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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Review: Manifold Time

Manifold Time is Stephen Baxter's novel about The Carter Catastrophe.

Baxter starts the story off about commercial space flight, getting you to think that it's a classic "entrepreneur-in-space" novel. The commercial space-flight section of the book (mostly about mining asteroids) is kinda hokey, since I don't see the point of sending water-based creatures into space. The amount of additional ballast required would be really prohibitive.

The Carter Catastrophe piece is not really all that convincing, either. Then Baxter brings in time-travel, casual time-like loops, and a mysterious new race of super-smart human children called the Blues. No reason is given for the rise of the Blues, and the human reaction to these seems highly suspect.

Everything escalates to a climax and then we get a let down at the end, when we see the fate of humanity in a surprising conclusion that's not very satisfying.

As is usual with Baxter novels, the characters are wooden. The female protagonist is even called Emma Stoney, and she's definitely appears to move through life as though she's stoned, hanging on after the male protagonist even after a divorce. You could see the puppet strings behind the characters.

Ultimately, I don't know why I even bothered to finish the book. I guess the plot felt a lot like an scab I can't resist picking at. It did take me more than a month though! Not recommended. (Disclosure: I picked this up during one of the many Kindle giveaways)

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