Stephen Baxter's Manifold novels have struck the world of science fiction like a meteor. Heralded by Arthur Clark as "a major new talent," Baxter stands time and space on their collective heads, envisions the future reflected in the past, and the past in the galaxy's most distant reaches and unformed speculations. Claiming the legacy of Heinlein and Asimov, Baxter now returns with his third Manifold novel-in which he uses an astounding adventure story to posit a breathtaking vision of the origin of species . . . on earth and beyond.
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December 31, 2001
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Excerpt from Manifold: Origin by Stephen Baxter
Do you know me Do you know where you are Oh, Malenfant . . .
I know you. And you ' re just what you always were, an incorrigible space cadet. That ' s how we both finished up stranded here, isn ' t it I remember how I loved to hear you talk when we were kids. When everybody else was snuggling at the drive-in, you used to lec- ture me on how space is a high frontier, a sky to be mined, a resource for humanity.
But is that all there is Is the sky really nothing more than an empty stage for mankind to strut and squabble
And what if we blew ourselves up before we ever got to the stars Would the universe just evolve on, a huge piece of clockwork slowly running down, utterly devoid of life and mind
How ' desolating. Surely it couldn ' t be like that. All those suns and worlds spinning through the void, the grand complexity of creation unwinding all the way out of the Big Bang itself . . . You always said you just couldn ' t believe that there was nobody out there looking back at you down here.
But if so, where is everybody
This is the Fermi Paradox ' right, Malenfant If the aliens existed, they would be here. I heard you lecture on that so often I could recite it in my sleep.
But I agree with you. It ' s powerful strange. I ' m sure Fermi is telling us something very profound about the nature of the universe we live in. It is as if we are all embedded in a vast graph of possibilities, a graph with an axis marked time, for our own future destiny, and an axis marked space, for the possibilities of the universe.