On Sale: August 7, 2000
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Stephen Baxter, Britain's foremost author of "hard" SF
rooted in real physics, is renowned for thinking big. Time
begins with a US entrepreneur's deceptively low-key plans
to reclaim space and exploit the asteroids, bypassing
NASA's bureaucracy and safety regulations. One bizarre
cost-cutting measure: the "Big Dumb Booster" pilot is a
genetically enhanced, intelligent squid. Then the mission
is redirected following a weird mathematical prediction
that humanity hasn't long to live, and a "Feynman radio"
transmission from the future that highlights a particular
asteroid. Here a space-time gateway opens on unimaginably
distant futures, stepping far beyond the dying sun of
Wells's The Time Machine to visions of a galaxy reshaped
by humanity to hoard its energy ... beyond stars, beyond
black holes, beyond even mass. And the emerging message,
seen most clearly by a new generation of persecuted, ultra-
gifted children, is that this seeming triumph--this total
exploitation of our universe's possibilities--isn't good
enough. A better path awaits, via a cataclysm that dwarfs
mere supernova explosions... Baxter pays homage to the
transformations of Clarke's Childhood's End (there's also
a nod to 2001), but without the mysticism: it's all
respectable, if speculative, physics. His final,
devastating payoff makes sequels seem impossible. Two are
planned. Rousing stuff, on a cosmic scale. --David Langford
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