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Manifold: Time Mass Market Paperback – November 28, 2000
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Manifold: Time's would-be asteroid-miner-in-chief is bootstrap space entrepreneur Reid Malenfant, a media-savvy firebrand who's showed those crotchety NASA folks what's what with his ready-to-fly Big Dumb Booster, piloted by a genetically enhanced super-squid. But Malenfant's near-term plans to exploit the asteroids get diverted when he crosses paths with creepy mathematician and eschatologist Cornelius Taine. Applying Bayes's theorem and a series of other statistical do-si-dos, Taine convinces Malenfant that an inescapable extinction event--the "Carter catastrophe"--is nigh, and that even working to colonize the galaxy might not be enough to save humanity. The answer: build a Feynman "radio" to listen to the future and, by detecting coded quantum waves traveling back through time, divine the fate of human "downstreamers" and find the key to their survival. Space flight, time travel, and even squid negotiations ensue, while Earth is gripped in Last Days madness.
Once again, the award-spangled Baxter gives us sci-fi at its beard-stroking best, with an imaginative, audacious plot line that's firmly grounded in good science, reminiscent of Baxter's own excellent Vacuum Diagrams. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
This first volume of Baxter's "Manifold" triad is a tour de force of exposition masquerading as fiction. The writing is plenty lively enough, but this is the kind of hard s-f (one of the more satisfying kinds, for my money) in which the plot consists less in what happens to our heroes than in what dawns on them.
The characters themselves are two dimensional figures, stolen from old Heinlein stock, elitist and tiresomely self-confident and too crammed with genius to be believed. But that's okay. They are only there as screens onto which Baxter can project his dazzling tutorials on topology, time travel via retarded waves, paradoxical consequences of Bayesian statistics, sound ethical justifications for destroying the universe, and cosmology as a branch of genetics, among other perfectly serious loopy ideas. Who cares if the screen is two dimensional, if the movie succeeds in adding dimensions to your mind (almost painlessly) just for the price of admission?
The scale of Baxter's imagination is so large that I often couldn't settle on whether what I was reading was comical or awe-inspiring. And from chapter to chapter the scale keeps expanding. Think Olaf Stapledon on speed, and you'll hit near the mark.
Happily, volume one is completely self contained. So much so that it's not possible to conceive of a "sequel." The remaining two "Manifold" books take place in alternate universes that merely happen to include the same characters. So if you share my phobia of trilogies and tetralogies ("Do I dare crack this book, knowing that if I even half like it I'll have to read the rest to see how it comes out?"), fear no more. By the time this one volume is over, it has *all* come out, in spades. You can wait a decade or two to pick up the "next" volume, if you like, without dropping any threads.
If you like hard science fiction, you owe it to yourself to sample Baxter, and this is a fine place to start.
So there is certainly enough of the `hard stuff' to satisfy any science enthusiast. But what of the story? This, perhaps, is just as wild as the science, imagining a single individual, Reid Malenfant, trying to propel the world into true space travel, real exploitation of the resources available there, who is just rich enough, and brilliant enough, to possibly bring it off, in the face of the by now de rigor opposition by environmentalists, NASA, EPA, FBI, Congress, and all the rest of the alphabet soup. But Reid becomes sidetracked when he is led to see what he believes is a message from the far future, causing a change of target to a small asteroid with an unusual orbit locked to Earth's. The initial probe is manned by an enhanced squid, whose development and behaviors from a significant sub-plot. But discovered on the asteroid is an obvious `artifact', (clearly a crib from Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey), a glowing blue ring that apparently leads to other times and universes.
In the meantime, on Earth there has been a sudden appearance of `Blue Children', fantastically intelligent, semi-autistic, who quickly gain the abhorrence of almost all `normal' people as different, a threat to humanity as homo sapiens. Gathered together, these children apparently invent a machine to capture a quantum nugget, with perhaps dire consequences for the world.Read more ›
Having just finished the book, I'm still in that post-brain-melt stage; the science is staggering. You can't fault Baxter for throwing in as many theories as he does, and every one of them is put to wonderful use. As a suggestion, have a connection to the internet open so you can research these theories as they crop up in the book. Reading about Cruithne and Caribbean Sea Squid added a wonderful sense of learning to the novel.
If you're looking for a thought-provoking, hard science novel that never lets up until the last page, I thoroughly recommend Manifold: Time.
You'll love the one-line nod to Arthur C. Clarke's "2001".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really interesting but I found his overview of humanity depressing.Published 1 month ago by C.Warhammer
I don't give five stars. Nobody reads them anyway including me. Baxter, one of the great writers of the more current group. Sci-Fi firmly grounded in science and science theory. Read morePublished 5 months ago by White Rhino
Have been a fan of Stephen Baxter since Time Ships but will admit to having drifted away from sci-fi in the 80s, only dipping my toe into the genre on very rare occasions. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Kay Smillie
Farming black holes at the end of time, spawning multiple universes, seeding life in the multiverse. Cosmology at its best. For hard sci-fi fiends only.Published 12 months ago by Polarity Reversal
Maybe if I was a real science genius or had a great understanding of physics, I could have enjoyed this book more. I don't and I'm not. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Robert McCain
Bad science, weak plot, there's not really a protagonist just people you kinda feel sorry for.Published 15 months ago by Michael J. Martinez
I love sci fi... but this book was not very imaginative... It feels like the narrative of a geeky self-involved geeky engineer who wants to tell you what he thinks is cool stuff. Read morePublished 16 months ago by P. Ben
What a mind altering, time bending romp this was! There is no room for the limitations of the mind whilst considering the infinite possibilities...the ending was especially killer. Read morePublished 19 months ago by L. A. Veronie II