Cover image for Coalescent
Title:
Coalescent
Author:
Baxter, Stephen.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books/Del Rey, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
485 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.9 30.0 87229.
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780345457851
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Science Fiction/Fantasy
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Summary

Summary

Now, joined by his boyhood friend Peter McLachlan, who arrives in Rome with a dark secret of his own, George uncovers evidence suggesting that the women of the Order have embarked on a divergent evolutionary path. But they are not just a new kind of human. They are a better kind, genetically superior, equipped with all the tools necessary to render homo sapiens as extinct as the Neanderthals. And, chillingly, George and Peter soon have reason to fear that this colony is preparing to leave its overcrowded underground nest. . . . Stephen Baxter possesses one of the most brilliant minds in modern science fiction. His vivid storytelling skills have earned him comparison to the giants of the past: Clarke, Asimov, Stapledon. Like his great predecessors, Baxter thinks on a cosmic scale, spinning cutting-edge scientific speculation into pure, page-turning gold. Now Baxter is back with a breathtaking adventure that begins during the catastrophic collapse of Roman Britain and stretches forward into an unimaginably distant, war-torn future, where the fate of humanity lies waiting at the center of the galaxy. . . . Destiny's Children COALESCENT George Poole isn't sure whether his life has reached a turning point or a dead end. At forty-five, he is divorced and childless, with a career that is going nowhere fast. Then, when his father dies suddenly, George stumbles onto a family secret: a sister he never knew existed. A twin named Rosa, raised in Rome by an enigmatic cult. Hoping to find the answers to the missing pieces of his life, George sets out for the ancient city. Once in Rome, he learns from Rosa the enthralling story of their distant ancestor, Regina, an iron-willed genius determined to preserve her family as the empire disintegrates around her. It was Regina who founded the cult, which has mysteriously survived and prospered below the streets of Rome for almost two millennia. The Order, says Rosa, is her real family-- and, even if he doesn't realize it yet, it is George's family, too. When she takes him into the vast underground city that is the Order's secret home, he feels a strong sense of belonging, yet there is something oddly disturbing about the women he meets. They are all so young and so very much alike. Stephen Baxter possesses one of the most brilliant minds in modern science fiction. His vivid storytelling skills have earned him comparison to the giants of the past: Clarke, Asimov, Stapledon. Like his great predecessors, Baxter thinks on a cosmic scale, spinning cutting-edge scientific speculation into pure, page-turning gold. Now Baxter is back with a breathtaking adventure that begins during the catastrophic collapse of Roman Britain and stretches forward into an unimaginably distant, war-torn future, where the fate of humanity lies waiting at the center of the galaxy. . . . Destiny's Children COALESCENT George Poole isn't sure whether his life has reached a turning point or a dead end. At forty-five, he is divorced and childless, with a career that is going nowhere fast. Then, when his father dies suddenly, George stumbles onto a family secret: a sister he never knew existed. A twin named Rosa, raised in Rome by an enigmatic cult. Hoping to find the answers to the missing pieces of his life, George sets out for the ancient city. Once in Rome, he learns from Rosa the enthralling story of their distant ancestor, Regina, an iron-willed genius determined to preserve her family as the empire disintegrates around her. It was Regina who founded the cult, which has mysteriously survived and prospered below the streets of Rome for almost two millennia. The Order, says Rosa, is her real family-- and, even if he doesn't realize it yet, it is George's family, too. When she takes him into the vast underground city that is the Order's secret hom


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Baxter connects the lives of George Poole in the present and Regina at the end of the Roman empire. George's father has just died, and the picture of a girl, Rosa, comes to light in his effects. Rosa is the mysterious twin George never knew, and he becomes consumed with the desire to find her. Regina's part of the story begins in Britain at the end of Roman rule and takes her through the western empire's collapse to Rome itself. Back to the near-past: George's sister, it develops, had been sent to the Order of Mary, Queen of Virgins, which has existed, hive-like, in Rome since the time of Regina, one of its founders. George is Regina's descendant, and the order being rather a family affair, George arrives at many uncomfortable realizations as he learns more about it. Opening with an artificial anomaly discovered in theuiper Belt beyond Neptune and ending with disturbing extrapolation of humanity's future, Coalescent is a fabric of many slowly developed plot threads woven into a tight tapestry. --Regina Schroeder Copyright 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Known for his hard SF, Baxter (the Manifold trilogy) explores social and historical issues as well as human evolution in the first of his Destiny's Children trilogy, with mixed results. In the present, George Poole discovers that he has a twin sister who belongs to a mysterious, ancient quasi-religious order in Rome; in crumbling post-Roman Britain, Regina, founder of the order, longs to recapture the days of her girlhood, when she lived a life of stability and privilege. In alternating chapters, George and Regina each make their way to Rome. George meets his sister and begins to learn something of the order that took her in; Regina-complex, bitter, obsessive-crafts the order that lasts to George's day. Regina digs under the streets of Rome into catacombs for secure living space. George, distantly related to Regina, feels the familial pull of the women still living in the warrens underground, but when he befriends a young, pregnant member of the order, he realizes that they have evolved into a new life form, a coalescent one comprising drones working within a decentralized social order. Regina's carefully researched world never quite comes to life-Baxter tells rather than shows-and the feminist implications of a coalescent life form that exploits and alters femininity are not addressed. Still, Baxter provokes thought by plausibly creating specific circumstances that result in evolution. For now, it's unclear whether a coalescent structure is good or bad, though presumably later books will provide some resolution. (Dec. 2) FYI: Baxter has collaborated with Arthur C. Clarke on two novels, the first of which, Time's Eye, is due in January. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

The death of George Poole's father sparks George's discovery of a twin sister he never knew and evidence of a secret society called the Order. His quest takes him from England to Miami and, finally, to Rome, where he confronts the reality of a new kind of humanity. This tale from the author of the "Manifold" trilogy and Evolution takes place on two levels-the near future and the distant past amid the ruins of the Roman Empire. Excelling at both action-packed storytelling and philosophical speculation, Baxter's latest belongs in most sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter  1 I have come to stay in Amalfi. I can't face going back to Britain--not yet--and to be here is a great relief after the swarming strangeness I encountered in Rome. I've taken a room in a house on the Piazza Spirito Santo. There is a small bar downstairs, where I sit in the shade of vine leaves and drink Coke Light, or sometimes the local lemon liqueur, which tastes like the sherbet-lemon boiled sweets I used to buy as a kid in Manchester, ground up and mixed with vodka. The crusty old barman doesn't have a word of English. It's hard to tell his age. The flower bowls on the outdoor tables are filled with little bundles of twigs that look suspiciously like fasces to me, but I'm too polite to ask. Amalfi is a small town nestling in a valley on the Sorrento Peninsula. This is a coast of limestone cliffs, into which the towns have been carved like seabird nesting grounds. People have adapted to living on a vertical surface: there are public staircases you can follow all the way to the next town. Nothing in Italy is new--Amalfi was a maritime power in the Middle Ages--but that sense of immense age, so oppressive in Rome, is ab- sent here. And yet much of what shaped the horror in Rome is here, all around me. The narrow cobbled streets are always crowded with traffic, with cars and buses, lorries and darting scooters. Italians don't drive as northern Europeans do. They just go for it: they swarm, as Peter McLachlan would have said, a mass of individuals relying on the unwritten rules of the mob to get them through. And then there are the people. Just opposite my bar there is a school. When the kids are let out in the middle of the day--well, again, they swarm; there's really no other word for it. They erupt into the piazza in their bright blue smocklike uniforms, all yelling at the tops of their voices. But it's soon over. Like water draining from a sieve, they disperse to their homes or to the cafés and bars, and the noise fades. And, of course, there is family. You can't get away from that in Italy. Amalfi used to be a center for making rag paper, a technique they learned from the Arabs. Once there were sixty mills here. That number has dwindled to one, but that one still supplies the Vatican, so that every papal pronouncement can be recorded forever on acid-free rag paper, now made fine enough for a computer printer to take. And that surviving Amalfi mill has been operated without a break by the same family for nine hundred years. The swarming crowds, the thoughtless order of the mob, the cold grasp of ancient families: even I see visions of the Coalescents everywhere I look. And I see again that extraordinary crater, collapsed in the middle of the Via Cristoforo Colombo, with the plume of gray-black tufa dust still hanging in the air above it. Workers from the offices and shops, clutching cell phones and coffees and cigarettes, peered into the hole that had suddenly opened up in their world. And the drones simply poured out of the crater, in baffling numbers, in hundreds, thousands. Obscured by the dust, they looked identical. Even now there was a kind of order to them--but nobody led. The women at the fringe would press forward a few paces, blinking at the staring office workers around them, and then turn and disappear back into the mass, to be re- placed by others, who pushed forward in turn. When it reached the edge of the road, the flowing mob broke up, forming ropes and ten- drils and lines of people that washed forward, breaking and recombin- ing, probing into doorways and alleyways, swarming, exploring. In the dusty light they seemed to blur together into a single rippling mass, and even in the bright air of the Roman afternoon they gave off a musky, fetid odor. I suppose I'm trying to compensate. I spend a lot of my time alone, in my room, or walking in the hills that loom over the towns. But a part of me still longs, above everything else, to go back, to immerse myself once more in the Coalescents' warm tactile orderliness. It is an unfulfilled longing that, I suspect, will stay with me until I die. How strange that my quest to find my own family would lead me to such mysteries, and would begin and end in death. Excerpted from Coalescent 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.

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