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Stephen Baxter Evolution Copyright © 2002 by Stephen Baxter To Sandra, again, and to the rest of us, in hope of long perspectives Judging from the past, we may safely infer that not one living species will transmit its unaltered likeness to a distant futurity. And of the species now living very few will transmit progeny of any kind to a far distant futurity. – CHARLES DARWIN On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) Prologue As the plane descended toward Darwin it ran into a cloud of billowing black smoke. The windows suddenly darkened, blocking out the Australasian summer light, and the engines whined. Joan had been talking quietly to Alyce Sigurdardottir. But now she shifted in her seat, the belt uncomfortably tight across her bulge. This was a roomy, civilized airplane, with even the economy seats set in blocks of four or six around little tables, quite unlike the cattle truck...