Cover image for Manifold : Time
Title:
Manifold : Time
Author:
Baxter, Stephen.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Pub. Group, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
440 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Del Ray book"--T.p. verso.

The first volume of the author's Manifold trilogy.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780345430755
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Hailed by Arthur C. Clarke as "a major new talent," Stephen Baxter is one of the most gifted writers to appear in the last decade. His stunning novels combine state-of-the-art scientific speculation with nonstop adventure on a cosmic scale, continuing the grand tradition of science fiction pioneered by such giants as Isaac Asimov and Robert E. Heinlein. Now the multi-award-winning author gives us his most ambitious and accomplished novel yet. Audaciously conceived, brilliantly executed, it is nothing less than a masterpiece--an unforgettable race through and against time itself, with the fate of the universe and all mankind hanging in the balance. The year is 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. But as the world's governments turn inward, one man dares to gamble on 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. Battling national sabotage and international outcry, Malenfant's bootstrap company builds a spacecraft, plots its course, and trains the genetically enhanced Sheena 5 for her one-way journey. As apocalyptic riots sweep the globe, Malenfant launches the rocket. But Sheena has plans of her own. And even as she sets them in motion, the situation on Earth grows more desperate and violent. Now Malenfant--together with a brilliant but disturbed mathematician, a child prodigy, and his ex-wife--must gamble the very existence of time and space on a single desperate throw of the dice. The odds are a trillion to one against him . . . Or are they?


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In 2010, Reid Malenfant, former bad boy of space exploration and now an industrial-waste tycoon, pitches his old stem-winder about the purpose of humanity a-waiting out there to another group of prospective investors. But this time, things are getting critical for his great ambition, as steady supporter Cornelius Taine intuits. Taine, a mathematician, has ascertained that Malenfant is about to launch a probe beyond Earth's gravity, because, by the laws of probability, he has to. Otherwise, humanity would be unable to avoid certain destruction some 200 years hence, which is also predictable by probability calculations. But humanity can avoid that extinction, Taine says, and is signaling the present from the future to verify the fact. All that is needed to pick up the signal is a Feynman radio, and it so happens that Malenfant already has someone on the payroll who can concoct such a receiver--the scientist who has designed the superintelligent squid slated to be the probe's only passenger. Things get way more complicated before the world is wiped out on schedule, with Malenfant and others surviving it, and one of the complications is the inevitable love interest, Malenfant's ex-wife and continuing internal auditor, Emma Stoney, for whom he still carries a torch and who, in one of two realities in the novel, goes with him on a second outbound rocket into space. Brainy as this physics-heavy space opera is--clotted, in fact, with explanations, as if it were a nightmarish big kids' edition of Bill Nye the Science Guyits characterizations and dialogue don't quite rise to the level of those in an Ayn Rand epic. Still, there will be a sequel, for guess who else survives the end of everything? You got it--the squids, 'cause the one on the probe was, uh, expecting. --Ray Olson


Publisher's Weekly Review

Baxter is well known for both realistic near-future, alternate-history novels (Voyage) and the wildest sort of hard-science speculation (Flux; Timelike Infinity). In this first volume in his Manifold trilogy, he combines both types of story, beginning with what appears to be the straightforward tale of Reid Malenfant, a millionaire industrialist who tries to circumvent a near-moribund NASA and start his own on-the-cheap space program. Things soon take a strange turn, however, when Malenfant receives evidence both that humanity will be wiped out within the next 200 years and that proof of this claim can be found on a near-Earth asteroid named Cruithne. Throw in a race of mutant, starfaring squid; the sudden appearance on Earth of children with superhuman intelligence and a mysterious connection to the artifact Malenfant finds on Cruithne; a Cook's tour of literally hundreds of alternate universes; and a spectacularly unsuccessful romance with at least two endings, and you've got a novel that's as overgrown as it is misshapen. Baxter is the equal of Gregory Benford or Greg Bear when it comes to describing spectacular astronomical phenomena and truly weird science, and he shares with Arthur C. Clarke and Olaf Stapledon the ability to portray enormous vistas of time and space to great effect, but his characters can be clumsily drawn and his plots unwieldy. The first half of this novel could easily have been cut by 50 pages or so with little loss. Still, faults aside, there's plenty here to spark the veteran SF reader's sense of wonder. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

A meeting between failed astronaut Reid Malenfant and eccentric mathematician Cornelius Taine leads to a series of bold experiments aimed at averting the impending end of the world by bridging the space-time continuum to communicate with the inhabitants of the future. Baxter (Voyage) brings an inventive twist to the standard sf themes of time and space travel as he explores the intricate relationships between mind and matter. His use of multiple points of view creates a level of personal immediacy that provides a human counterpoint to a tale of cosmic proportions. A good choice for most sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Reid Malenfant You know me. And you know I'm a space cadet. You know I've campaigned for, among other things, private mining expeditions to the asteroids. In fact, in the past I've tried to get you to pay for such things. I've bored you with that often enough already, right? So tonight I want to look a little farther out. Tonight I want to tell you why I care so much about this issue that I devoted my life to it. The world isn't big enough any more. You don't need me to stand here and tell you that. We could all choke to death, be extinct in a hundred years. Or we could be on our way to populating the Galaxy. Yes, the Galaxy. Want me to tell you how? Turns out it's all a question of economics. Let's say we set out to the stars. We might use ion rockets, solar sails, gravity assists. It doesn't matter. We'll probably start as we have in the Solar System, with automated probes. Humans may follow. One percent of the helium-3 fusion fuel available from the planet Uranus, for example, would be enough to send a giant interstellar ark, each ark containing a billion people , to every, star in the Galaxy. But it may be cheaper for the probes to manufacture humans in situ, using cell synthesis and artificial womb technology. The first wave will be slow, no faster than we can afford. It doesn't matter. Not in the long term. When the probe reaches a new system, it phones home, and starts to build. Here is the heart of the strategy. A target system, we assume, is uninhabited. We can therefore anticipate massive exploitation of the system's resources, without restraint, by the probe. Such resources are useless for any other purpose, and are therefore economically free to us . I thought you'd enjoy that line. There's nothing an entrepreneur likes more than the sound of the word free . More probes will be built and launched from each of the first wave of target stars. The probes will reach new targets; and again, more probes will be spawned, and fired onward. The volume covered by the probes will grow rapidly, like the expansion of gas into a vacuum. Our ships will spread along the spiral arm, along lanes rich with stars, farming the Galaxy for humankind. Once started, the process will be self-directing, self-financing. It would take, the double-domes think, ten to a hundred million years for the colonization of the Galaxy to be completed in this manner. But we must invest merely in the cost of the initial generation of probes . Thus the cost of colonizing the Galaxy will be less, in real terms, than that of our Apollo program of fifty years ago. This vision isn't mine alone. It isn't original. The rocket pioneer Robert Goddard wrote an essay in 1918-- ninety-two years ago --called The Ultimate Migration , in which he imagined space arks built from asteroid materials carrying our far-future descendants away from the death of the sun. The engineering detail has changed; the essence of the vision hasn't. We can do this. If we succeed, we will live forever. The alternative is extinction. And, people, when we're gone, we're gone . As far as we can see we're alone, in an indifferent universe. We see no sign of intelligence anywhere away from Earth. We may be the first. Perhaps we're the last. It took so long for the Solar System to evolve intelligence it seems unlikely there will be others, ever . If we fail, then the failure is for all time. If we die, mind and consciousness and soul die with us: hope and dreams and love, everything that makes us human. There will be nobody even to mourn us. To be the first is an awesome responsibility. It's a responsibility we must grasp. I am offering you a practical route to an infinite future for humankind, a future of unlimited potential. Someday, you know it, I'll come back to you again for money: seedcorn money, that's all, so we can take a first step-- self-financing even in the medium term --beyond the bounds of Earth. But I want you to see why I'll be doing that. Why I must. We can do this. We will do this. We're on our own. It's up to us. This is just the beginning. Join me. Thank you. Michael This is what I have learned, Malenfant. This is how it is, how it was, how it came to be. In the afterglow of the Big Bang, humans spread in waves across the universe, sprawling and brawling and breeding and dying and evolving. There were wars, there was love, there was life and death. Minds flowed together in great rivers of consciousness, or shattered in sparkling droplets. There was immortality to be had, of a sort, a continuity of identity through replication and confluence across billions upon billions of years. Everywhere they found life. Nowhere did they find mind--save what they brought with them or created--no other against which human advancement could be tested. With time, the stars died like candles. But humans fed on bloated gravitational fat, and achieved a power undreamed of in earlier ages. They learned of other universes from which theirs had evolved. Those earlier, simpler realities too were empty of mind, a branching tree of emptiness reaching deep into the hyperpast. It is impossible to understand what minds of that age--the peak of humankind, a species hundreds of billions of times older than humankind--were like . They did not seek to acquire, not to breed, not even to learn. They had nothing in common with us, their ancestors of the afterglow. Nothing but the will to survive. And even that was to be denied them by time. The universe aged: indifferent, harsh, hostile, and ultimately lethal. There was despair and loneliness. There was an age of war, an obliteration of trillion-year memories, a bonfire of identity. There was an age of suicide, as the finest of humanity chose self-destruction against further purposeless time and struggle. The great rivers of mind guttered and dried. But some persisted: just a tributary, the stubborn, still unwilling to yield to the darkness, to accept the increasing confines of a universe growing inexorably old. And, at last, they realized that this was wrong . It wasn't supposed to have been like this. Burning the last of the universe's resources, the final downstreamers--dogged, all but insane--reached to the deepest past. And--oh. Watch the Moon, Malenfant. Watch the Moon. It's starting--- Excerpted from Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.