- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Saga Press (June 7, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1481479679
- ISBN-13: 978-1481479677
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 89 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #998,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Medusa Chronicles Hardcover – June 7, 2016
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"A worthy sequel to a classic." (Jack McDevitt , Bestselling and Nebula award-winning author of SEEKER and STARHAWK)
Two of the most acclaimed contemporary hard SF writerssuccessfully team up in this ambitious epic space opera, spanning almost 800years, that expands the themes raised by Arthur C. Clarke’s classic 1971novella, A Meeting withMedusa. Clarke’s hero, Howard Falcon, suffered horrific injuries in anaccident in 2080, surviving only by cybernetic surgery; his new abilities ledhim to a successful search for extraterrestrial life and positioned him to bean “ambassador... between the creatures of carbon and the creatures of metal.”That unsought status tests Falcon as, over the centuries, robots begin tobecome self-aware and seek autonomy. Humankind’s expansion of its reach beyondEarth provides more opportunity for conflict, and the authors do a superior jobof predicting plausible political developments. The novel’s reach does come atthe expense of some psychological depth, but fans of the authors’ other workwon’t be disappointed. (Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW* May 2, 2016)
"Clearly reverential but never derivative of Clarke’s original work, Baxter and Reynolds’ respective styles work in near-faultless harmony. A joy to read, it’s yet another feather in Baxter and Reynolds’ well-adorned hats." (, SciFiNow)
"The Medusa Chronicles is a good old-fashioned SF tale, strong on big ideas and filled with sensa-wunda and magical moments. There’s even some genuine surprises. It’s an ambitious if not audacious thing to try, and I’ll happily admit that I am a tough critic of anything connected to one of my favourite authors, who inspired me to read science fiction. My main worry before reading was that it would have been a pastiche of one of my heroes, but instead I found a book produced with respect for one of the genre’s most-loved classic authors. I therefore think it fitting if I say that I think that Sir Arthur would be pleased by this." (-- SFFWorld)
"A surprisingly substantial extension of "A Meeting With Medusa" suggested by chance “by Alastair Reynolds in the course of a nostalgic email exchange” with Stephen Baxter, The Medusa Chronicles tells the story of those very centuries, and it is—if you’ll pardon my hyperbole—frickin’ terrific." (-- Niall Alexander , Tor.com)
"The results are remarkable; Baxter and Reynolds may have been working out of reverence for the original story, but this is no mere exercise in nostalgia. It is a breathtaking standalone work, a sci-fi story of rare scope and intelligence, celebrating Clarke’s legacy even as it sets out for new territory." (, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog)
"The authors exhibit all the speculative brilliance for which they are individually known. With this book, Baxter and Reynolds honor Clarke’s legacy at the same time as they point the way forward for the continuation of Clarke’s brand of optimistic SF which is no mere wish-fulfillment “competence porn” but also a clear-sighted depiction of both the virtues and vices of our species." (Paul Di Filippo , Locus)
"A fitting tribute to the original."
About the Author
Stephen Baxter was born in 1957 and has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton. He is the preeminent science fiction writer of his generation. With Terry Pratchett, he as coauthored the Long Earth novels. As a world-renowned bestselling author, Baxter has won many major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan including the British Science Fiction Award (four times), and he has been shortlisted for the Hugo Award (six nominations), the Arthur C. Clarke Award (seven nominations), and has been awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Award. He lives in Northumberland with his wife.
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Our protagonist is Commander Howard Falcon, a character directly taken from Clarke, cyborg adventurist who after a full and active life tries to sit on the sidelines but is repeatedly drawn into conflicts as the necessary trusted 'third party' that both sides respect and will listen to. It is a role that incrementally grates on Falcon but each iteration of apparent Statesman is pressed upon him with increasing levels of coercion as conditions in the solar system become ever more inimical to human life and Falcon is forced to consider how his actions may have led to that.
Like in Banks' Culture novels, the technology that underpins Falcon's universe is generally deployed rather than explained. And for the most part it is not at the level of world shattering weaponry we usually find in a Reynolds story, but more human-level tech such as the various robotic bodies that carry Falcon through the centuries. There is also a nice backstory from the early days of NASA that sets the scene for the politics that drive the characters.
This is not an action-adventure novel in the traditional sense. It moves along at a reasonable pace, but it is the pace of one man living a long time while the world occasionally pivots on his shoulders, so there is a languid nature to the plot. Each chapter does not end on an obvious cliffhanger and for the time period spanned, the cast of characters is actually quite limited. All of which might suggest a boring read, but Reynolds and Baxter are experienced story tellers so "The Medusa Chronicles" never dips below the threshold of interesting. The characters are well drawn and the death of one - even though it was clearly going to happen chapters before the event - evoked a sense of loss.
If you like intelligent, thoughtful sci-fi that explores our moral compass and place in the universe and which slowly builds to a satisfying ending, then you will likely really enjoy "The Medusa Chronicles". I certainly did.
It is actually a sequel to Arthur C Clarke's award winning novella, "A Meeting With Medusa", but you don't really need to read this story. In addition to the sentient Medusae within Jupiter's upper atmosphere we also encounter sentient chimps, sentient Machines, and another sentient race within Jupiter.
The reluctant hero of this book is Howard Falcon, who due to a tragic accident is a cyborg. This story chronicles his long life and his attempts to mediate the conflict between Man and Machines. And to top it off the book has a great and very satisfying ending.
The story by Arthur C. Clarke on which this is based merits the label "classic." If you've not read that story, do seek, find and read first. Clarke's short fiction provided my effective introduction to the genre so very long ago. I don't read nearly as much in the genre as I used to.
I've read some by Baxter and not nearly as much by Reynolds. I got the distinct impression each tried as best he could to emulate Clarke's style. Homages abound both in the main plot and sub-plots. Towards the end it gets just a touch Stapledonian, but that's in keeping with the conflict that the protagonist Howard Falcon faces throughout the centuries, and possibly an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Of course Jupiter figures mightily in the telling of the story.
One very minor quibble but a quibble nonetheless: The story is set in an alternate timeline that occasionally jars the narrative. There are references to John Young (he of Gemini, Apollo and the Space Shuttle) being the first human to have walked on Mars. And Baxter had to have contributed a sub-sub-plot that reminded me more of his novels Voyage and Titan.