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Time (1999)

by Stephen Baxter

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Manifold (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,763277,499 (3.52)26
2010. More than a century of ecological damage, industrial and technological expansion, and unchecked population growth has left the Earth on the brink of devastation. As the world's governments turn inward, one man dares to envision a bolder, brighter future. That man, Reid Malenfant, has a very different solution to the problems plaguing the planet: the exploration and colonization of space. Now Reid gambles the very existence of time on a single desperate throw of the dice. Battling national sabotage and international outcry, as apocalyptic riots sweep the globe, he builds a spacecraft and launches it into deep space. The odds are a trillion to one against him. Or are they?… (more)
  1. 10
    Existence by David Brin (Aarontay)
    Aarontay: Another resolution of the Fermi's Paradox.
  2. 21
    The Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert A. Heinlein (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: Both stories deal with a strong willed man struggling to leave the Earth relying on private enterprise and their own force of will. The stories do diverge wildly though.
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» See also 26 mentions

English (25)  French (2)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this science fiction mindbender. To call Baxter's characters one dimensional would perhaps be generous. However, Baxter is such a smooth writer that he gets a pass. Some of the scientific concepts he introduces boggled my brain (in a good way) and his descriptions really conjure up some amazing visuals. The book even manages to have a pulse-quickening climax. Fully intend to read more in the series. ( )
  usuallee | Oct 7, 2021 |
This book is porn for scientists, with the point of the erotic imagination focused upon highly abstract theory instead of bodies. As such, the characters are two-dimensional vessels who aren't fleshed out so much as they serve as either symbols or conduits for the author's scientific and philosophical jargon. Male, female, professional scientist or congresswoman, if you're a character in this book you're musing about paradoxes and subatomic particles with the best of them, or asking others to clarify the dense ideas Baxter is putting forth. That is, if you're not one of the shadowy, ineffectual antagonists that haunt the edges of these pages - bureaucrats, aid workers, or one of the legion of 'beefy' armed men (religious fundamentalists, vengeful parents, domineering soldiers) who step in the way of capitalist wunderkind Reid Malenfant.

Outside of his characters in particular, the author's conception of how humans work is rather masturbatory: imagine a universe in which the vast majority of people would experience an existential crisis and panic because of a logical conundrum. Or where all the major networks would devote live airtime to an interview with a spokesperson from a shadowy organization devoted to predicting the end of the universe. Humans don't act like humans so much as they act like references for the author's ideas, and to me, these sorts of events require leaps in logic far greater than a book filled with multiple worlds, higher consciousness perpetuated through looping thoughts, and the destruction of all creation, and it's hard not to see the author simply imagining a universe in which most people would actually read, enjoy and understand this book while valuing the scientific ideas he puts forward as much as he does.

The prose, even when not loaded with poorly-explained scientific theories, is tiresome and repetitive - Baxter is often so consumed with describing the physical minutiae of space shuttles, asteroids, and outer space in general that he either fails to realize or disregards how often he repeats terms even within the same paragraph (regolith being the most memorable). Details are included which seem meaningless and distracting - for exampl,e his liberal use of the brand 'Shit Cola' seems playful at first, a jab at consumerism, but doesn't carry through and becomes absurd. At times there are sentences which seem to contradict the events that follow:

"All of them were bundled up against the chill.

Dan, crumpled and slightly drunk, looked as if he hadn't changed his T-shirt since Florida. Cornelius wasn't drinking. He was wearing his customary designer suit, neat and seamless; somehow he seemed sealed off from this environment: green hills and silence and stately nature."

But wait, I thought they were bundled up?

Or, later in the book, when the military has been dispatched by the U.S. government to recall someone from the Moon:

"The scrap of paper had been brought here, all the way to the Moon, by a burly-looking Marine. He looked as if he had been ordered to drag Maura out by her hair if necessary."

Uh oh. Sounds like serious business, right? Fortunately for our morally-gray heroine,

"...after three days in space-presumably without proper training or orientation-this poor grunt was green as a lettuce leaf and looked as if he could barely stand up..."

Now, presumably the U.S. government was in a rush because the orders had come down from its new Christian fundamentalist president to recall this character due to her ties with events previous in the book. I guess they just really, really wanted her back - and they had no choice but to send someone with no space training whatsoever because, well, presumably all their space marines had been destroyed in a previous battle, and as demonstrated previously with the main male character's showdown with NASA, the US government acts really, really slowly even when it thinks you're doing something illegal, or just doesn't want you doing it, period. So slowly, in fact, that you have just enough time to launch a shuttle into space because the congressional delegation that's arrived to stop you didn't include any police.

But I digress.


The point is, these little incidents add a general surreality to the book, cause by and large by the fact that the author prioritizes trying to explain and play out very abstract theory over things like believable, sympathetic characters. ( )
  2dgirlsrule | Jul 12, 2020 |
Never finished book - about squid who are trained to operate space vehicle to special asteroid which has portal to future
  JohnLavik | Mar 29, 2020 |
Excellent read. Be prepared to think about quantum concepts that Baxter tosses into the narrative. ( )
  rondoctor | Jun 13, 2017 |
A really solid "broad spectrum" hard SF novel. It begins much like an updated Heinlein "Man who sold the moon" story, as Elon Musk-like Reid Malenfant (quite the surname) launches his own program to return to space, after being rejected by a moribund NASA (much disparaged here). But then Baxter mixes in large doses of Greg Egan, first on the biology side as Malenfant's astronauts are squids with genetically engineered brains, who begin to evolve rapidly once free of Earth. A message from the future redirects the mission and from there thing move into Stapledon territory, as we get not one, but two logarithmically scaled tours, in time and in space. Egan returns as the very nature of the physical universe is brought into play. As with Egan, things become pretty hard to follow, but for the most part, Baxter is far more successful at keeping the narrative flow moving and tracking the arcs for a handful of believable if not complex characters. There are the usual time loop paradoxes. The one part that did not work for me at all was the way in Baxter portrayed the world's responses to several events predicting humanity's ultimate outcome. I've never understood why SF authors are so fond of the scenes where the planet's population responds in some unified way to some semi-mystical discovery or message from beyond. When has that ever happened?

Despite that, this is a book that promises big things, science fictionally, and delivers. Highly recommended for hard SF fans. ( )
1 vote ChrisRiesbeck | Nov 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Baxterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Stevenson, DividCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To two space cadets:
My nephew, James Baxter
Kent Joosten, NASA
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You know me. And you know I'm a space cadet.
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2010. More than a century of ecological damage, industrial and technological expansion, and unchecked population growth has left the Earth on the brink of devastation. As the world's governments turn inward, one man dares to envision a bolder, brighter future. That man, Reid Malenfant, has a very different solution to the problems plaguing the planet: the exploration and colonization of space. Now Reid gambles the very existence of time on a single desperate throw of the dice. Battling national sabotage and international outcry, as apocalyptic riots sweep the globe, he builds a spacecraft and launches it into deep space. The odds are a trillion to one against him. Or are they?

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