانتخاب الطبيعي .يصف فيها باكستر سلسلة تطور الانسان بداية من اولى الثديات البدائية الضعيفة التي سكنت الارض منذ ٦٥ مليون سنة (العصر الطباشيري) حيث كانت (بانجيا) القارة الام الاولى و الوحيدة على الارض .يمنح باكستر كل مقطع زمني من تاريخ التطور جزءا في روايته ، و يلخص كل نوع من الحيوانات في سلسلة تطور الانسان في كائن واحد يمنحه اسما من اجل المحاكاة الرمزية .فأول كائن في الرواية هو (برجا) ، انثى برجاتوريص ، عاشت في العصر الطباشيري ، ٦٥ مليون سنةتشبه الجرذان لكنها كبيرة . عاشت مع الديناصورات قبل أن تنقرض و قاومت شتى الظروف من اجل البقاء ، و من برجا سيأتي البشر .٢. (بليسي) انثى بليسيادبيد ، من نسل برجا ، تشبه السنجاب ، عاشت ما بعد سقوط مذنب ذيل الشيطان (تشيكوشولوب) ، الحدث الهام الذي ادى الى انقراض اعداد هائلة من الكائنات في طليعتها الحوت الطائر و الديناصورات و الزواحف ، قبل ٦٣ مليون تقريبا .٣. (نوث) ذكر من نوع نوثركتوس ، فصيلة الادابيد .. ٥٧ مليون سنة ، يشبه القرود الهندية ، لكنه ليس قردا .تمتاز بوجود المخالب .٤. (رومر) انثى من اصناف الرئيسييات ال أنثروبويد ، و هي من اسلاف القردة عديمة الذيل مثل الشمبانزي و الغوريلا .تمتاز رومر باستبدال المخالب بالاظافر ، و عيونها التي ترى بثلاث ابعاد ، و اعتمادها على البصر بدلا من الشم في غذائها و حياتها.٥. (كابو) كائن يشبه الشمبانزي ، لكن ليس هناك شمبانزي بعد .. منذ ٥ ملايين سنة .. و هو جد الجنس البشري .٦. (فار) قبل ١.٥ مليون .. و هو من الهومينيد Hominid (شبيه الانسان) .. كائنات اشبه بالانسان من حيث الشكل ، لكن وعيها محدود ، فعقول كبار الهومينيد تعادل في تعقيدها انسانا في الخامسة من عمره .. كانت كائنات واقفة ، تستعمل الفؤوس ، و قادرة على اصدار بعض الكلمات كلغة ٧. (ببل) كينيا ، ١٢٧ الف سنة قبل الان ، و هو الانسان النياندرثال ، امتاز بالقوة و صغر حجم الدماغ .. عاش في الكهوف و تزاوج مع انثى هومينيد من نوع اذكى منه فانتجوا جيلا متوسطا في القوة و الذكاء .امتازت هذه المرحلة بالقتل و الهمجية بين اقوام الهومينيد ، و تم فيها ابتكار و اكتشاف بعض الاسلحة والادوات كالانتقال في البحيرات باستخدام الجذوع ، و استخدام النار في الطهي ، فاصبحت جذور اسنانهم اصغر حجما .شهدت هذه الفترة اولى عمليات التبادل التجاري ، المقايضة ، و تطورت علاقات الهومينيد بسبب المقايضة .٩. (ماذر) ٦٠ الف سنة قبل الان ، الصحراء الكبرى ، شمال افريقيا ، ام البشر .و هي تشبه البشر الحاليين كثيرا من ناحية الوجه و الاستقامة و بقية تفاصيل الجسم ، كالارداف الممتلئة للتكيف مع فترات الجفاف الطويلة التي تتطلب تخزين المياه في الدهون .و هي ذات عقلية متطورة ، قادرة على الكشف عن العلاقات السببية ، و استخدام اللغة ، لكن هذا التطور جلب لها نوعا من الشك القهري .و كانت دائما مصابة بانواع آلام الرأس المختلفة ، كالصداع النصفي و غيرها ، هذه الالام كانت ضريبة لتطور دماغها .استخدمت ماذر الشباك و النصل في الصيد .كانت فترة ماذر بداية تكون العشيرة ، حيث يجتمع الافراد و يرتحلون بحثا عن الطعام .١٠. الاخوان (إجان و تور) في شبه جزيرة اندونيسيا منذ قرابة ٥٢ الف سنة ، و هما من سلالات هاجرت من افريقيا الى اسيا و شتى انحاء المعمورة . في عصرهم تطورت اللغة و الثقافة بسرعة و اصبحتا اكثر تعقيدا .هاجر البشر من اسيا الى استراليا بواسطة الزوارق عند هذه الفترة بالتحديد .بعد هذا ياخذنا باكستر في سلسلة من الشخصيات في ازمان مختلفة يشرح فيها كيف تكونت انماط الثقافات البدائية للانسان ، فالشامان مثلا هو دين بدائي غايته العلاج ، يستخدم فيه الشامانويون السحر و طرق اخرى في علاج المرضى .ثم تتكشف اولى انتقالات طرق العيش من الاعتماد على الصيد الى الاعتماد على الزراعة و رعي الحيوانات شارحا كيف مارس البشر في عصور ما قبل التاريخ انتقاء للانواع المفضلة للانسان دون وعي منهم .كان ذلك قبل ٩٠٠٠ سنة تقريبا في بلاد الاناظول .بعدها ياخذنا باكسر في قصص مختلفة تروي صفات و ملامح عصور مختلفة من تاريخ الانسان الحديث وصولا الى فترة سيادة روما بعد ميلاد المسيح .ينتقل بعدها الى فترات مستقبلية مفترظة ، واصفا فيها ما سيحدث للبشر بعد عشرات السنين من الان ، بل بعد ٥٠٠ مليون سنة !. ..الرواية ليست مرجعا علميا كما قال باكستر نفسه ، لكنها طريقة فنية ترسم لوحة للتاريخ التطوري للانسان .ما يعاب على الراوي هو الاسهاب الممل جدا ، و التطرق الى مواضيع غير مهمة كثيرة ، فقد كان ممكنا أن تكتب هذه الرواية ب ٣٠٠ صفحة بدلا من ٧٨٦ !.و لعل هذا الخلل هو ما جعل قراءة الرواية عملا مجهدا و صعبا للغاية .

  • Michael
    2019-03-10 00:34

    A good book but about 100 pages too long. The author dramatized mammalian evolution from the time of the dinosaurs until a future hundreds of millions of years from now. Having watched Cosmos this summer, I have been thinking about the incomprehensible spans of time that have passed since the formation of the universe, and since life began on this planet. Evolution serves as a reminder of just how brief our species' time in the sun really has been, and what remarkable arrogance human beings display when trying to explain the cosmos to each other. Climate change, volcanoes, asteroids and comets...over the history of our world, these events have hit the reset button over and over again. Hundreds of thousands of species have come into being, thrived, then vanished into oblivion. We are no different. In the eyes of earth, we are a minor flash in the pan. In the eyes of the cosmos, we are less than a speck of dust. And when we are gone..."there will come soft rains..."A good and troubling book. Bleak, I guess, but honest. I was struck by how much of what I was reading about I had learned in college--astronomy, biology, evolution, etc.--but then forgot because they are not things that I really think about on a day to day basis. Science keeps me very humble.

  • Repix
    2019-03-20 03:29

    Me ha encantado. Entiendo que no es un libro para todo el mundo porque son cientos de datos de biología y paleontología, pero la forma novelada de contar la evolución de nuestra especie y del planeta Tierra en general, desde el principio de los tiempos y hasta más allá, es maravillosa y nada tediosa. Un gran descubrimiento.

  • Stewart Tame
    2019-02-28 01:32

    This book reminded me in many ways of those Walking With Dinosaurs TV shows. The book is broken up into sections, each set in a different era. So we focus on an early mammal here, a proto-hominid there, and generally span a huge chunk of our planet's history, from the earliest mammals to a distant, speculative future and the eventual extinction of all life. One might almost say that evolution itself is the protagonist of this novel. And it is as novel, not a textbook. Parts of it are pure speculation, though all based on the soundest and latest scientific discoveries, as good SF should be. I've read my share of epic novels, great sprawling timelines full of sweep and scope, but I think Evolution may represent the single greatest timeframe of any that I've read. I found it to be a fascinating and engrossing read.

  • Lithodid-man
    2019-03-13 05:59

    I really loved this book. This is a phenomenal look into the history and potential future of our species. While science fiction, is based on sound principles and a good knowledge of real human prehistory. I made this book required reading for a course I taught, Introduction to Human Evolution. This raised more than a few eyebrows. My reason for this was that he illustrates some of the more important yet lesser known aspects of evolution and human biology. I noticed one reviewer found the 'devolution' of humans in the future to be implausible. This here is exactly one of the misconceptions of evolution I wished my students to read and discuss (evolution is not some upward march of progress, big brains are suitable now but may not be the optimal solution for the future).

  • Dirk
    2019-03-24 06:33

    A great read -not in the least for its 762 pages- taking you from 145 Million years ago (chapter two) to 500 Million years in the future. It describes, in speculative fiction way, the upcoming and downfall of Man. From sentient dinosaurs to sentient trees. It is not -as the author himself says in the afterword- a textbook, but a plausable grand story of human evolution, in the vein of Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men

  • Cobalt
    2019-03-09 03:40

    This book is the clearest understanding I have ever had on the eons-long process of evolution, told in a fascinating novel from each creature's point of view from millions of years ago. I couldn't put this book down! The amazing settings bring each geologic age to life again, as it was when it happened. This author must have a prodigious science background and great imagination. This book is perfect for anyone with an interest in ancient and pre-historic history, geology, geography and sociology.

  • Laura
    2019-02-25 03:41

    Traces that river of DNA out of Eden and into the dry sands. I don't think of myself as a human chauvinist, and yet I mourned when that last individual manifestation of DNA that was recognizably human slipped back into the churning evolutionary waters. A powerful and unsettling meditation on cooperation, competition and change. Well worth the time.

  • Flowkclab
    2019-03-09 01:40

    One of my favorite books (if not my favorite)! I am fascinated by evolution and history in general and evolution itself could be considered to be the main character of this book. Of course, this book is fiction, but it takes your imagination to what could very well have happened between 65 million years ago an now, and what could happen between now and 500 million years in the future.

  • Pierre
    2019-02-27 00:50

    هذه هي روعة هذه النظرة إلى الحياة....فمن بدايات بسيطة تطورت - و ما زالت تتطور– أشكال بارعة الجمال لا حصر لها. تشارلز داروين----ملحمة ماراثونية جميلة تحكي قصة تطور و تنوع الحياة على كوكبنا، تجمع بين الواقع و العلم و الزمن و الخيال.

  • Gregory
    2019-02-28 08:55

    wow, such beautiful writing and a wonderfully accurate rendition of prehistory, which puts this book in an undoubtedly hard sci fi genre.

  • Yael
    2019-03-06 06:50

    When telling the stories of individuals and peoples, there are three questions the story must deal with: 1) Where did we come from? 2) Where are we going? and 3) What will become of us? In Evolution, Stephen Baxter tells the story of humankind itelf, ranging from humanity's nraw beginnings in Purga the Purgatorius, dancing around the feet of dinosaurs and just barely surviving the comet-strike on the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago; to paleontologist Joan Usub, on her way to participate in a conference of scientists with the hope that the results of that conference will save the world, in 2031 AD; to the life and death of Ultimate, Purga's last descendant, on a dying Earth half a billion years uin our future; with a side-trip to the ornitholestes Listener, a technologically sophisticated and intellectually gifted bipedal dinosaur, 145 years ago, in the depths of the Jurassic Period of the Mesozoic Era of Earthly life. Throughout he describes the likely and possible evolution of consciousness, intellectual capacities, and cultural creativity of the primate line leading to us and beyond us into an unknowable future.As Baxter himself says inn the Afterword to the novel, here he has tried to dramatize the story of human evolution, not define it. Hoping that his story is plausible, he nevertheless cautions that it should not be read as a textbook. He bases much of it on reconstructions of the past by experts in various fields, choosing what seemed to him the most plausible or exciting idea among competing scientific proposals. But, as he says, much of the story is based simply on his own speculations.The resulting story is a vivid, sometimes heart-wrenching, often dazzling complexity and poetic depth. No, it shouldn't be read as a textbook -- but read alongside the textbooks on paleontology, paleobiology, paleoecology, and astrobiology I've been studying over the years, it adds a profound depth and almost musical richness to the story not only of humanity, but of life itself that illuminates the textbook studies with a blazing, vividlly colored brilliance and beauty that places the reader him- or herself in the midst of the story of life, letting us identify with the various life-forms described in our studies and thereby come to know that we are truly one with all life on Earth, and always will be. A glorious literary feast, indeed.

  • Ameen Khaled
    2019-02-26 02:56

    how brilliant and illuminating this novel is .to see a beautiful painting you have to take some steps backwards , so that you can get the whole surface , you will not get any beauty or ideas from concentrating on the small details .it is astonishing to realize how tiny we are , how short our lives are compared to life of the questions that confused our kind from the beginning of conscious is who we are , why are we here , where are we going to , I thought about this alot and alot of time ,since my childhood , I asked a lot of questions , none of the answers were satisfying , until i began to read -in general not this novel- and some answers have begun to appear , of course it is way too far from the complete answer , but it is good enough to know we are on our way .we are animals ,just one kind of the lot of the beings that live on the surface on this planet , our life's goal is to survive and multiply , all this civilization , relations , inventions are only to help us survive , the morals and religions themselves are just to organize a society where we would have more chances of living .but we are not as intelligent as we think , we are leading ourselves to the end , we cant see the whole picture yet , we are looking under our feet , and life will not care how smart and advanced we are , as long as we think that we are masters of this universe and treat it like with such ignorance , as long as we dont realize our place as a Participant in this huge world , we will not stay for long time ahead , our existence here is not permanent , we should cooperate with the surroundings in order to survive , right now we are not aware of the true challenges ahead from us , but we are fighting each other for useless reasons , we are abusing our world in the worst way ever , we are not listening to the voices that try to advice us and direct us to the right way , i believe our end is closer than we think , our only way out is to put politicians away and bring scientists to the front .

  • Fuzzball Baggins
    2019-03-06 06:39

    That was super interesting. The last few human chapters dragged on, but I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn about human evolution or who just wants to expand their mind by reading something different from the usual.

  • Tom
    2019-03-09 05:57

    Nasty, brutish, long.The story of human evolution from 65my in the past to 500my in the future.First, it's poorly written. Frequently I found myself stopping and editing sentences and whole paragraphs as I went along, immersion breaking to say the least and it turns reading into a chore.Like many sf writers Baxter's best work is in his short stories - Vaccuum Diagrams is excelent 'hard' sci-fi - the format forces an economy of expression. 'Evolution' is bloated. Everything is explicitly told to us (I've done some research let me tell you about it!), the reader is given little credit, the results are patronising and didactic. The book's high points are when Baxter frees himself from the fossil record and engages in flights of fancy: Dinosaur hunters! Giant air whales! Otherwise too much rape and murder. Repetitive and, I thought, callously written. Yeah I get it, life is tough.Oh, and don't get me started on the 'characters' in the sentient human parts of the book, embarrassingly bad; walking political cartoons. On the back of my edition it says "deserves comarison with Stapledon's Last and First men" the comparison it deserves is "much much worse than Stapledon's Last and First Men"

  • Broodingferret
    2019-03-11 04:36

    I approached this novel with some trepidation, as the concept of dramatizing humanity’s evolution down through the ages sounded like something that might be way too dry to be entertaining. It did, however, come highly recommended, so I cracked it open and was pleasantly surprised by how engaging the stories were (it’s essentially a collection of short stories tied together by theme, given that the book stretches across hundreds of millions of years). Most of the novel is set in the past, with the last few chapters postulating a far-flung posthuman future and a handful of ‘intermission’ chapters that are set in the modern day, and the saga that unfolds within its pages is well-managed, as Baxter handles both sweeping geological timescales and smaller, personal stories with equal aplomb. He even manages to make the lives and experiences of prehistoric primates easily relatable to a modern mind. Baxter does get just a smidge preachy near the end as regards climate change and such, but he manages it in an almost off-hand manner that doesn’t detract too terribly from the entertainment value of the story. This novel is an excellent example of a risky concept that was very well-executed.

  • Paul McFadyen
    2019-03-05 05:36

    Like most of Baxter's work, the plots and characters are thinly sketched devices, to convey the big picture of whatever ideas that he wants to illustrate - in this particular book, the theme is the adaptability of life on earth and the circumstances that lead to the rise (and fall) of the primates.It's interesting to see the moment at which Baxter sees mankind veer off from being merely the first amongst equals of the animal kingdom and it's clear he sees this development as the tipping-point for us ever having a sustainable eco-system around us - you may want to read this, so I won't reveal it, other than to note that it doesn't occur when I initially expected it.Overall, an interesting read, as long as you don't expect to fall for the chracters or become engorssed in their lives - you'll never get that with this author, but if you want to learn about world eco-history without picking up a dry text book, it's worth a spin.

  • Jack Pramitte
    2019-03-25 04:56

    L'histoire du genre humain de 65 millions d'années avant maintenant à 500 millions d'années après. Un (très long) roman magistral construit comme une succession de nouvelles à des époques séparées par des millions d'années.Ça démarre avec Purga, une purgatorius (une sorte de rat avec une petite queue d'écureuil) qui assiste à l'écrasement de la comète qui mit fin au règne des dinosaures, sa lutte pour la survie, sa recherche d'un nouveau compagnon. C'est grâce à sa ténacité que nous sommes ici.Même si l'Histoire c'est souvent répétitif, je trouve que Baxter réussit magnifiquement bien à instruire (en expliquant les mécanismes de l'évolution, en montrant comment phénomènes astronomiques, dérive des continents, climat, écologie, et évolution sont liés) et à émouvoir par la même occasion par ces nouvelles qui sont autant de drames et d'étapes jusqu'à nous. Aussi, il remet l'Homme à sa place dans l'Histoire.Un texte que je ne suis pas prêt d'oublier.

  • Kate
    2019-02-25 00:34

    First up, I have to confess that I didn't actually finish this book. I ran out of enthuasiam at about page 350. While I did enjoy the read, I found it hard to keep coming back witht the constant change of characters and places. The start of the book is also quite graphic - very "nature red in tooth and claw". It's a constant barrage of things being eaten, maimed, abducted and killed. When he starts writing the hominid sections it calms down a bit.From a science perspective the book is pretty dangerous. I've studied palaeontology, so I can see pretty clearly where Baxter is writing off scientific knowledge or theory, and where he's off in his own imagination. But I'm not sure that others could, and that makes for some rather bad science communication. So... I'd suggest that if you're interested in the subject area - evolution of mammals - give it a go. Otherwise, it's not everyone's cup of tea.