This story was possible over 2 books. I read it in the 80s.

Human DNA was recovered from a space message (arecibo message) and brought to life by the aliens and kept as pets. The humans learn about this and travel back to Earth in a giant tree. Millions of years have passed and the Earth is now populated by reptiles. Something to do with the Great Filter?


This is likely The Genesis Quest by Donald Moffitt.

An alien race (The Nar) assemble humans from a stream of genetic information transmitted by radio from the Milky Way Galaxy. The resulting colony of humans spend some time integrated into the Nar society before growing restless, discovering the secret of human longevity, and embarking on the seemingly impossible millennia-long mission of a physical journey back to Earth. This epic journey is made in a gigantic space-grown semi-sentient Dyson tree known as Yggdrasil.

It was followed by Second Genesis

Many centuries ago, an alien race known as the Nar was able to recreate human beings from genetic code, broadcast from Earth into outer space by a beleaguered humanity. They allow a group of humans to travel millions of light years through the galaxy, in order to discover what has happened to the original occupants of planet Earth. However, none of the human participants of the expedition are prepared for what awaits them at the completion of their journey...

I found the reference on the TV Tropes page for Tree Vessel, requisite warnings that the site is a huge timesink.

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    Beat me to it. I read that material a while back. It was an interesting concept: "Our DNA was built from detailed instructions in a message sent millions of years ago -- I wonder what will happen if we travel to Earth and check up on present conditions?" – Lorendiac Jan 4 at 20:36
  • Interesting; I just started to re-read Hyperion and there's a tree-ship named Yggdrasil in there too. – Organic Marble Jan 5 at 13:39
  • Well, the mythical "World Tree" isn't a bad name for such a craft. – FuzzyBoots Jan 5 at 13:43
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    Technically, the answer should be Second Genesis alone. The events of Genesis Quest took place in another galaxy, where the starfish-shaped Nar reconstitute the human race from genetic instructions sent long ago in radio waves from the Milky Way. In Second Genesis, some of these humans journey to the Milky Way to explore the source of the radio waves, which turns out to be a modified Dyson sphere around the star Delta Pavonis. The installations there are deserted, but a ship of sentient insects, evolved from dragonflies, arrives from what they later determine to be the Sol System. – Invisible Trihedron Jan 7 at 1:32

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