- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 21 hours and 55 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: August 4, 2015
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B012E5LY4Y
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Ultima: Proxima, Book 2 Audiobook – Unabridged
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I did find the human characters mostly not likeable (except for Yuri and the Romans). However, I think my dislike is related to the fact that the characters are realistic - some are unimaginative, some are selfish, some are disloyal, some are clueless, some are delusional, some are competent, and some are good (ColU).
Nevertheless, the best part of the book, in my opinion, is the ending. Usually, after spinning complex stories, science fiction authors tend to write abrupt endings that are either cop-out explanations, ex-machina, or they raise more questions than you had before. Not Baxter, not in Ultima. The final reveal is beautiful, unexpected, a little sad and a little happy. But overall, it's consistent with the rest of the book. Consistent in tone, in message and in metaphor.
Finally, this is one of the more scientifically rigorous and well thought out books I've read, which is refreshing.
I was going to say that I would have liked the book to be a little more action packed, with a more optimistic ending, but that would have taken away from the quality of the narrative.
The only gripe I have is that I found the scenarios a bit flimsy. For example, at one point evolution is painted as having practically halted due to an unchanging environment. This is not very likely as lifeforms themselves create ongoing competition for resources and so life itself results in a dynamic environment conducive to evolution.
In any case the example above got me thinking about why I regarded it as flawed. This means it provoked thought and really, what more can you ask of a good sci-fi read? I recommend it, but read the first book in the series, Proxima, before reading this one for a complete picture.
When I first read that the book would entail ancient Romans with no computer technology conquering space, I braced myself for the worst, because I hate steampunk. But Baxter only does "hard" science fiction, and he made it all work.
By the end of this book, I felt great affection for those space-faring Romans, and for ColU, the intelligent farming machine from the previous book.
Some writers would fail and fall into cliches if they tried to make a robot have heart, but not Baxter.
There are just too many good things about this book. Definitely read Proxima first, if you haven't already. But do read Ultima. So, so good.