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Exultant (Destiny's Children) by [Baxter, Stephen]
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Exultant (Destiny's Children) Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Length: 512 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Military SF fans will relish the second entry in Baxter's Destiny's Children trilogy, set long after the events recounted in 2003's Coalescent. When navy pilot Pirius and his crew violate protocol during a skirmish with the alien Xeelee and end up capturing a ship from "mankind's most ancient and most powerful foe," instead of accolades, two versions of Pirius—Pirius Red and Pirius Blue, from different time lanes—receive punishment. Pirius Red accompanies the eccentric Nilis (we know he's odd because he never wears shoes) to the Earth system to research the captured ship and concoct a way to end the war, while Pirius Blue is sent in disgrace to the Xeelee front for army combat training. As Pirius Red explores the solar system, picking up clues to create a strategy to defeat the Xeelee by striking at their home system, Pirius Blue narrowly escapes death in combat and grows into a leader. Both come to question the doctrines that guide their lives as they realize the extent of their military conditioning. Weak characterization mars an otherwise well-told story as fast-paced action sequences flip to long, dry discussions about physics. Not content with one drop-dead hard-science idea, Baxter concatenates them, one building on the other; even his aliens represent ideas. Female readers may wish the author would take some lessons on portraying romance from Sharon Shinn.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–In humankind's Third Expansion, the species has spread throughout the galaxy and assimilated all challengers but the mysterious Xeelee; in a 20,000-year stalemate, humans have kept them at bay in the galaxy's center. Time travel (used by both sides to gather intelligence) creates numerous "drafts" of time lines, but apart from this uncertainty the endless war has brought about a strangely static human society. Soldiers and pilots are bred in vats near the Front and taught only war; few survive past their teens. When Prius, a young pilot, captures a Xeelee ship and takes it to the recent past for study, an innovative program is begun to develop new weapons technology. While Prius Blue (the pilot from the future time line, now stuck in this one) is sent to the Front, the younger Prius Red (from this time line) must travel throughout the solar system with an eccentric but brilliant scientist in a quest for knowledge needed for the anti-Xeelee weapon. Working with widely differing elements of society, Red learns many secrets he'd rather not know, adjusts to new knowledge, and grows into a leadership role: he heads up Exultant, the elite squadron tasked with deploying the new weapon. Even in a genre characterized by unfettered imagination, Baxter's future universe is extraordinary in its depth, breadth, and richness of invention. Cutting-edge physics, subtle humor, time-travel paradoxes, and loopy twists combine to give readers a wonderfully original sci-fi experience. It can be read independently of Coalescent (Ballantine, 2004), which is set in the same universe but mostly in the present age.–Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

Product Details

  • File Size: 1315 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345457889
  • Publisher: Del Rey (October 26, 2004)
  • Publication Date: October 26, 2004
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC2K2O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645,872 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian K. Ralli on January 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a decent but not great book but is a must read for any Baxter fan mainly because it finally shows mankind actually FIGHTING the Xeelee. I had a little trouble deciding who to root for. Traditionally, mankind are usually the bad guys when it comes to Baxter's "Xeelee" books. Having read "Ring", I already know that the Xeelee are actually working toward a greater good, so why root for the humans to disrupt their work? I did find it a little contrived that humans who have been stagnating for 1000 years can suddenly develop exotic weapons and defenses just because some old guy decides that it is time to do so. It still didn't seem as if we could actually "hurt" anybody considering the Xeelee are capable of building structures on a galactic scale... Otherwise, I was a little disappointed that there were no great revelations here and we still don't get to actually meet a Xeelee. There were however many aspects I did like. The epic scale of the war was awe inspiring. I also enjoyed the side plot depicting the rise and fall of the lifeforms who lived in the very first moments of the creation of the cosmos. That is classic Baxter at his finest. Minimally, I would not read this book unless you have read "Timelike Infinity", "Ring", and "Vacuum Diagrams".
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Format: Hardcover
I immediately purchase any new book by Mr. Baxter, he has been a favorite author of mine since Raft. I know of no other science fiction author so fascinated with the questions of why the universe exists and where it is going. You also will not find too many authors willing to kill off the entire earth as a plot device; when something goes horribly wrong in a Baxter novel, the entire universe past, present and future is at play.

That said, I was just a little disappointed in Exultant. The theme of a stagnant civilization delivered from entropy by the heroic actions of the protagonist has been visited too many times in this genre. As with all of Mr. Baxter's works there is no shortage of thought-provoking ideas, but this work failed to integrate the ideas. The exposition of the true nature of the black hole at the center of the galaxy just didn't work--by the time our hero makes his fateful choice this reader didn't have enough invested in the whole question to really make a value judgment, which seemed to be the whole purpose of the work.

The galactic civilization stuff has been done before. Coalescent was brilliant: made you really think about issues of human evolution and possibility. Exultant would get a much higher review had I not been familiar with Mr. Baxter's other works. He remains on my "must purchase" list and I will anxiously await his next effort.
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Format: Hardcover
Exultant is the story of a pivotal event in the millennia-long human-Xeelee war. As such the book takes place in Baxter's familiar future history universe that has served as the setting for a large proportion of his novels (Raft, Ring, Vacuum Diagrams etc.). Although this novel is billed as (and is in a sense a sort of) a sequel to "Coalescent" and/or the 2nd entry in the Destiny's Children Trilogy, it can be read independently of the former and serves at least as much as a sequel/prequel to any of the other books that take place in the Xeelee universe.

As usual, the physics is great. This is hard SF at its best. The most interesting parts are a back story introduced in the last third of the book consisting of very brief chapters interposed between the chapters of the main story. These tell a cosmological story of the birth of the universe and the birth of life. Along the way these brief interludes address the anthropic principle, the matter-antimatter disequilibrium, symmetry breaking and many other issues currently the subject of intense study and speculation in modern cosmology and physics.

However, the physics aside, the main story itself is just OK. Since it takes place in Baxter's familiar universe at a specified time (approximately 20,000-25,000 years in the future), from Baxter's other writings that describe events that transpire up to millions of years in the future, we know that there are constraints on how the story must end. The main characters are not so believable nor is the core around which the book is written - the idea that mankind has stagnated intellectually, socially and technologically to the extent described in the book.
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Format: Hardcover
I would definitely call Stephen Baxter's Exultant an interesting book, but I would be hard-pressed to recommend it to anyone. It has some very exciting SF concepts, but they are buried in a plot that makes so litle sense and dialog that will make you cringe.

Baxter is a man of ideas, but it seems he is too busy pondering grand concepts to put them in the proper context of a good story. There are truly mind-boggling concepts; even too many, it seems, because some have barely a page or two of development. The most extreme was 'Concept space', a mind-boggling concept which is used merely to provide a deus ex machina solution to the protagonists.

If at least the hard SF was solid enough despite the weak plot... As it happens, some concepts are hastily thrown together, then conveniently circumvented when they are no longer required. The whole "FTL Foreknowledge" concept, for instance, at the heart of the story, can be waived by the author when he needs the protagonists to fool the Xeelee. Their solution? Use the time-honored but 'risky' 'anti-Tolman manoeuver', which is never explained nor used again. Sigh.

Another pet peeve I simply cannot let pass: Commissary Nilis. Nowhere is this guy made sympathetic, with his bumbling attitude, his obvious lack of oratory skills, his habit of walking barefoot everywhere and his smelly feet and armpits(!) Yet he is seen more often than any of the main characters, because he can send Virtuals of himself to annoy all of them at every corner of the Galaxy at the same time. Whenever he let slip a 'My eyes!', I was ready to gouge my own out of their sockets.

If you're wondering whether to pick up this book because it is the sequel to 'Coalescent', then don't.
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