EVOLUTION

Stephen Baxter, Author
Stephen Baxter, Author . Del Rey $25.95 (592p) ISBN 978-0-345-45782-0
Open Ebook - 978-0-345-45784-4
Hardcover - 576 pages - 978-0-575-07342-5
Hardcover - 576 pages - 978-0-575-07341-8
Hardcover - 658 pages - 978-0-575-08113-0
Paperback - 688 pages - 978-0-575-07409-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 645 pages - 978-0-345-45783-7
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-09754-4
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Taking a page from SF saga writers like Kim Stanley Robinson and Brian Stableford, British author Baxter (the Manifold trilogy) portrays humanity's origins, growth and ultimate disappearance in a loose-knit series of brutal vignettes spanning millions of years of evolution. Beginning with the gritty slice-of-life tale of a small, ratlike proto-primate called Purga (short for species Purgatorius), the story travels from the end of the Cretaceous through the millennia as primates slowly evolve into creatures more and more recognizably human, learning to make and use tools, developing language and the ability to feel empathy—the trait that Baxter selects as definitive of true humanity. Resonating with that theme, the vignettes are linked by a thin near-future frame about scientists meeting in the midst of ecological and political chaos to find a way to save humanity from itself through the "globalization of empathy." 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, which (despite a tendency toward preachiness) clearly has humanity's best interests at heart. 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. (Feb.)

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