Top critical review
Dry but stimulating
on 3 September 2016
The introduction to this book recommends that you skip the first 80 pages, which may seem a little extreme, but having read it I have to say I’d agree. A “history” of the whole of humanity’s existence from the 1930s to the end of the solar system, the section dealing with the 20th and 21st centuries is full of national stereotypes and ludicrous ideas about the causes of international conflict (France and the UK destroy each other in a war sparked by the scandal caused by a black French man raping a white British woman. Come on.).
But once we’ve moved past our recognizable world and thousands of years into the future things get more interesting. It’s still a little dated in terms of technological prediction (at the end of human evolution, millions of years hence, they use such wild contraptions as flying cars and books recorded onto tape!), and a certain repetitiveness sets in, and I was also surprised that in all the time covered humans never even made it out of the solar system to explore other galaxies. But the scope and vision are impressive, as 18 different species of “man” rise and fall across the aeons.
I couldn’t tell you what it all means, as there seems to be little subtext, and it reads like a particularly dry history text book, but for a pure hit of philosophical science fictional full of ideas about evolution and societal change it’s very stimulating.