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Evolution (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 14 Aug 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (14 Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575074094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575074095
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 5.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Baxter is the pre-eminent SF writer of his generation. Published around the world he has also won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton. He lives in Northumberland with his wife.

Here are the Destiny's Children novels in series order:


Time's Tapestry novels in series order:

Navigator Weaver

Flood novels:


Time Odyssey series (with Arthur C Clarke):

Time's Eye

Manifold series:

Phase Space

Mammoth series:

Mammoth (aka Silverhair)
Long Tusk
Ice Bones

NASA trilogy:


Xeelee sequence:

Timelike Infinity
Vacuum Diagrams (linked short stories)
The Xeelee Omnibus (Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux, Ring)

The Web series for Young Adults:


Coming in 2010:

Stone Spring - book one of the Northland series

Product Description

Amazon Review

In Evolution, Stephen Baxter explores deep time to dramatise the story of Earth's evolving primates--from tiny shrew-like creatures dodging reptilian predators in the Cretaceous era, to humans of the 21st century and beyond.

The long drama starts with a bang: the Chicxlub meteor impact 65 million years ago--the dinosaur killer--bringing a holocaust of extinctions. Baxter describes that apocalyptic strike and aftermath in lurid, compelling detail.

By now the crater was a glowing bowl of shining, boiling impact melt, wide enough to have engulfed the Los Angeles area from Santa Barbara to Long Beach. And its depth was four times the height of Everest, its lip further above its floor than the tracks of supersonic planes above Earth's surface.

This book's hero is evolution itself, shaping surviving pre-humans into tree dwellers, remoulding a group that drifts from Africa to a (then closer) New World on a raft of debris, confronting others with a terrible dead end as ice clamps down on Antarctica. Elsewhere the river of DNA runs on, and ape-like creatures in North Africa are forced out of dwindling forests to stumble across grasslands where their distant descendants will joyously run.

Although the episodes resonate with one another, each is a separate triumph or tragedy whose early protagonists are uncomprehending animals ("He knew on a deep cellular level that..."). Darwin's imperatives force their successors to grapple with self-awareness, consciousness, memory, abstract thought. Tools emerge, and art, and language. One troubled genius of 60,000 years ago is seen inventing a theory of magic in hope of understanding and controlling the environment--and her contemporaries. Her reward is to become "the first person in all human history to have a name."

The story continues, and the apparent framing narrative--about a last-ditch global conference hoping to solve the ecological nightmares of 2031--is not the end. Baxter's final snapshot is 500 million years in our future....

Enormously ambitious in scope, Evolution shows the whole sweep and precariousness of pre-human and human development. We are so lucky to be here--although, as Baxter makes it clear, the luck may be running out. --David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Here's what The Times had to say about Evolution: 'One of the greatest mythsof all must be the origin of the human species itself. Stephen Baxter chronicles the epic survival of the mammalian family that ultimately ends up with us, in Evolution. The sheer timescale makes a great story that is panoramic inextent. I felt I was watching Walking with Beasts rolled into The Human Journey. Baxter's ability to turn science into exciting readable fiction - something my physics teacher should have tried - makes him one of the most accessible SF writers around.' 'A powerful fusion of science and imagination. Baxter makes an impressive job of putting flesh on the bones of scientific theory and in its imaginative vision Evolution deserves comparison with such SF epics as Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men. BAxter leaves you with a memorable yet unsettling sense of our insignificance in the scheme of things. In the story of evolution, as in all good thriller, an extinction event is always lurking just around the corner.'THE GUARDIAN 'Strong imagination, a capacity for awe, and the ability to think rigorously about nasty and vinal things abound inthe work of Stephen BAxter. HIs new novel is about time but its vision of our future is shockingly different and very convincing. Evolution mixes inventiveness with a truly Wellsian (and Stapledonian) vision - and it leaves the reader with a haunting portrayal of the distant future.'TLS Excellent reviews have also appeared in:The GuardianFocusSFXStarburstThe Alien On LineSF Revu Reviews are due in:SFSiteLocusInterzone Stephen has also been appearing on the odd local radio station:BBC Radio Leicester (x3)BBC Radio Southern CountiesBBC Radio Three CountiesBBC Radio Sheffield Stephen will be doing a joint signing and talk with M. John Harrison at the new Borders store in Leicester. Steph --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sir Barnabas VINE VOICE on 3 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
In this book Baxter tells the tale of the rise and fall of human kind as a series of snapshots into the lives of various members of the human evolutionary lineage. From Purga, first of the primates, scurrying between the legs of dinosaurs shortly before the Chicxulub impact through to Ultimate, the last, scratching out an existence on a neo-pangea, 500 million years hence.

I found this a thoroughly entertaining read, if not a terribly uplifiting one (there are no happy endings here), and is one of the best books I have come across in a long while. If I were forced to level criticism I might suggest that it is in places overly anthropomorphic. Also, that some of the themes, from the first half of the book in particular, are slightly repetitive, but I guess one could argue that the fundamentals of life generally boil down to a handful of criteria; eat, don't be eaten, reproduce etc...

Overall though I would thoroughly recommend this. Great storytelling from a great storyteller.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jona on 2 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
Evolution is one of those books that causes you - weeks later -to stop and ponder your entire world. Yet again Stephen Baxter manages to educate as well as entertain the reader, as is often the case with his books you come away humbled in your existence.
Sadly many people may give up on this book as it does start a little slow and is a big read but you will be gald of that by the end so stick with it!
The story starts in the time of the dinosaurs and follows the evolution of the life forms of the time - especially the development and decendancy of one, ours. This book is fasinating to follow the many diverse forms our ancestors may have taken and may yet take.
I'm now working my way through all Baxters books, and if you also enjoy enjoy science fiction take a look at his "Manifold" series, more great reads!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sorek on 15 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
Stephen Baxter, author of the satisfyingly ambition The Time Ships, demonstrates his mastery of science fiction in this novel about the path of primate evolution across the eons. Beginning with a small, timid rodent-like primate in the late Cretaceous, we are guided beyond the great catastrophe that ended the dominance of the reptiles into the stream of mammalian development that will culminate in the emergence of our own species. Baxter takes us into the worlds of the pithecines, the Neanderthal, early Homo sapiens, and provides lavish descriptions of the environmental factors which result in growing intelligence and consciousness of life on Earth. It is in this rich background that Baxter reveals his firm grasp of the sciences and he fairly revels in speculation that is entirely plausible.
Not content with leaving the reader hanging in the early 21st century, Mr. Baxter proceeds to "run the clock forward" and takes the story of the human family far into the future, offering a window into some of the possible scenarios of life's journey across the changing Earth. All in all, Evolution is an intriguing, absorbing, and compelling look at the saga of life, the struggle of the gene, and the many possibilities of our past and future. One comes away with an intensified appreciation of humankind's heritage and the need to protect our species' home and hard-earned gains.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cartimand TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Mar. 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Baxter - one of the most inventive sci-fi authors writing today, does it again with a novel of mind-boggling scope and vision.
There is something viscerally gripping about this tale, because it is humankind's tale. From the limited consciousness of our far distant ancestors, who eventually battled their way to bloody dominance at the top of the food chain, then into a bleak and unimaginably distant future, Baxter gives the reader a scarily plausible feeling of "being there".
Through a series of vivid tableaux, set millenia or mega-years apart, Baxter illustrates with astonishing skill, the developing sentience of our species. Some of the episodes are more gripping than others, and one or two did feel a little over-long (I found chapter 15 - Rome, somewhat laboured), however, the sense of growing excitement is such that I defy any reader not to yearn for the next development in this astonishing saga of one family's lineage across the ultimate family tree.
Whilst most of the material is based on sound archaeological/anthropological knowledge and toes the traditional evolutionary line, Baxter does flirt with some delightfully speculative creations, such as tool-making sapient dinosaurs (rather like Professor Michael Magee's postulated anthroposaurus sapiens) and the air-whale. I personally would have liked Baxter to have explored this avenue a little more, with some examples of ooparts (out-of-place artefacts) or anomalous fossils, but, what the heck, let's not get too picky!
These almost 600 pages just fly past and leave the reader yearning for more. In particular, the episodes describing the adventures of "Far" and her love of running, and of the human survivors, awakening from suspended animation long beyond their own time and agreeing to meet once a year at Stonehenge, were deeply moving and will remain with me for a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Martin Furseth on 6 April 2005
Format: Paperback
The story takes you through a long journey from prehistoric times to a distant future, describing important glimpses that plots important steps in a Darwinistic evolution through short tales from individuals' lives.
It can be a bit long-winding at times but presents an interesting read and gives some clues to why we are what we are and why and what we may become. If you're a bit interested personalized stories and in evolution theory and enjoy projecting into a very distant future, I would recommend this read. If you're very deep into only "hard" SF or even evolution theory, this book might not be for you at all...
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