View Full Version : Evolution: A book. (Donn?)

12-25-2005, 12:51 PM
Trying to recall the title and author of a book I read as a kid. Probably read it about 1962 or so, which means it was probably written in the '50's.

It was an anthology of short stories about bioengineering the human genome for life on alien planets. All were by the same author. I thought it was Clifford D. Simak, and that the title included the word "grass" (and maybe "seed"), but I can't find any reference to it.

Sound familiar to anyone?

Sea Frog
12-25-2005, 01:03 PM
Could this help?


12-25-2005, 01:20 PM
Possibly a Theodore Sturgeon collection? He was one of the primo SF short story writers of that era, and he was also the first to introduce bioengineered beings to SF, with his Neoterics, in 1941.

Rick Tyler
12-25-2005, 01:32 PM
I thought of Ted Sturgeon, too, wasn't Microcosmic God the original appearance of Neoterics? How about James Blish's Surface Tension -- an early tale of genetic design as opposed to Frankenstein-style natural meddling?

[ 12-25-2005, 02:33 PM: Message edited by: Rick Tyler ]

12-25-2005, 01:32 PM
Ah, possibly!

Dave Fleming
12-25-2005, 01:34 PM
Either JG Ballard or ??? Christopher.

No Blade Of Grass

12-25-2005, 01:45 PM
Hard to find descriptions. :(

I recall 2 of the stories particularly, although just framents:

In one, the action is on Ganymede and the eartlings are attacking to wipe out the evil Ganymede-adapted settlers.

In the other, the micro-sized water breathing humans are on a voyage of discovery in their water-filled "spaceship" that will take them above the surface of the water and on to dry land for the first time.

[ 12-25-2005, 02:48 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

12-25-2005, 02:03 PM
Could well be "The Seedling Stars" by James Blish!

Loved his "Cities in Flight!" smile.gif

12-25-2005, 02:05 PM

The central conceit uniting the stories is that humanity will colonize other planets not by adapting the environment of those planets to men (terraforming), nor by avoiding the environment of other planets (living in domes, say), but by adapting men to alien environments. By so doing, man will "seed" the stars. The first book tells of the beginning of this project. The main character, Donald Sweeney, is a young man who has been altered so as to be able to survive on Jupiter's moon, Ganymede. He has been raised completely alone, and told that his job is to infiltrate the criminal colony of Adapted Men already on Ganymede, and to bring their leader to justice. If he succeeds, perhaps he can become a true human, and live on Earth. It won't come as a surprise to learn that when Sweeney goes to Ganymede, his views change -- and that the genius scientist who is leading the Adapted Men has a visionary plan for man's future. The story is slightly marred by overly evil villains, and by a bit of silly science (not counting the wildly implausible "Adaptation" technology -- that impossibility I allow), but the overarching vision is wonderful, and the story is exciting and involving.

The next two books involve two different planets with radically different Adapted Humans. In "The Thing in the Attic," humans have been Adapted to live in the trees which dominated their planet. Over generations their society has ossified, held back by a fear of the ground, and by a reverence for the myths about the "Giants" who supposedly placed men in the trees. Honath is a heretic -- he doesn't believe in the Giants, and for that, he and several of his fellow unbelievers are condemned to exile and certain death on the ground, or, in their terms, in Hell. But after much hardship, Honath and a couple of his friends manage to survive on the ground -- only to make a shattering discovery.

In "Surface Tension," a spaceship crash-lands on a planet around Tau Ceti, a watery planet quite unsuited for even ordinary adaptations. The only solution the desperate crash survivors can see is to make adapted humans of microscopic size, to live in the tiny ponds that dot the planet's surface. The two episodes, one derived from "Sunken Universe," the other from the original "Surface Tension" novelette, tell first of the humans' alliance with some of the protozoans, and their joint battle against the more dangerous microscopic creatures; then, generations later, of the brave attempt of some of the humans to make a "spaceship" with which to travel to other "universes": i.e., to leave one pond and make their way to another. The concepts here are wonderful, and the ironic commentary is nicely handled, though the story itself is rather straightforward.

The final story, "Watershed," is set centuries or millennia in the future, and the wonderful twist is that now humans and Adapted men from all over space are returning to Earth -- to Adapt men to live on the environmentally ravaged hellhole that remains. Against this backdrop Blish tells a morality tale about the true nature of "humanity": it's a bit baldly put, but still well-taken.

12-25-2005, 02:08 PM
A lot of my early SF reading runs together. The first one you describe sounds like The Ganymede Takeover, by PKDick and Ray Nelson, but that was late 60's.

The second one is close to Microcosmic God but not quite.

I have cases of SF anthologies from the 50's and 60's that were edited by very famous people, but contained works of lots of different writers, usually theme based. Stuff from Analog and such.

12-25-2005, 02:20 PM
Mine too! I read everything I could get my hands on!

Still do - even including Grisham's latest: "The Broker", which is pretty awful. Not a "legal triller" as per his usual genre. He should have stuck to what he knows. Still, it paid for "research" in Italy! ;)

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
12-25-2005, 02:21 PM
The first book I thought of was Olaf Stapledon's "Last and First Men" published about 1931.

A goody - you might well enjoy.