Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Evolution” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Évolution #1-2 (English))

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,790 ratings  ·  223 reviews
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 drama of evolution in all its awesome majesty and rigorous beauty. Sixty-five million years ...more
Paperback, 646 pages
Published February 3rd 2004 by Del Rey Books (first published November 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Evolution, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Evolution

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,790 ratings  ·  223 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Evolution
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 Time/Space/Origin trilogy had put me off.

My 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 a
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who uses 'natural' as a synonym for 'good'
Shelves: fiction
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 brief episode about modern humans, and then immediately wipes out the human race and moves forward.

The pre-human episodes are meant to conform very closely to the fossil record. Indeed, when indulging in more extreme flights of fancy, Baxter provides explanatory bits as to wh
Peter Pier
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf
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-awareness.
I haven´t seen anything better regarding the origins of intelligence. You will recognize the chapter(s).
Absolutely recommended!
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 few places those speculations are less than convincing, such as the prehistoric Neanderthal shanty town outside the Homo Sapiens village.

Baxter writ
Lis Carey
Jan 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: f-sf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is kind of different. It doesn't have a plot. It's essentially a series of short stories about the lives of various creatures on the evolutionary path to modern humans and beyond. Said that way, it doesn't sound very interesting but it kept my attention through all 800+ pages.
Anna Erishkigal
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
As a rollicking science fiction tale, this book may leave the reader scratching their head. It is more 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 Earth.

What this story -does- do more clearly than all the snoozer science textbooks we were for
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sci-fi fans, biologists, anyone interested in evolution
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 more real than some of the human ones (If you liked the squid in Manifold:Time, you'll probably like Evolution). The book is longer than it had to be, but the 15 or so stories were mostly worthwhile. At times the "genes working to survive" theme was too explicit and overdone (let the reader's intelligence ...more
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 incomprehensible spans of time that have passed since the formation of the universe, and since life began on this planet. Evolution serves as a reminder of just how brief our species' time in the sun really has been, and what remarkable arrogance human beings disp ...more
Stewart Tame
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me in many ways of those Walking With Dinosaurs TV shows. The book is broken up into sections, each set in a different era. So we focus on an early mammal here, a proto-hominid there, and generally span a huge chunk of our planet's history, from the earliest mammals to a distant, speculative future and the eventual extinction of all life. One might almost say that evolution itself is the protagonist of this novel. And it is as novel, not a textbook. Parts of it are pure specul ...more
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lithodid-man by: Former employer
I really loved this book. This is a phenomenal look into the history and potential future of our species. While science fiction, is based on sound principles and a good knowledge of real human prehistory.

I made this book required reading for a course I taught, Introduction to Human Evolution. This raised more than a few eyebrows. My reason for this was that he illustrates some of the more important yet lesser known aspects of evolution and human biology. I noticed one reviewer found the 'devolu
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is the clearest understanding I have ever had on the eons-long process of evolution, told in a fascinating novel from each creature's point of view from millions of years ago. I couldn't put this book down! The amazing settings bring each geologic age to life again, as it was when it happened. This author must have a prodigious science background and great imagination. This book is perfect for anyone with an interest in ancient and pre-historic history, geology, geography and sociology ...more
A great read -not in the least for its 762 pages- taking you from 145 Million years ago (chapter two) to 500 Million years in the future. It describes, in speculative fiction way, the upcoming and downfall of Man. From sentient dinosaurs to sentient trees. It is not -as the author himself says in the afterword- a textbook, but a plausable grand story of human evolution, in the vein of Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men ...more
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read
One of my favorite books (if not my favorite)! I am fascinated by evolution and history in general and evolution itself could be considered to be the main character of this book. Of course, this book is fiction, but it takes your imagination to what could very well have happened between 65 million years ago an now, and what could happen between now and 500 million years in the future.
Traces that river of DNA out of Eden and into the dry sands. I don't think of myself as a human chauvinist, and yet I mourned when that last individual manifestation of DNA that was recognizably human slipped back into the churning evolutionary waters. A powerful and unsettling meditation on cooperation, competition and change.

Well worth the time.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
wow, such beautiful writing and a wonderfully accurate rendition of prehistory, which puts this book in an undoubtedly hard sci fi genre.
Empirical Rationalist
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reading Baxter’s Evolution was quite a journey for me. Measuring against the reading time available to me, this is a decently sized tome. It took quite a long time for me to finish; I was reading in sections, and ruminating on its implications. This book satisfies the classic Science-Fiction definition by Arthur C. Clarke: Science fiction is something that could happen - but you usually wouldn't want it to. This work is too close to reality and we certainly don’t want it to happen.

On more than
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When telling the stories of individuals and peoples, there are three questions the story must deal with: 1) Where did we come from? 2) Where are we going? and 3) What will become of us? In Evolution, Stephen Baxter tells the story of humankind itelf, ranging from humanity's nraw beginnings in Purga the Purgatorius, dancing around the feet of dinosaurs and just barely surviving the comet-strike on the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago; to paleontologist Joan Usub, on her way to participate i ...more
Ameen Khaled
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
how brilliant and illuminating this novel is .

to see a beautiful painting you have to take some steps backwards , so that you can get the whole surface , you will not get any beauty or ideas from concentrating on the small details .

it is astonishing to realize how tiny we are , how short our lives are compared to life itself.

one of the questions that confused our kind from the beginning of conscious is who we are , why are we here , where are we going to , I thought about this alot and alot of t
Fuzzball Baggins
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
That was super interesting. The last few human chapters dragged on, but I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn about human evolution or who just wants to expand their mind by reading something different from the usual.
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I approached this novel with some trepidation, as the concept of dramatizing humanity’s evolution down through the ages sounded like something that might be way too dry to be entertaining. It did, however, come highly recommended, so I cracked it open and was pleasantly surprised by how engaging the stories were (it’s essentially a collection of short stories tied together by theme, given that the book stretches across hundreds of millions of years). Most of the novel is set in the past, with th ...more
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: (Cautious) palaeo buffs, science fans
First up, I have to confess that I didn't actually finish this book. I ran out of enthuasiam at about page 350. While I did enjoy the read, I found it hard to keep coming back witht the constant change of characters and places. The start of the book is also quite graphic - very "nature red in tooth and claw". It's a constant barrage of things being eaten, maimed, abducted and killed. When he starts writing the hominid sections it calms down a bit.

From a science perspective the book is pretty dan
Paul McFadyen
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Like most of Baxter's work, the plots and characters are thinly sketched devices, to convey the big picture of whatever ideas that he wants to illustrate - in this particular book, the theme is the adaptability of life on earth and the circumstances that lead to the rise (and fall) of the primates.

It's interesting to see the moment at which Baxter sees mankind veer off from being merely the first amongst equals of the animal kingdom and it's clear he sees this development as the tipping-point fo
Pablo Flores
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is basically a novelization of evolution; the main "character" is the primate lineage, beginning with a small creature in the last days of the dinosaurs and ending many millions of years after the extinction of the human species. As such it is surprisingly entertaining, even though the author cannot resist throwing in bits or entire paragraphs of documentary-style exposition. There are some very powerful scenes, which mostly offset the duller parts. You can learn a lot with this book a ...more
CV Rick
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
This was an easy book to set down. Quite frankly, fictionalizing vignettes of our evolutionary forefathers is a mixture of giving protagonist voice along with human motivations to animals (which, unless done very well, is annoying) and scattering plotless segments of dubious credibility. I would rather read National Geographic, or any other nonfiction reporting on evolution than this. I felt the whole time as if I was reading a book crafted toward winning an award, rather than a book crafted to ...more
Matt Coates
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a very impressive piece of research and history of the evolution of man. However, I would say for me that the suppositions made about some of the species in the past and the future jarred with the rest of the book. Good book all the same!
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Collosal! One of my favorite reads ever!
Fx Smeets
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Be them laudatory or acerbic, most reviews of Evolution insist on the same two aspects of the novel: the huge importance of the scientific discourse (indispensable textbook for the former, totally inaccurate for the latter) and Baxter’s pessimism as to the nature and future of the human race. These points will seem obvious to the casual reader. However the irrelevance of the first one is easily demonstrated. As for the accusation of pessimism, a closer examination of the novel reveals it as inac ...more
Jack Deighton
You can’t fault Baxter for ambition. This is potentially a daunting undertaking, to tell the story of human evolution - from those first small, nocturnal mammals scrabbling about under the feet of the dinosaurs all the way through modern Homo Sapiens to its far future descendants - via incidents from the imagined lives of individuals living at possibly pivotal moments in that great chain. It wouldn’t have been an easy task for anyone.

The story is told in three sections Ancestors, Humans, and De
Ted Waterfall
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: written-reviews
Stephen Baxter has written a novel about human evolution from the very beginning and proceeding to the very end, and by that, I mean the end of the earth. And that is one very ambitious undertaking.
Chapter 1 begins in what would become Montana some 65 million years ago by examining the life of an early mammalian primate the author named Purga, a rodent looking creature, but the great, great … grand parent of all of us. Purga struggles with her environment and with dinosaurs and with the Devil’s
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
MM English 9: Evolution by Stephen Baxter Recommendation 1 6 Dec 14, 2015 03:25PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Light of Other Days
  • Time's Eye (A Time Odyssey, #1)
  • Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America
  • The Song Of The Young Sentry
  • Bill, The Galactic Hero (Bill, The Galactic Hero, #1)
  • Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons
  • Sunstorm (A Time Odyssey, #2)
  • Ubo
  • Cuba Straits (Doc Ford, #22)
  • Ratha's Challenge (The Named, #4)
  • Ratha and Thistle-Chaser (The Named, #3)
  • Clan Ground (The Named, #2)
  • Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven, #1)
  • Demonstorm (Legends of the Raven, #3)
  • Noonshade (Chronicles of the Raven, #2)
  • Nightchild (Chronicles of the Raven, #3)
  • Rise of the TaiGethen (Elves #2)
See similar books…
Stephen Baxter is a trained engineer with degrees from Cambridge (mathematics) and Southampton Universities (doctorate in aeroengineering research). Baxter is the winner of the British Science Fiction Award and the Locus Award, as well as being a nominee for an Arthur C. Clarke Award, most recently for Manifold: Time. His novel Voyage won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History Novel of the ...more

Other books in the series

Évolution (2 books)
  • Évolution 1
  • Évolution 2

Related Articles

Space operas, magic, destiny, dystopia, aliens: There's a bit of something for everyone in 2020's latest offerings in science fiction and fantasy...
67 likes · 10 comments
“An ability to believe in things that weren’t true was a powerful tool.” 4 likes
“death was a termination, an end of existence, and those who had gone were as meaningless as evaporated dew, their very identities lost after a generation.” 0 likes
More quotes…