Wow. That was intense.
I just put down Stephen Baxter’s Origin, a book that has rested peacefully and without any attention of mine in my bookshelf since 2002. This Sunday, I picked it up.
Tuesday at 11 pm I’ve finished the 450 pages and reached my verdict: It’s very poetic.
Almost all the science fiction I’ve read has astonished me. From Arthur C. Clarke’s very physical universe, to Frank Herbert’s eternal-romantic sphere in the Dune series, SF writers have a uniquety that’s missing in other genres. And don’t blame the genres! This book is different, like all the others, derived from the Fermi Paradox and has – without saying too much – a heavy emphasis on evolution.
As the story is beginning to take form, you follow different characters and creatures in their "daily lives" (or their lives, at least) from their various perspectives. Soon you pick up Baxter’s great sense for symbols, his considerable knowledge about ourselves and our primate cousins, and the eternal questions (the why’s) here revolved around the Fermi Paradox. It is a dip into our past and perhaps – our future. Not everything is comfortable reading, especially since you feel the story in your guts, as you get more and more used to the different perspectives. Probably due to my intense reading, I felt like a chimpanzee at times, which proved a great feat of Baxter since it intensified the experiences we share with his characters.
The book has alot of erections, I must say. If I had the book in e-text I’d scan it for the word, since the author must have broken some kind of record. Yet again emphasizing Baxter’s genius, erections being a vital part of evolution and our animal nature.
This entire book is quite solitary, since the interaction is mostly on a personal level bound to the character experiencing it, and it corresponds to the "conclusion" or feel of the entire work. It reminded me of a poem I wrote when I was sixteen. I will not recite it, you will have to read the book and figure it out for yourself.