Saturday, November 4, 2017

Science Fiction Saturday: Stephen Baxter


Stephen Baxter is a prolific British hard SF author who has written some of the most mind-blowing SF of the last several decades. The universe is his playground! His best work is contained within the awesome Xeelee sequence, one of the premier future history series ever produced, going from the primordial universe to the singularity at timelike infinity. Here's a description of the sequence:
Baxter's "Future History” mode is based on research into hard science. It encompasses the monumental Xeelee Sequence, which as of September 2015 is composed of seven novels (including the Destiny's Children trilogy), plus three volumes collecting the 52 short pieces (short stories and novellas) in the series, all of which fit into a single timeline stretching from the Big Bang singularity of the past to his Timelike Infinity singularity of the future. These stories begin in the present day and end when the Milky Way galaxy collides with Andromeda five billion years in the future. The central narrative is that of Humanity rising and evolving to become the second most powerful race in the universe, next to the god-like Xeelee. Character development tends to take second place to the depiction of advanced theories and ideas, such as the true nature of the Great Attractornaked singularities and the great battle between Baryonic and Dark Matter lifeforms. 
Great stuff. Other good books by Baxter include the Manifold trilogy (Fermi Paradox fans, take note!) and the singleton, Evolution. I don't care too much for his various alternate history works and some of his other stuff is hit or mess. And don't expect elegant writing; he's no Paul McAuley. But that old "sense of wonder" hits on all cylinders with Baxter.

So dig into the Xeelee sequence if you haven't already. Meanwhile, watch out for those photino birds! And don't get me started on the dreaded Qax...

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