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Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter

Timelike Infinity (original 1993; edition 1993)

by Stephen Baxter (Author)

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468332,448 (3.63)5
Title:Timelike Infinity
Authors:Stephen Baxter (Author)
Info:Ace (1993), Edition: First Edition, 304 pages
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Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter (1993)



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Stephen Baxter has been on my radar for a while now, but the poor fellow keep getting pushed back in favour of more "flavour du jour" books. He is one of the elite sci-fi writers working actively today I think (among Reynolds, Hamilton, Scalzi, Stross etc.). I did give [b:Raft|100680|Raft|Stephen Baxter|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1171468835s/100680.jpg|829085] a not very enthusiastic attempt, couldn't really make any head of tail of it within the first chapter and then I was tempted away by another book that everybody was talking about; I forget which one, I'm just too easily swayed. Any way, I often come across mentions of "The Xeelee Sequence" in my travels around the interweb and it sounds very intriguing, I mean it's a sequence not a series for heaven's sake, who wouldn't want to read that! (Actually it is a series, but "The Xelee Series" sounds a bit daft, naysayers may label it "that Silly Xelee Series" to the author's mortification).

To begin with Mr. Baxter did not make a very good first impression with silly sci-fi alien names like Qax, Squeem and Parz (who is not even an alien). I feel that sci-fi authors tend to simply toss in an X, a Q or a Z to make up alien names, and the names end up sounding rather silly. The exception in this book being Xeelee which I think has a nice ring to it. You can't beat Slartibartfast for a sci-fi name though. Still, it must be very hard to come up with non-silly alien names and I certainly can not think of one so I decided to get over it. As I read on I began to appreciate why Stephen Baxter is at the forefront of today's sf writers, the quality of his plotting and world building quickly became perceivable. Better still, his writing is not at all shabby; I don't demand a lot of of literary merit from space operas and hard sf but at least the prose has to be accessible and the characters tolerable. Although the characters don't have a lot of depth to them at least some of them has some height and width. In any case Baxter excelled at the sci-fi-ness / sensawonder aspect of the story which is definitely a requirement for me.

At a mere 256 pages Timelike Infinity packs a lot of story, ideas and world building; this relative brevity reminds me of Golden Age sci-fi by the likes of Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein. I like how the Xeelees are presented as almost a myth in the background and do not actually show up because they are just too damn cool. This leaves the Qax as the alien stars of the story instead, and they are satisfactorily bizarre. The Xeelee's absence make them that much more intriguing and a nice hook to follow the series. The time travelling aspect of the book is also very cleverly done and it's great that Baxter did not rely on the old time travelling tropes about the paradoxes of meeting your past selves, killing your grannies and such. The little spaceship made from a small area of land is a wonderful concept, and one of my favourite sci-fi tropes that I never get tired of is the living spaceships. I can't get enough of these weird things with their wrinkly smelly interiors and massive eyeballs. I wish my car was like that.

All in all I am sold on this series, I'm going to rate this book five stars even though I suspect this may be too generous, I just can't think of any reason to knock off one whole star at the moment. May be one of them will go nova later on and leave only four. Time will tell. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
  jim.antares | Nov 12, 2015 |
Humans discover how to make wormholes that can pass a ship through. So we'll attach one end to a station around jupiter and send another one on a near light speed ship so that time passes more slowly for that end of the wormhole. This way you create a bridge to the future.

Only in the future man has been conquered by a hostile alien race and they've now got a doorway to the past...
An interesting thought experiment dealing with the consequences of crating a doorway to the future. As always with Stephen Baxter his characterisation is somewhat lacking, but a little better than some of his other books. Worth a read, but do yourself a favour and lookup somewhere what a timelike curve, a timelike infinity and spacelike infinities are before you read the book. I waited until after reading it to hit wikipedia and it would have helped my understanding no end if I'd have been familiar with the terminology first. ( )
  rufty | May 29, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Baxterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eggleton, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 000647618X, Paperback)

Timelike Infinity: the strange region at the end of time where the Xeelee, owners of the universe, are waiting! The second novel in Stephen Baxter's Xeelee sequence. First there were good times: humankind reached glorious heights, even immortality. Then there were bad times: Earth was occupied by the faceless, brutal Qax. Immortality drugs were confiscated, the human spirit crushed. Earth became a vast factory for alient foodstuffs. Into this new dark age appears the end of a tunnel through time. Made from exotic matter, it is humanity's greatest engineering project in the pre-Qax era, where the other end of the tunnel remains anchored near Jupiter. When a small group of humans in a makeshift craft outwit the Qax to escape to the past through the tunnel, it is not to warn the people of Earth against the Qax, who are sure to follow them. For these men and women from the future are themselves dangerous fanatics in pursuit of their own bizarre quantum grail. Michael Poole, architect of the tunnel, must boldly confront the consequences of his genius.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:32 -0400)

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