Sunday, April 8, 2012


"There is grandeur in this view of life. . . that. . . from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." -Charles Darwin, cited in Evolution (p579)

Evolution is what Stephen Baxter imagines is the story of the world. He starts off following mankind's ancestors in their journey of evolution and migration across what the world once looked like. With each new chapter he takes a leap through time, slowly making his way across the generations following who he claims to have descended from his first characters. Finally he catches up with Joan Useb, a woman the reader meets in the prologue and run into again not only in her own chapter of the journey but one last time in the epilogue. Baxter's storytelling does not end with the people we know today, or even what Baxter believes will be the last surviving humans. Instead he goes further, telling of the posthumans, when we no longer need large brains or the ability to walk upright to survive in a world dominated by rats or later when being small is what helps creatures to survive on a dying planet.

Baxter is obviously a supporter of Darwin, which I cannot claim to fully support, but he does a well enough job that he is not flaunting this belief system in the readers face. Yes, this is how he thinks things might have been and will be, but as he states in his concluding letter, this is only a theory.

I must say it took me a while to read this book. (Almost a full month to be exact). This was not because it was not interesting, it was in fact fun to see what this man believes our kind went through, and he does an amazing job as selling his story as the truth. THIS is the problem actually, reading this book seemed a lot like sitting through a lecture by Dr. Ross Geller. Sometimes it got to be too much for this reader to be cramming her mind with so much "fact."
That being said, however, I do not agree with my husband's descision to put the book down unfinished and give up. In fact when I came home to discover that the og had torn the hardback cover to shreds I pushed myself to keep reading the book when I could easily have thrown it away. I am now glad that I stuck with it.

I liked the approach Baxter took of not only our history but our future. It did help that the last stage of humans reminded me of 2 Sailor Moon characters (Alan and Anne and their relationship with the Doom Tree). The ending was creepy and fascinating.

I have to recommend this book to those unafraid to endure a bit of "learning." Take your time, don't expect to be the one who picks up the book to finish it in a few days. Read it for the fascinating take on our timeline, and enjoy the imagination of a great writer.

I cannot, in good conscience, pass on my copy however. Hardback books are not meant t be able to fold in half to read, and sadly mine is at that point. But find a copy and give it a chance.