review Evolution ê PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free

review Evolution

A 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 adventu 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 exceptionSpoilers aheadThe 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 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 enoughThe 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 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 youAs exemplified by the dinosaurs and primates in Antarctica seuence 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 speciesEventually though we do get to the 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 than onceOnce 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 FanShe 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 popular page 292Alas this woman Mother who invents conscious thought as a tool for something other than social interaction and conseuently 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 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 toldAnd 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 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 religionThe 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 bandsAnd 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 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 betterEventually 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 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 brainsAll in all it s a depressing negative view of humans and evolution and evidently intended to be Avoid this one

characters Õ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ↠ Stephen Baxter

Evolution

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 dram 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 TimeSpaceOrigin trilogy had put me offMy 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 placesOther 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 EmpireAnother 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

Stephen Baxter ↠ 5 review

Re 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 As a rollicking science fiction tale this book may leave the reader scratching their head It is 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 EarthWhat this story does do 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 todayAnd then Baxter journeys into our futureWith 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 prettyThis book stayed with me for a long time after I read it We re all screwed4 Evolutionary Monkeys


10 thoughts on “Evolution

  1. says:

    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 a

  2. says:

    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 brie

  3. says:

    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 awarenessI haven´t seen anything better regarding the origins of intelligence You will recognize the chaptersAbsolutely recommended

  4. says:

    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 f

  5. says:

    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

  6. says:

    This is kind of different It doesn't have a plot It's essentially a series of short stories about the lives of va

  7. says:

    As a rollicking science fiction tale this book may leave the reader scratching their head It is a series of interrelated short stories and vignettes given from the viewpoint of creatures stretching back in time

  8. says:

    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 real than some of the human ones If you liked the suid in ManifoldTime you'll probably like Evolution The book is longer than it had to b

  9. says:

    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 i

  10. says:

    This book reminded me in many ways of those Walking With Dinosaurs TV shows The book is broken up into sections each set in

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