Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Anthony Campbell
Jonathan Cowie
Marcus Ross (pdf)
Michael Ruse (pdf)
Cosmos magazine
Nicolas Höning

Simon Conway Morris

Life's solution

Although the orthodox view is that evolution doesn't follow any predefined direction, it certainly looks as if it is progressing towards higher forms. In Life's solution:Inevitable Humans in a lonely universe Simon Conway Morris argues that evolution does indeed have a direction of progress. The first part of the book examines the origin of life on earth, and indeed the origin of the Earth itself, and so poses the question of the uniqueness of the types living things we see around us - is life elsewhere in the universe likely to be similar to that here? Conway Morris thinks that if there are suitable planets then it will be, but that such planets may be rarer than we think.

In the second half of the book Conway Morris discusses convergent evolution, arguing that this is the norm rather than the exception, and giving plenty of fascinating examples along the way.

At times I felt the book was rather hard going - this is something I've found to be very common in books dealing with the origin of life on Earth. In this case it's rather a pity since the material isn't really that hard to understand, and the book has lots of material to interest the reader. So if you don't mind a few long words, and want to see a challenge to some of the orthodox views on evolution then you're likely to enjoy reading this book

Amazon.com info
Paperback 488 pages  
ISBN: 0521603250
Salesrank: 869527
Weight:1.78 lbs
Published: 2004 Cambridge University Press
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 486 pages  
ISBN: 0521603250
Salesrank: 649404
Weight:1.78 lbs
Published: 2005 Cambridge University Press
Amazon price £22.49
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 486 pages  
ISBN: 0521827043
Salesrank: 1028210
Weight:2.03 lbs
Published: 2003 Cambridge University Press
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Product Description
Life's Solution builds a persuasive case for the predictability of evolutionary outcomes. The case rests on a remarkable compilation of examples of convergent evolution, in which two or more lineages have independently evolved similar structures and functions. The examples range from the aerodynamics of hovering moths and hummingbirds to the use of silk by spiders and some insects to capture prey. Going against the grain of Darwinian orthodoxy, this book is a must read for anyone grappling with the meaning of evolution and our place in the Universe. Simon Conway Morris is the Ad Hominen Professor in the Earth Science Department at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St. John's College and the Royal Society. His research focuses on the study of constraints on evolution, and the historical processes that lead to the emergence of complexity, especially with respect to the construction of the major animal body parts in the Cambrian explosion. Previous books include The Crucible of Creation (Getty Center for Education in the Arts, 1999) and co-author of Solnhofen (Cambridge, 1990). Hb ISBN (2003) 0-521-82704-3