Morris' interest is the origin of life, and he explores much of the current understanding of the sciences of complexity and artificial life from this perspective. This means that much familiar material is presented with a slightly new slant, and mixed with other material not often seen in the complexity literature. As well as the science, we get a thoughtful review of the current arguments and philosophies. So we Kauffman's autocatalytic networks and Goodwin's morphogenetic ideas ranged against Dennett's stinging critiques of anyone who is not a fundamentalist evolutionist.
Some of the comments about computers have dated remarkably in the brief time since publication. Despite that, this is a readable introduction to the subject, and has a short annotated bibliography for those who want to delve deeper.