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Manifold: Origin Hardcover – February 12, 2002
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Award-winning author Stephen Baxter turns to the origin of species in this final novel of the Manifold trilogy. Reid Malenfant and Emma Stoney are flying over Africa when a new moon appears in the sky--and Emma disappears. She finds herself on the Red Moon with people resembling human evolutionary ancestors, with whom she must learn to live in order to survive. On Earth, Malenfant teams with Japanese scientist Nemoto on a desperate rescue mission that leads to greater questions about the origin of the alien moon, and ultimately of humankind.
Because the Manifold novels take place in alternate universes, Origin works well as a stand-alone read. Baxter effectively explores how modern humans and their ancestors might be thoroughly alien to one another, but the book is more focused on thoughtful scientific speculation than in-depth characterization. However, readers who are swept away by novels of cosmic scope and compelling imagination will find Big Idea science fiction at its best. --Roz Genessee
From Publishers Weekly
This third and final book in Baxter's ambitious trilogy, whose vast scale calls to mind Asimov's Foundation series, shares the same strengths and weaknesses as the two previous volumes, Manifold: Space and Manifold: Time. More anthropology than hard SF, the novel follows the disjointed adventures of series hero Reid Malenfant's wife, Emma Stoney, on the hostile surface of an alien red moon that mysteriously replaces Earth's moon. Using multiple viewpoints (sometimes within the same paragraph), the author details the primitive thinking of at least five hominid races (higher humans included) that inhabit the red moon and of a super-race that's been manipulating human evolution. Once Emma sorts out the evolutionary differences, she favors the Runners (Australopithecines) and Hams (Neandertals) over the higher humans, who have foisted their crude fundamentalist religious beliefs on the other races. A variety of characters speculate on the simpler aspects of Darwinian theory, but somewhat disappointingly they all reach the same conclusion. Gratuitous violence from time to time offers relief from the challenge of keeping straight the host of loosely related story lines. Baxter fans should be well satisfied, but those who prefer more thought-provoking SF will need to look elsewhere. (Feb. 1)nominated for an Arthur C. Clarke Award.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
Right up there, almost, with Evolution, which is my favorite for his science, what if style, while of course Titan showcases his ability to create characters to bleed over. I haven't read all of his books, something that I'm remedying presently, but one of my top 10 authors since the release of Titan.
heartedly recommended with no real reservations.
I consider Baxter one of the core group of hard science fiction writers however reading his books often feels too much like work...unlike Banks or Reynolds. Maybe its too much exposition on physics and too little character development. The balance between the two is off.
All in all, a so so book.
The plot seems to be a trellis on which other, more interesting, elements are hung. Those other elements, such as theoretical views of proto-human activities, thought patterns, and motivations recur in Baxter's writing. I enjoy them.
As for the "darkness" in the story, it's true that this isn't clan of the cave bears. Criminalizing homicide was a huge mental leap for our ancestors and is of recent vintage. Baxter understands this.
I was disturbed by the notion that predators know to keep their populations down. Not true. There are too many population studies revealing the critters in general have population explosions and implosions based on resource availability, predation, and disease. Oh well, no author is perfect.
Never mind that he also just found out that this planet happens to be a "link" between parallel Earths and just phases in and out bwtween universes and therefore any second he could be phased to a different universe and forget any hope of coming back. The plot goes downhill from there. it becomes excrutiatingly boring and even less believable. It is a shame that an author with such a stellar oeuvre felt compelled to publish such an unworthy novel. I hope his next effort is more satisfying, but after M:Origin, I will definitely wait for reviews before buying it.