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When it comes to cutting-edge science fiction, Stephen Baxter is in a league of his own. His mastery of hard science, his fearlessly speculative imagination, and his ability to combine grand philosophical questions with tales of rousing adventure make him essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of humankind. Now, in Exultant, Baxter takes us to a distant fut When it comes to cutting-edge science fiction, Stephen Baxter is in a league of his own. His mastery of hard science, his fearlessly speculative imagination, and his ability to combine grand philosophical questions with tales of rousing adventure make him essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of humankind. Now, in Exultant, Baxter takes us to a distant future of dazzling promise and deadly threat, in which a far-flung humanity battles for survival against an implacable alien foe. Destiny’s Children EXULTANT For more than twenty thousand years, humans have been at war with the alien race of Xeelee. It is a war fought with armaments so advanced as to be godlike, a war in which time itself has become an ever-shifting battleground. At the cost of billions of lives, and with ruthless and relentless efficiency, the ruling Coalition has pushed the Xeelee back to the galactic core, where the supermassive black hole known as Chandra serves the Xeelee as both fortress and power source. There, along a front millions of light-years long, a grisly stalemate reigns, until a young pilot, Pirius, faced with certain death, disobeys orders and employs an innovative time-travel maneuver that, for the first time in the history of the war, results in the capture of a Xeelee fighter. But far from being hailed as a hero when he returns to base with his prize, Pirius is court-martialed, disgraced, and sentenced to penal servitude on a bleak asteroid. It is not only Pirius who pays the price. In flying into the future and back again, Pirius returned to a time before he’d left, a time inhabited by his younger self. And that younger self, by the pitiless logic of Coalition justice, shares the older Pirius guilt and must be punished. Not everyone in the Coalition agrees. Commissary Nilis believes that the elder Pirius, whom he dubs Pirius Blue, may have found a way to defeat the Xeelee. But Nilis can do nothing for Pirius Blue. Instead, he takes charge of the younger Pirius (Pirius Red), and brings him back to Earth, the capital of a vast empire seething with intrigue. There Pirius Red will discover truths that will shatter his preconceived notions of all that he is fighting for, even of what it means to be human. Pirius Blue, meanwhile, will learn truths harsher and more discomfiting still. Yet the most shocking revelation of all is still to come, waiting for them at a place called Chandra. . . .


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When it comes to cutting-edge science fiction, Stephen Baxter is in a league of his own. His mastery of hard science, his fearlessly speculative imagination, and his ability to combine grand philosophical questions with tales of rousing adventure make him essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of humankind. Now, in Exultant, Baxter takes us to a distant fut When it comes to cutting-edge science fiction, Stephen Baxter is in a league of his own. His mastery of hard science, his fearlessly speculative imagination, and his ability to combine grand philosophical questions with tales of rousing adventure make him essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of humankind. Now, in Exultant, Baxter takes us to a distant future of dazzling promise and deadly threat, in which a far-flung humanity battles for survival against an implacable alien foe. Destiny’s Children EXULTANT For more than twenty thousand years, humans have been at war with the alien race of Xeelee. It is a war fought with armaments so advanced as to be godlike, a war in which time itself has become an ever-shifting battleground. At the cost of billions of lives, and with ruthless and relentless efficiency, the ruling Coalition has pushed the Xeelee back to the galactic core, where the supermassive black hole known as Chandra serves the Xeelee as both fortress and power source. There, along a front millions of light-years long, a grisly stalemate reigns, until a young pilot, Pirius, faced with certain death, disobeys orders and employs an innovative time-travel maneuver that, for the first time in the history of the war, results in the capture of a Xeelee fighter. But far from being hailed as a hero when he returns to base with his prize, Pirius is court-martialed, disgraced, and sentenced to penal servitude on a bleak asteroid. It is not only Pirius who pays the price. In flying into the future and back again, Pirius returned to a time before he’d left, a time inhabited by his younger self. And that younger self, by the pitiless logic of Coalition justice, shares the older Pirius guilt and must be punished. Not everyone in the Coalition agrees. Commissary Nilis believes that the elder Pirius, whom he dubs Pirius Blue, may have found a way to defeat the Xeelee. But Nilis can do nothing for Pirius Blue. Instead, he takes charge of the younger Pirius (Pirius Red), and brings him back to Earth, the capital of a vast empire seething with intrigue. There Pirius Red will discover truths that will shatter his preconceived notions of all that he is fighting for, even of what it means to be human. Pirius Blue, meanwhile, will learn truths harsher and more discomfiting still. Yet the most shocking revelation of all is still to come, waiting for them at a place called Chandra. . . .

30 review for Exultant

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    This novel was something of a shocker to me. I actually expected a continuation of Coalescent with the hive-mind Romans even if they take place in the near future with more George Poole or perhaps a future Michael Poole, but nothing could be farther from this. (Not ENTIRELY true, actually, the hive-mind humans and a remnant 20-thousand-year-old near-immortal in Exultant gave us some continuity.) But in actual fact, Exultant reads more like a bonafide Xeelee novel. As in, pulling together all the T This novel was something of a shocker to me. I actually expected a continuation of Coalescent with the hive-mind Romans even if they take place in the near future with more George Poole or perhaps a future Michael Poole, but nothing could be farther from this. (Not ENTIRELY true, actually, the hive-mind humans and a remnant 20-thousand-year-old near-immortal in Exultant gave us some continuity.) But in actual fact, Exultant reads more like a bonafide Xeelee novel. As in, pulling together all the Time-Like Infinity short stories, references to Flux, Ring, and even a hint of what could come in some of the others. We jump right out of the past and into the deep future after two great expansions of humanity across the galaxy and 20k years into an ongoing rear-guard near-retreat against the inscrutable Xeelee project that herds stars into the center of the galaxy to make the super black hole in its center ever larger. Humanity is losing the war. Barely bringing the Xeelee to a stalemate, we've bred ourselves into a race of children designed to fight a losing war. For 20 THOUSAND years. Not everyone thinks this is admirable or smart, however, and this is where the novel starts. Expect all the timey-wimey stuff of Baxter's other novels. Closed Time-Like Loops are a major plot point and I think it's gorgeous. Closed-Time-Like computing, especially. Cuts down on the wear and tear of the computers. :) Moreover, this novel gives us one of the most epic moments in all of Baxter's future history, the push and last hurrah against the super black hole, the big reveal about the Xeelee's purpose, and THEIR great enemy. Since I was already familiar with some of these events explained in retrospect in the other novels, I thought it was something of a really cool treat to see it up close and personal. I may have been surprised with this novel, expecting something else, but what I ACTUALLY got was better. It was just... kinda out of the blue. Maybe it should have been billed as a direct Xeelee novel, marketed as one of the great and gorgeous battles of a galaxy-spanning mankind against a race who thinks we're less than vermin and aren't to be bothered with communicating with us. :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Betsey

    There was a lot of really interesting stuff in this book! I don't understand all the reviews that say it doesn't tie into the first book of the series, Coalescent. It totally does! Lots of ways. I like the humans as insects analogies, all over the place. And the different types of social insects. The dark matter theorizing, and the idea of the monads was pretty cool. I also thought that Baxter really pulled out of his mold in this book. It feels much fresher and alive than the Manifold series, f There was a lot of really interesting stuff in this book! I don't understand all the reviews that say it doesn't tie into the first book of the series, Coalescent. It totally does! Lots of ways. I like the humans as insects analogies, all over the place. And the different types of social insects. The dark matter theorizing, and the idea of the monads was pretty cool. I also thought that Baxter really pulled out of his mold in this book. It feels much fresher and alive than the Manifold series, for example. I love the little links to his other books too. I'm starting to like him a lot more as a writer, the further along I get in his timeline. This guy's got a huge and roving mind, I can only imagine what having a beer with him must be like!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Roy

    I would definitely call Stephen Baxter's Exultant an interesting book, but I would be hard-pressed to recommend it to anyone. It has some very exciting SF concepts, but they are buried in a plot that makes so litle sense and dialog that will make you cringe. Baxter is a man of ideas, but it seems he is too busy pondering grand concepts to put them in the proper context of a good story. There are truly mind-boggling concepts; even too many, it seems, because some have barely a page or two of devel I would definitely call Stephen Baxter's Exultant an interesting book, but I would be hard-pressed to recommend it to anyone. It has some very exciting SF concepts, but they are buried in a plot that makes so litle sense and dialog that will make you cringe. Baxter is a man of ideas, but it seems he is too busy pondering grand concepts to put them in the proper context of a good story. There are truly mind-boggling concepts; even too many, it seems, because some have barely a page or two of development. The most extreme was 'Concept space', a mind-boggling concept which is used merely to provide a deus ex machina solution to the protagonists. If at least the hard SF was solid enough despite the weak plot... As it happens, some concepts are hastily thrown together, then conveniently circumvented when they are no longer required. The whole "FTL Foreknowledge" concept, for instance, at the heart of the story, can be waived by the author when he needs the protagonists to fool the Xeelee. Their solution? Use the time-honored but 'risky' 'anti-Tolman manoeuver', which is never explained nor used again. Sigh. Another pet peeve I simply cannot let pass: Commissary Nilis. Nowhere is this guy made sympathetic, with his bumbling attitude, his obvious lack of oratory skills, his habit of walking barefoot everywhere and his smelly feet and armpits(!) Yet he is seen more often than any of the main characters, because he can send Virtuals of himself to annoy all of them at every corner of the Galaxy at the same time. Whenever he let slip a 'My eyes!', I was ready to gouge my own out of their sockets. If you're wondering whether to pick up this book because it is the sequel to 'Coalescent', then don't. Only passing references are made to Coalescent, and the difference in quality between the two books is such that it seems Exultant was written by a 13 year-old who got excited at reading Coalescent. If you must read a Stephen Baxter book, there are much better ones than this one. Coalescent and Manifold:Time are both excellent Baxter novels. This one is not.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jack Pramitte

    WOW! :o

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    What have we got here? Enough Big Ideas for several novels? Mind-bending physics? Characters that are just kinda there? The feeling that you just experienced something really cool that you can't completely explain? Must be a Stephen Baxter novel. This is nominally a sequel to Baxter's Coalescent, which I read several years ago and enjoyed. Exultant takes place in the same universe over 20,000 years later, so I guess it's a sequel in roughly the same way that Dune is a sequel to Hamlet. Especially What have we got here? Enough Big Ideas for several novels? Mind-bending physics? Characters that are just kinda there? The feeling that you just experienced something really cool that you can't completely explain? Must be a Stephen Baxter novel. This is nominally a sequel to Baxter's Coalescent, which I read several years ago and enjoyed. Exultant takes place in the same universe over 20,000 years later, so I guess it's a sequel in roughly the same way that Dune is a sequel to Hamlet. Especially if you're looking for far-future space opera, you could skip Coalescent and dive right into Exultant. This is a bit of an overstatement: there are connections (the descendants of the "coalescents" or hive-like humans show up once or twice), but this is really another installment in Baxter's sprawling Xeelee sequence. Our main character, Pirius, is a pilot in the war with the alien Xeelee, a war that has consumed humanity and slowed its progress for 20,000 years. Pirius captures a Xeelee spacecraft (something nobody has apparently done before), but he uses his FTL drive and finds himself two years in the past (for science reasons). He and his self from two years ago are put on trial for disobeying orders. He is sent to boot camp for army grunts while his past self is whisked away by a bumbling absent-minded professor type who has the radical idea that the war should be won and has an idea how to do it. The rest of the plot is fairly simple, if a "simple" plot can involve two iterations of the main character in different parts of the galaxy (helpfully referred to as "Pirius Blue" and "Pirius Red"), plenty of helpings of mind-bending physics, several religions/philosophical persuasions, thoughts on war, bureaucracy, and politics, and several particularly mind-exploding chapters describing the evolution of life (but not as we know it) from the very beginning of the universe. As a philosopher, I appreciate that Baxter refers to philosophy a lot. He even name drops Leibniz at one point - there are creatures called monads! Given that there are two iterations of the main character (and maybe one more...), of course personal identity issues abound. A lot of the characters seem to be confident that one is "real" and the other is a "copy." There's also a lot to think about with regard to war and its effect on society: does it hold us back, culturally, philosophically, scientifically? I would like a little more treatment of these issues, which Baxter brings up but doesn't delve much into. But then again there's a fine-to-nonexistent line between philosophy and all the super weird theoretical physics (this is something I say because it's true but also to annoy scientistic types). In any case, your mind will get a workout trying to keep up with Baxter. Be sure to stretch and drink plenty of fluids. If you've read Baxter before, you have a pretty good idea what to expect from his brand of Big Ideas Hard SF. If you want interesting, fleshed out characters in your science fiction, read Lois McMaster Bujold or Stephen King. Baxter's characters are, as usual, really more vehicles for the ideas. I tend to read SF for the ideas, so I'm okay with that. Baxter is one of the best contemporary practitioners of Arthur C. Clarke-style Big Ideas SF working today, although the galactic empire stuff reminds me a lot of Asimov, too, especially the archetype of the bumbling professor with radical ideas. So all in all, while I can't say I liked or enjoyed everything about this novel or that this is my favorite Stephen Baxter novel (that's probably either Evolution or Ultima), but there's enough of what I was hoping for from Baxter to keep me reading. That stuff on the evolution of life in the early universe in particular will probably stick with me for awhile. (See also my blog review: https://examinedworlds.blogspot.com/2...)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Saul

    After the digression of Coalescent, Baxter returns to his familiar settings of mind-bending physics and far-flung futures. This book reminded me a bit of The Forever War, but is a bit better done. Where Forever has relativistic effects, in Exultant we get full-on time travel shenanigans. Both feature the disfunctions of military life, cover-your-ass bureaucracy, meaningless wars and pointless loss of life. However, Baxter does a better job with the physics and ideas. Neither do a particularly gr After the digression of Coalescent, Baxter returns to his familiar settings of mind-bending physics and far-flung futures. This book reminded me a bit of The Forever War, but is a bit better done. Where Forever has relativistic effects, in Exultant we get full-on time travel shenanigans. Both feature the disfunctions of military life, cover-your-ass bureaucracy, meaningless wars and pointless loss of life. However, Baxter does a better job with the physics and ideas. Neither do a particularly great job with the protagonist, but I liked Baxter's supporting cast with the mysterious prophet, the hand-wringing Commissar and the bloodthirsty immortal. The parts about the true nature of quagmites and Xeelee were familiar to me from other works, so their big reveals lacked some of the punch I think they were meant to have. I guess this is one of the problems with linking so many books into a grand saga like the Xeelee Sequence; there are only so many big secrets the universe can be hiding. One thing I really liked was the careful descriptions of the Galactic core. I was almost done with the book by the time I realized all the locations were real. Arches cluster, Quintuplet cluster, IRS-16, baby spiral: all real; look them up, they're so cool. One thing I didn't like so much was the physics of the gravastar shield. As a physicist, I can assure you that (view spoiler)[any spacetime from which you can rejoin your original universe will allow a closed timelike curve to send information about you back into your past. Fundamentally, the gravastar shield cannot prevent Xeelee foreknowledge of an attack, since the attack itself must occur in our usual universe. That said, I guess it's possible the Xeelee did foreknow about the attack but decided to leave the Galaxy to humans anyway. Still, kind of a big plot hole. (hide spoiler)] But we can allow that when the rest of the story does such a fine job exploring the wonderful history of our universe and its physics.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Costin Manda

    Exultant, the second book in the Destiny's Children series felt a lot better than Coalescent. Not without its own flaws, it made the entire experience better, but maybe that's just me. The book describes a universe twenty thousand years into the future, when human kind has infested the galaxy, destroying all sentient races they encountered with their immense war machine. They are currently at war with a technologically superior enemy called the Xeelee, which are trapped at the core of the galaxy, Exultant, the second book in the Destiny's Children series felt a lot better than Coalescent. Not without its own flaws, it made the entire experience better, but maybe that's just me. The book describes a universe twenty thousand years into the future, when human kind has infested the galaxy, destroying all sentient races they encountered with their immense war machine. They are currently at war with a technologically superior enemy called the Xeelee, which are trapped at the core of the galaxy, pushed back by the sheer size of human forces. The war has waged for 3000 years and continues with no advancement of any kind, with the entire human philosophy focused on spewing more and more cannon fodder for a war that is neither to be won or lost, just endured. A rather bleak vision of the future, but fear not, there comes hope! Somehow, an eccentric aristocrat comes with all the ideas and resources to create the ultimate weapon that will destroy the Xeelee! And in the pages of the book it is described how they go at it. This is where the book actually fails, because at a such immense space and time scale, a solution of this simplicity is just not believable. You don't feel it in your GUT! But the book is well written, the style bringing memories of Asimov, and the ideas in it pretty interesting. Stephen Baxter is again applying Universal Darwinism to his universe, bringing more and more species and types of lifeforms out of his magician hat. The ending of the book is terribly naive, but without a bit of naivete, you cannot finish great space sagas in a single book. Bottom line: if you like space fights, military stratagems, character development, time travel, large scale galactic intrigues and a lot of techno babble (and I know I do! :) ) you will love this book. I do think that some of the great ideas in the book would have mixed nicely with late David Feintuch's writing. Anyway, on with the next book in the series: Transcendent

  8. 5 out of 5

    Florin Constantinescu

    Aaaa, so this is why the author had us read the boring "Coalescent" beforehand... No, really, we could've lived without it. "Exultant" is back in force to kick-ass far-future starship battles, hard-science, warring empires, cool concepts, even some cool character dilemmas. The action time-wise falls somewhere in the middle of "Ring" and finally shows humans engaged in battle with the Xeelee. The speculations on black hole physics here are so very cool. Can't help but 5* this guilty pleasure of mi Aaaa, so this is why the author had us read the boring "Coalescent" beforehand... No, really, we could've lived without it. "Exultant" is back in force to kick-ass far-future starship battles, hard-science, warring empires, cool concepts, even some cool character dilemmas. The action time-wise falls somewhere in the middle of "Ring" and finally shows humans engaged in battle with the Xeelee. The speculations on black hole physics here are so very cool. Can't help but 5* this guilty pleasure of mine.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michel Meijer

    For someone slightly interested in theoretical physics and space operas, this book is it. Stephen Baxter takes all kinds of physics theories and thinking and puts it to work in the story. The evolution of the universe and how it all came to be is a consistent plot in the books he made. This story plays at the end of time in his space opera, the big showdown fight between humanity and its big enemie in the Galaxy, the Xeelee. And somehow the fight is about sacrificing young soldiers on rocks in t For someone slightly interested in theoretical physics and space operas, this book is it. Stephen Baxter takes all kinds of physics theories and thinking and puts it to work in the story. The evolution of the universe and how it all came to be is a consistent plot in the books he made. This story plays at the end of time in his space opera, the big showdown fight between humanity and its big enemie in the Galaxy, the Xeelee. And somehow the fight is about sacrificing young soldiers on rocks in the center of the Galaxy. And although the plot of young people in war is a known subject in all types of fiction, here it feels awkward at the beginning. We are here, 20k years in the future and all we do is let us slingshot into battle fighting a superior foe. The ways of thinking and acting are stuck for eons and people do not want to change the status quo. And there is the difference between the "decadent" ruling class on earth and the young expendable soldiers at the front. Somehow, it feels a little bit too artificial, despite Baxter putting down several reasons to believe. Personally I would have thought that hunanities greatest (and most horrible inventions) are done in wartime, and the inventions the protagonist invent out of the blue would have been made thousands of years earlier. Anyway. That was all theoretical rational thinking, since I liked the book a lot. World building is great and you are part of the war during story, you feel the stuck society and I liked the various players and their interactions: The old witch, the naive scientist, the youngsters the aliens. The writing sucked me into the story and this re-read was as rewarding as my first read years ago. Four stars!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This was definitely an interesting read, especially me being someone who is not only a science fiction fan but also a quantum physics fan. This books utilizes many current theories of quantum physics, and even builds a few of its own, and paints a universe more colorful and full of diversity than I had ever imagined. The story is long, so if you're looking for an action-packed experience, this isn't for you. The story seems unnecessarily convoluted, and drags on in many cases, leaving the reader This was definitely an interesting read, especially me being someone who is not only a science fiction fan but also a quantum physics fan. This books utilizes many current theories of quantum physics, and even builds a few of its own, and paints a universe more colorful and full of diversity than I had ever imagined. The story is long, so if you're looking for an action-packed experience, this isn't for you. The story seems unnecessarily convoluted, and drags on in many cases, leaving the reader to wonder how everything connects, and if it would really matter all that much if he or she skipped around a bit. But if you are patient and read through these slow moments, you are repaid in the end. All the major threads wrap up nicely at the end of the book, but after it's all over, I was still left with a few unanswered questions. Dull storyline aside, the science lessons embedded in this book makes me feel like I've just taken an introductory course in theoretical physics. It was a mind-expanding experience, and makes me want to dust off my science books and crack them open again. This book--as well as others in this series, is recommended for fans of hard science fiction. It's reminiscent of the work of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, Ben Bova, and to a lesser extent, Frederick Pohl. If you enjoyed their books, you'll enjoy this one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Omar Rivero

    Any Stephen Baxter book with the enigmatic Xeelee automatically goes on my "must read" list. This book was no exception. I was very disappointed in the previous book in the series "Coalescent". The themes of that book didn't gel for me and I frankly found the subject matter disturbing. This book was an entirely different case. It took me longer to read than most of my books, simply because Baxter does not write what we would consider page turners. As with his other Xeelee sequence books, I would Any Stephen Baxter book with the enigmatic Xeelee automatically goes on my "must read" list. This book was no exception. I was very disappointed in the previous book in the series "Coalescent". The themes of that book didn't gel for me and I frankly found the subject matter disturbing. This book was an entirely different case. It took me longer to read than most of my books, simply because Baxter does not write what we would consider page turners. As with his other Xeelee sequence books, I would read a few chapters then take the time to absorb the science and how it related to the story and its characters. Overall, this was a very satisfying read. I love that the Xeelee are always off-stage, yet a huge presence which humanity is fatally obsessed with. Hands down, some of the best hard science fiction I've ever read. If you're looking for Star Trek/Star Wars like space opera. Baxter is not it, and thank goodness for that.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

    My husband got this as part of a white elephant gift and the only reason I read it was because I was snowed in from work and bored. I was happily surprised! I liked how he handled the complications and paradoxes of time travel as well as the emotions, struggles, growth of the characters. Good book all around.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anton Hammarstedt

    Now this is how you write cosmic sci-fi! As a sequel to Coalescent it is a bit of a let-down (not really referring the events of the last book beyond a few throwaway references to coalescents being a nonstandard-but-fairly-common form of societal organisation), but it feels like a much tighter sci-fi story overall. I always get an iffy feeling when I read a story about military operations written by someone with no military background, so the pure military parts of Exultant reads a bit like John Now this is how you write cosmic sci-fi! As a sequel to Coalescent it is a bit of a let-down (not really referring the events of the last book beyond a few throwaway references to coalescents being a nonstandard-but-fairly-common form of societal organisation), but it feels like a much tighter sci-fi story overall. I always get an iffy feeling when I read a story about military operations written by someone with no military background, so the pure military parts of Exultant reads a bit like John Scalzi, but given the society depicted I feel like slightly dumb strategy (or rather, dumb tactics) kind of fits. Exultant reads a bit like "What if the Imperium in Warhammer 40K was an actual functional society?". The 3rd Expansion is a dystopian hellscape from a modern POV, but it is presented in a kind of similar way to how the Third Reich is presented in Fatherland, that is, a society that we would never want to exchange for our own, but that isn't obviously dystopian from the point of view of most people in it because they know nothing else. Since the society in Exultant is thousands of years old (as opposed to the 40-ish years of the Reich's proclaimed 1000 in Fatherland), it feels very much like how it would actually be. The world-building is spartan, but well-executed: You don't get a lot of detail about the world, but you do get the sense that it is as grand in scope as the narrative claims. You get a real sense that things have happened before in this universe, you get a sense that things continue to happen beyond the scope of what the characters see and hear about, and it all serves to strengthen the central idea that I won't tell you about because I don't want to spoil it. Setting presentation, design and originality (how cool is the setting?): 3 Setting verisimillitude and detail (how much sense does the setting make?): 3 Plot design, presentation and originality (How well-crafted was the plot, in the dramaturgic sense?): 4 Plot and character verisimillitude (How much sense did the plot and motivations make? Did events follow from motivations?): 4 Characterization and character development: 5 Character sympatheticness: 5 Prose: 4 Page turner factor: 5 Mind blown factor: 5 Final (weighted) score: 4.4

  14. 5 out of 5

    SaberSnail

    I'll say up front that I'm a big fan of Stephen Baxter. However, he definitely has a tendency to cover some similar themes and styles in his stories. Therefore, I was happy to find that this book was a little bit of a refreshing change from his typical offerings (while still retaining most of what makes his style distinct). This book has a fairly tight plot, rather than being a sprawling epic which he sometimes wanders off into. Not only that, but the book doesn't end with there only being one m I'll say up front that I'm a big fan of Stephen Baxter. However, he definitely has a tendency to cover some similar themes and styles in his stories. Therefore, I was happy to find that this book was a little bit of a refreshing change from his typical offerings (while still retaining most of what makes his style distinct). This book has a fairly tight plot, rather than being a sprawling epic which he sometimes wanders off into. Not only that, but the book doesn't end with there only being one member of humanity left alive! *shock* This particular book does fit very easily into Baxter's common universe, and nicely covers an era that hadn't yet seen much detail.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Russell Emmerson

    This sets up part of the bigger picture of the series. Unfortunately it also fails to bring readers from Book 1 along. There is some tie-in but it’s difficult to recover when you spend the first third of the book wondering why you’re reading it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    betty c. spencer

    From before the beginning of time A gripping tour d'force of modern cosmology and understandable quantum physics in a compelling matrix of life, lust and galactic conflict. Complex but entertaining.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Falbs

    Vast in scope, a ton of big ideas here, from time travel to FTL speeds, a fun read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Walden Effingham

    not at all bad- good space opera.....

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pavel Lishin

    I liked it, but "trench warfare in space" kept breaking my suspension of disbelief.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Another tour de force in Baxter's Destiny's Children series! Keeps you going and guessing til right up to the end, including time line bifurcations, black holes, Xelee, oh my!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    ok but not great, not a high reading level - almost YA

  22. 4 out of 5

    Svetlana

    The third part of the book really saved it for me. It brought a lot of things together from previous Xeelee books and stories and I really liked that part. However I found it difficult to really engage with the main story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tom Loock

    Abandoned at ca. 15% - thus no rating. Had hoped for a continuation of the story from 'Coalescent', but this one takes place 10k+ years in the future -and is also very SF with lots of jargon that is way above my head. Furthermore I have learned that it would be advisable to read the Xeelee-novels first. Baxter is a great writer and I will definitely read other books of his; not this one though.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark Easter

    From Publishers Weekly Military SF fans will relish the second entry in Baxter's Destiny's Children trilogy, set long after the events recounted in 2003's Coalescent. When navy pilot Pirius and his crew violate protocol during a skirmish with the alien Xeelee and end up capturing a ship from "mankind's most ancient and most powerful foe," instead of accolades, two versions of Pirius—Pirius Red and Pirius Blue, from different time lanes—receive punishment. Pirius Red accompanies the eccent From Publishers Weekly Military SF fans will relish the second entry in Baxter's Destiny's Children trilogy, set long after the events recounted in 2003's Coalescent. When navy pilot Pirius and his crew violate protocol during a skirmish with the alien Xeelee and end up capturing a ship from "mankind's most ancient and most powerful foe," instead of accolades, two versions of Pirius—Pirius Red and Pirius Blue, from different time lanes—receive punishment. Pirius Red accompanies the eccentric Nilis (we know he's odd because he never wears shoes) to the Earth system to research the captured ship and concoct a way to end the war, while Pirius Blue is sent in disgrace to the Xeelee front for army combat training. As Pirius Red explores the solar system, picking up clues to create a strategy to defeat the Xeelee by striking at their home system, Pirius Blue narrowly escapes death in combat and grows into a leader. Both come to question the doctrines that guide their lives as they realize the extent of their military conditioning. Weak characterization mars an otherwise well-told story as fast-paced action sequences flip to long, dry discussions about physics. Not content with one drop-dead hard-science idea, Baxter concatenates them, one building on the other; even his aliens represent ideas. Female readers may wish the author would take some lessons on portraying romance from Sharon Shinn. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From School Library Journal Adult/High School–In humankind's Third Expansion, the species has spread throughout the galaxy and assimilated all challengers but the mysterious Xeelee; in a 20,000-year stalemate, humans have kept them at bay in the galaxy's center. Time travel (used by both sides to gather intelligence) creates numerous "drafts" of time lines, but apart from this uncertainty the endless war has brought about a strangely static human society. Soldiers and pilots are bred in vats near the Front and taught only war; few survive past their teens. When Prius, a young pilot, captures a Xeelee ship and takes it to the recent past for study, an innovative program is begun to develop new weapons technology. While Prius Blue (the pilot from the future time line, now stuck in this one) is sent to the Front, the younger Prius Red (from this time line) must travel throughout the solar system with an eccentric but brilliant scientist in a quest for knowledge needed for the anti-Xeelee weapon. Working with widely differing elements of society, Red learns many secrets he'd rather not know, adjusts to new knowledge, and grows into a leadership role: he heads up Exultant, the elite squadron tasked with deploying the new weapon. Even in a genre characterized by unfettered imagination, Baxter's future universe is extraordinary in its depth, breadth, and richness of invention. Cutting-edge physics, subtle humor, time-travel paradoxes, and loopy twists combine to give readers a wonderfully original sci-fi experience. It can be read independently of Coalescent (Ballantine, 2004), which is set in the same universe but mostly in the present age.–Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Time travel paradox bifurcate the hero's journey. Baxter has a head full of great concepts, and not all seem to make it to the page intact. The war between human and the mysterious Xeelee introduces a lot of wild concepts (most familiar among them the idea of war as Malthusian population control), but when we meet the bureaucrats on Earth who command the war effort these ideas teeter on the brink of clumsy satire; when the younger Pirius is granted an audience with one such bureaucrat, the man be Time travel paradox bifurcate the hero's journey. Baxter has a head full of great concepts, and not all seem to make it to the page intact. The war between human and the mysterious Xeelee introduces a lot of wild concepts (most familiar among them the idea of war as Malthusian population control), but when we meet the bureaucrats on Earth who command the war effort these ideas teeter on the brink of clumsy satire; when the younger Pirius is granted an audience with one such bureaucrat, the man behind the curtain is hugely fat and constantly fed by a couple of attendants. Baxter later seems to lose interest in the war drama in favor of telling a weird and wild history of the universe, in which life proliferates everywhere: in the soup of quarks congealing out of the Big Bang, in the heart of suns, in curvatures of space-time. He takes his impressive knowledge of theoretical physics and, rather than hewing in the safe territory "hard scifi" authors tend to favor, goes out on a limb, confronting the limits of our knowledge, risking the occasional implausibility in order to make some points. I get the feeling that this is a stage in his Xeelee Sequence when these implausibilities have begun to crop up; the far-future technology used by humans in the book was reverse-engineered from artifacts of far more advanced aliens, and often seems indistinguishable from magic. Sometimes we see that Baxter is making a point therein, but occasionally I felt he was pandering, making an excuse to give his soldiers some wicked-sounding zap guns ("Starbreakers!" I imagine him crying after brainstorming a good thirty minutes at the ol word processor. "The proles will eat that shit up."). There is a disappointing familiarity to the ending, too. I don't think I'm being too spoilery if I say that there is a big space-battle and that in the end the heroes save the day. Baxter is giving us original ideas and original, mind-bending settings in his stories, and can it be too much to expect that he use these tools to create original stories? I don't think so, and I suspect that if I find the right Baxter book, he will deliver.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

    Even Beethoven wrote a few duds. This sequel to Baxter's excellent 2003 novel "Coalescent" is a real disappointment. Its connection with that previous novel is extraordinarily tenuous, and this is the first of many problems, since "Exultant" fails to follow up on some of the loose threads left hanging at the end of "Coalescent." But the problems with "Exultant" run much deeper than that. This is the first Baxter novel I've read that felt like he just phoned it in, like his heart really wasn't in Even Beethoven wrote a few duds. This sequel to Baxter's excellent 2003 novel "Coalescent" is a real disappointment. Its connection with that previous novel is extraordinarily tenuous, and this is the first of many problems, since "Exultant" fails to follow up on some of the loose threads left hanging at the end of "Coalescent." But the problems with "Exultant" run much deeper than that. This is the first Baxter novel I've read that felt like he just phoned it in, like his heart really wasn't in it. One wonders what was going on in the author's life during the period in which he wrote it. To being with, the characters are remarkably wooden and one-dimensional, which is not usually a problem for Baxter. And he misses a few opportunities to ameliorate this problem, especially with regard to the time-travel paradoxes introduced early on. The dialogue is tedious. The general story arc is hackneyed in the extreme: super-advanced extraterrestrials threaten the human race and a centuries-long galactic war ensues. Ho-hum. The twists which are intended to make the ending unforeseen are mostly predictable, and those which aren't are anti-climactic. Even the scientific and technological speculation -- usually one of Baxter's strong suits -- is belabored, floundering under gobs of perfunctory techno-babble. A weak Baxter novel is a rarity, so this one misfire will not prevent me from reading the rest of his works. It won't even stop me from reading the next novel in this series, since it may make amends by picking up some of the abandoned threads which were so tantalizingly set forth in "Coalescent." But I wouldn't recommend this for anyone other than Baxter completists.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Roger Bailey

    This is hard science fiction right on the cutting edge of physics, cosmogeny and cosmology just like I like it. The plot concerns an interstellar war with an unfathomable species and presents some interesting twists and turns because both sides can accomplish time travel and thereby can receive actionable information from the future. Just give some thought to how that would effect strategy and tactics. To me, though, the most interesting premise of the book is what is actually something of a sub This is hard science fiction right on the cutting edge of physics, cosmogeny and cosmology just like I like it. The plot concerns an interstellar war with an unfathomable species and presents some interesting twists and turns because both sides can accomplish time travel and thereby can receive actionable information from the future. Just give some thought to how that would effect strategy and tactics. To me, though, the most interesting premise of the book is what is actually something of a subplot. It is a subplot told in a series of flashbacks and these flashbacks flash back about as far as is conceivable. It turns out that an entire civilization rises, flourishes and begins to die all in the first nanosecond after the big bang. The beings that make up this civilization almost go into despair as baryonic matter begins to coalesce because that means the end to all of them. However, they get to work trying to survive the next stage in cosmological evolution. They have a certain amount of success too, but they would never have succeeded without primordial black holes. That is closely related to a statement in the book that says that the universe teems with life, even in the black holes and even in the singularity itself. To me this is fascinating stuff.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shane Kiely

    A sequel of sorts to Coalescent, this is the story of a millennia long war in the far distant future between an almost Spartan human civilisation & a race of aliens that exist outside the substance of our universe. In simpler terms it deals with a pilot named Pirius & how his potential to change the course of the Galaxy's history. So clearly Baxter felt Coalescent wasn't traditionally sci fi enough & decided to make up for that this time around. I won't even pretend to know anything about quantu A sequel of sorts to Coalescent, this is the story of a millennia long war in the far distant future between an almost Spartan human civilisation & a race of aliens that exist outside the substance of our universe. In simpler terms it deals with a pilot named Pirius & how his potential to change the course of the Galaxy's history. So clearly Baxter felt Coalescent wasn't traditionally sci fi enough & decided to make up for that this time around. I won't even pretend to know anything about quantum physics so I cant speak to the accuracy of how it's depicted here but there is a lot of it. The sheer amount of prose dedicated to science terminology is a little overwhelming, but I found I was able to get the gist of things more often than not. Despite this the book isn't completely dry, there's a well developed character interaction & action (it's also quite a solid science fiction war story) & the plot is well paced. Despite the occasional word dump of physics jargon it's still very readable (once again I say that as someone whose knowledge of that whole area is limited at best) & an original vision of the future that incorporates novel concepts about the origins of the universe.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Again, I'd really like to give this book 3.5 stars. Probably the most readable of the loosely connected trilogy that includes Coalescent and Transcendent, but the least provocative in terms of ideas. There is still great stuff in here. Love the "silver ghosts." What I like about Baxter is that he's not repeating tired cliches about a science fiction future. He's doing fresh stuff. The only author I can compare him to in the scope of his future historical vision is Olaf Stapledon though perhaps Art Again, I'd really like to give this book 3.5 stars. Probably the most readable of the loosely connected trilogy that includes Coalescent and Transcendent, but the least provocative in terms of ideas. There is still great stuff in here. Love the "silver ghosts." What I like about Baxter is that he's not repeating tired cliches about a science fiction future. He's doing fresh stuff. The only author I can compare him to in the scope of his future historical vision is Olaf Stapledon though perhaps Arthur C. Clarke also plays in somewhat similar territory.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This book is very different from the previous book. I enjoyed it a lot more. There was more flow to the story. There were times when it got kind of bogged down just for the sake of being bogged down I believe. I liked the fact that he talked about the coalescent in this book, but it wasn't really in the forefront, unless you talk about the military and the way they used kids for fighting. There was a lot of good ideas in the book and unfortunately, he didn't really go into too much detail. The ali This book is very different from the previous book. I enjoyed it a lot more. There was more flow to the story. There were times when it got kind of bogged down just for the sake of being bogged down I believe. I liked the fact that he talked about the coalescent in this book, but it wasn't really in the forefront, unless you talk about the military and the way they used kids for fighting. There was a lot of good ideas in the book and unfortunately, he didn't really go into too much detail. The alien seem to be there just to be there for some odd reason. The aliens that the humans defeated had more "history" and more "depth" than the actual enemy, which was unfortunately. The final story arc at the end started talking about the enemy which I thought was interesting... but was a bit short I think. Oh well... going to go and read the next book in the series.

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