the crucible of time by john brunner is a fantastic book, it’s a shame that it is out of print. it traces the development of life on a doomed planet, basically from the time of the first astronomers to their escape from the planet before it is obliterated. the creatures aren’t humanoid, but more bug-like, and the technology they develop is based largely around specialized creatures. this all takes place over many generations, and across some intervening near-calamities.

it’s a book i’d very much recommend. powell’s books has some copies, or you can do what i did and get it at your local library. (the los angeles public library system has five copies.)

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