In 2003 British science fiction author Stephen Baxter published his long (592 pages) novel “Evolution.” It is named for its central character. In addition to the Prologue and Epilogue it consists of 19 novella-length chapters in three sections: Ancestors, Humans, and Descendants. The novel covers a period of some 165 million years. Each chapter deals with a different time period, the first one in the farthest reaches of the past, the last in the far distant future.
At the centerpoint of the novel, a few years from now, Life As We Know It is at its peak. Civilization is brought down by a perfect storm of pestilence and terrorism. Those few who survive retreat into the forest.
Until that point, the novel had celebrated the increasing complexity of the mind, the growth of intelligence, the creation of civilization. A success story.
In a recent first gush of excitement I listed Adam Nevill’s “The Reddening” along with John Langan’s “The Fisherman” and Michael Wehunt’s “Greener Pastures” as what I consider the finest achievements in the field of horror in at least the last decade. Now that I have slept on the matter a few days I have not changed my opinion. The two novels and Wehunt’s collection of shorter pieces are fine indeed. In fact, if I toss out the label horror I consider them among the finest new fiction.