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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Expansive novel
When I first picked up Manifold: Time I was unimpressed and put it down after 15 pages. Weeks later when I started reading it again out of boredom, I couldn't put it down. This book has some of the first new ideas I've come across in a while. Baxter isn't the GREATEST writer of all time, but he is the perfect man for this story. In a way, I see Manifold Time as...
Published on May 1 2004 by Chris Cercone

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3.0 out of 5 stars The Final Fate of the Universe - Or is It?
For some reason, the current theories about just how our universe came to be and what its ultimate fate will be seems to have captivated many hard SF practitioners in the last few years. This book is certainly a member of that group (to the extreme!), but it also throws in backward quantum waves, quantum nuggets, Bayesian statistics, and an impending catastrophe that will...
Published on July 18 2004 by Patrick Shepherd


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Expansive novel, May 1 2004
By 
Chris Cercone (Washington DC and California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
When I first picked up Manifold: Time I was unimpressed and put it down after 15 pages. Weeks later when I started reading it again out of boredom, I couldn't put it down. This book has some of the first new ideas I've come across in a while. Baxter isn't the GREATEST writer of all time, but he is the perfect man for this story. In a way, I see Manifold Time as scientific theology. It gives all life purpose, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
That all said, this book probably isn't for you if you hate science and want more of a space opera.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind candy you can get your teeth into, Oct. 26 2003
By 
Royce E. Buehler "figvine" (Cambridge, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
(***1/2)
This first volume of Baxter's "Manifold" triad is a tour de force of exposition masquerading as fiction. The writing is plenty lively enough, but this is the kind of hard s-f (one of the more satisfying kinds, for my money) in which the plot consists less in what happens to our heroes than in what dawns on them.
The characters themselves are two dimensional figures, stolen from old Heinlein stock, elitist and tiresomely self-confident and too crammed with genius to be believed. But that's okay. They are only there as screens onto which Baxter can project his dazzling tutorials on topology, time travel via retarded waves, paradoxical consequences of Bayesian statistics, sound ethical justifications for destroying the universe, and cosmology as a branch of genetics, among other perfectly serious loopy ideas. Who cares if the screen is two dimensional, if the movie succeeds in adding dimensions to your mind (almost painlessly) just for the price of admission?
The scale of Baxter's imagination is so large that I often couldn't settle on whether what I was reading was comical or awe-inspiring. And from chapter to chapter the scale keeps expanding. Think Olaf Stapledon on speed, and you'll hit near the mark.
Happily, volume one is completely self contained. So much so that it's not possible to conceive of a "sequel." The remaining two "Manifold" books take place in alternate universes that merely happen to include the same characters. So if you share my phobia of trilogies and tetralogies ("Do I dare crack this book, knowing that if I even half like it I'll have to read the rest to see how it comes out?"), fear no more. By the time this one volume is over, it has *all* come out, in spades. You can wait a decade or two to pick up the "next" volume, if you like, without dropping any threads.
If you like hard science fiction, you owe it to yourself to sample Baxter, and this is a fine place to start.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Final Fate of the Universe - Or is It?, July 18 2004
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
For some reason, the current theories about just how our universe came to be and what its ultimate fate will be seems to have captivated many hard SF practitioners in the last few years. This book is certainly a member of that group (to the extreme!), but it also throws in backward quantum waves, quantum nuggets, Bayesian statistics, and an impending catastrophe that will literally wipe out humanity.
So there is certainly enough of the 'hard stuff' to satisfy any science enthusiast. But what of the story? This, perhaps, is just as wild as the science, imagining a single individual, Reid Malenfant, trying to propel the world into true space travel, real exploitation of the resources available there, who is just rich enough, and brilliant enough, to possibly bring it off, in the face of the by now de rigor opposition by environmentalists, NASA, EPA, FBI, Congress, and all the rest of the alphabet soup. But Reid becomes sidetracked when he is led to see what he believes is a message from the far future, causing a change of target to a small asteroid with an unusual orbit locked to Earth's. The initial probe is manned by an enhanced squid, whose development and behaviors from a significant sub-plot. But discovered on the asteroid is an obvious 'artifact', (clearly a crib from Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey), a glowing blue ring that apparently leads to other times and universes.
In the meantime, on Earth there has been a sudden appearance of 'Blue Children', fantastically intelligent, semi-autistic, who quickly gain the abhorrence of almost all 'normal' people as different, a threat to humanity as homo sapiens. Gathered together, these children apparently invent a machine to capture a quantum nugget, with perhaps dire consequences for the world.
How these separate threads get folded together into a truly gorgeous trip through the history and future of not just our universe, but many others, (a near biological spawning of universe from universe, each growing towards conditions that might spawn intelligent life), becomes complicated, and the vision itself has to carry the story, reminiscent of Olaf Stapledon in his wilder moments. Baxter almost brings this off, as the vision truly is grand, but in presenting this he seems to lose sight of the story of his characters, and the ultimate message of the book is either extremely depressing or seemingly irrelevant to people of today.
The science is real, the complications of the story worthy of something by A. E. van Vogt, but plot and science alone cannot carry the full weight of this story. His characters are introduced well, and I could easily believe in someone like Reid or his former wife and even Cornelius, but their growth (or lack of it) through the later parts of the story did not quite ring true. Neither did the portrayed world reaction to the Blue Children, the message of impending calamity, or the message from the future. A good attempt, but not fully successful.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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3.0 out of 5 stars On second thought, hold the calamari--I'll have the salad, Sept. 16 2003
By 
lb136 "lb136" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
As a science lesson "Manifold Time" works to perfection. Unfortunately it's supposed to be a fiction book. The science, anyhow, is certainly fascinating. Radio waves beamed back to the past; "quark nuggets"; "vacuum decay"; multiple evolving universes--all real, according to the author's afterword, and all quite challenging.
And there's this loopy probability puzzle known as the Carter Catastrophe here. It, too, is real, says Mr. Baxter. But then, so is Zeno's Paradox. I wouldn't get worked up about Carter, although the characters in the book certainly do.
That's because the author wants them to get worked up. Mr. Baxter, like Woody Allen in one of his films, is apparently in a funk because the universe is expanding and will eventually wither away by heat death. So why bother? Especially since, well, Mr. Baxter, despite all the fascinating theories about evolving universes, seems to believe we're pretty much alone here--against all odds.
And because a few billion more years of evolution, alone, don't quite do it for our Mr. Baxter, he's concocted a truly hashed up plot, filled with stock characters from a Heinlein parody. (His Reid Malenfant is just a pale copy of an RAH "grand old man"; his colleage, Cornelius, keeps bringing what plot there is to a screeching halt in order to deliver his science lessons. You may actually welcome those intrusions.) The simple folk go absolutely bananas worrying about this catastrophe while Malenfant, who at one point discovers he _is_ the center of things and hurls an invective at Copernicus, manages to take a grand tour of the manifold of universes--it ends up somehow in a virtual hotel room (don't ask!).
And then there are the "blue children"--annoying, brilliant but autistic, mini-Howard Roarks, whose grand scheme is to blow everything up in order to make the evolution of universes more efficient and woe to anyone and anything that impedes them from their appointed rounds. The two characters sympathetic to the children are a Congresswoman and Malanfant's ex-wife. Everybody else wants to delete them with extreme prejudice to prevent them from creating their new order, and after a while some readers may well feel the same way.
Others, however, may find this creation of a new order fascinating and necessary. Still others--those of us content simply to have life-as-we-know it hang on here for a few billion more years or so--may find that Mr. Baxter's scenario is, well, fascinatingly fascist.
Oh, lest I forget: also appearing here are intelligent space-faring squids. Feisty critters they are too. I rather liked 'em whenever they turned up. They're the meek, who inherit the earth, but by then it isn't worth very much.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hey Steve! Don't stop now!, Sept. 8 2003
By 
rylett (central, ohio United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
I have read this trilogy and this is my favorite, of the 3 books. Yes, it can be a little bit of a downer, but, what the heck, life can be that way too. Characters do disappear for periods of time. Don't worry, they will be back. That's not a problem, for me, either.
This is a very good book if you like "hard" science fiction and a well written story that does not go where you might expect.
If he writes a 4th, count me in.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stands out from a sea of mediocrity, July 1 2003
By 
Jane Avriette (Arlington, Virginia USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
Let's face it. There's a lot of crummy science fiction out there. A lot of fanciful fluff without a lot of meaning or purpose to it.
Stephen Baxter treads a thin line between fluff and hard science fiction. This isn't because he hasn't read up on what he's talking about, but rather because his science fiction is just *so hard* that it seems at some points implausible. The science of it didn't really impress me, I read a lot of scientific text. The fact that he wrapped all those concepts up into one book, and then leapt off the cliff with them impressed me.
He has quite an imagination, and wields it impressively. The one thing you might not like about this book is his somewhat peculiar plot trajectory. He sort of starts off slow (the aforementioned "bait and switch"), and then more or less gives the book away right about in the middle, and then it lulls down to this seeming end in futility. At that point it's almost like he starts a new book and begins talking about new ideas, to end in a somewhat ... awkward ending.
This isn't to say that the book leaves you feeling cheated or anything. What I got most out of this book was a deep appreciation for how much work he put in to it. It really was a fulfilling book.
Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Job, June 18 2003
By 
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
The world has turned stagnant. Big projects are not put into motion unless a profit can be proven to be made. A maverick, Reid Malefont wants to fly to an asteroid to mine it for its wealth using genetically enhanced squid. It is this background that Manifold: Time is written in the near future. As he draws plans for his project, a religious fanatic convinces Reid that there is an end of the world scenario likely to occur and the only way to prevent the catastrophe is to build a radio reciever to listen to signals from the future, which he does. The squid is rocketed to the asteroid and on the asteroid a gateway is found to other time/demension.
This is a well written book with a few flaws. The character development is done on mostof the characters just to move the story along which is fine except the reader will not care one way or the other for most of them. It is also the first story in a trilogy. So the ending is not the best because it must open into the second book. The basic premiss of the book is very depressing. The end of the world for humanity, but there is a way out. Baxter bounces from many of the characters including the squid to move his story along. My complaint is that as long as he stayed with Malefont, the story progressed nicely. But once he leaves Malefont, the characters are a little flat. Malefont is a perfect example of the type "A" driven individual with a goal in mind and the world be damned. He can be compared to a modern day Ahab. Every bit as destructive and driven as the 19th century version. Baxter also does a nice job with the squid and does not spend enough time on them which is a shame. This book is a good read and enjoyable.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Good squid!, April 27 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
I liked the squid. She was the best character in the book. The rest of it was more or less ok - definitely not something I would keep. Check it out of the library and save yourself the money. A good airplane book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Science, Good Story, but..., March 19 2003
By 
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
Manifold: Time is filled with some good scientific stuff, especially if you have an interest in quantum mechanics and similar fields but don't know much about them. It also presents some theories that are a bit more...let's say, wacky.
The story is also interesting. The plot itself was fairly interesting, and the way in which it is written - by continually switching viewpoints - keeps you on your toes. It tackles some neat concepts and in the end, comes out ok.
There a few problems, the largest of which is that the book has light material for a very, very heavy subject. This is a fun romp through off-the-beaten path science by an crazy billionaire mixed with apocalypse theories, the purpose of humanity, and characters that could have been drawn out far better. All of those are interesting (well, maybe not the last item), but do not mix well.
It also brings up some neat ideas about the need for children (and the need of parents to have them) which I felt could have been brought out a bit more.
In the end, a fun read, but I'd suggest one of the Xelee Sequence books (Ring, Flux, Raft...) for first-time Baxter readers.
Saltz
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Science, Good Story, but..., March 19 2003
By 
This review is from: Manifold: Time (Mass Market Paperback)
Manifold: Time is filled with some good scientific stuff, especially if you have an interest in quantum mechanics and similar fields but don't know much about them. It also presents some theories that are a bit more...let's say, wacky.
The story is also interesting. The plot itself was fairly interesting, and the way in which it is written - by continually switching viewpoints - keeps you on your toes. It tackles some neat concepts and in the end, comes out ok.
There a few problems, the largest of which is that the book has light material for a very, very heavy subject. This is a fun romp through off-the-beaten path science by an crazy billionaire mixed with apocalypse theories, the purpose of humanity, and characters that could have been drawn out far better. All of those are interesting (well, maybe not the last item), but do not mix well.
It also brings up some neat ideas about the need for children (and the need of parents to have them) which I felt could have been brought out a bit more.
In the end, a fun read, but I'd suggest one of the Xelee Sequence books (Ring, Flux, Raft...) for first-time Baxter readers.
Saltz
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Manifold: Time
Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter (Mass Market Paperback - Nov. 28 2000)
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