Thursday, 28 May 2009

Multi-dimensional book series

The novels making up a trilogy or series don't have to follow each other serially. Steven Baxter's trilogy Time, Space, Origin and the short story collection Phase Space are connected unusually - each tells a stand-alone story, but the characters and plot elements recur. Baxter uses parallel universes, and sends each story literally in a different direction, following a different space-time axis. Time follows the protagonist into the distant future, in Space he undertakes a very different voyage to the limits of space, while in Origin he finds himself cast from parallel universe to universe. The Origin here is also a reference to Darwin's Origin of the Species, and this novel explores alternative evolutionary possibilities.

As in many of Baxter's novels, the author shows off his knowledge of the world's space programmes (each novel features a different, though equally plausible "Big Dumb" launch system) and of astronomy, physics and evolutionary biology. The science is so clearly described that these could easily replace secondary school textbooks. Space also features a good, if scary, answer to the Fermi Paradox.

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