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Raft (Xelee Sequence, #1)
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Raft (Xeelee Sequence #1)

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  1,426 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Stephen Baxter's highly acclaimed first novel and the beginning of his stunning Xeelee Sequence. A spaceship from Earth accidentally crossed through a hole in space-time to a universe where the force of gravity is one billion times as strong as the gravity we know. Somehow the crew survived, aided by the fact that they emerged into a cloud of gas surrounding a black hole, ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 1992 by Grafton (first published 1991)
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Dirk Grobbelaar
This is another of those novels that really gives your imagination a workout. The universe Baxter envisions here is probably as weird as they come. What I really liked about Raft, was that the reading style was actually quite accessible, considering the science behind all of this. Hard science it is, too. Infused with wonder, the world of Raft is discovered little by little as the reader follows the revelations and discoveries of the protagonist, who starts the story with about as much knowledge ...more
What a nice surprise this was.

A highly entertaining science fiction adventure story from an author I have been informed is synonymous with hard SF, huge ideas and complex explanations.

I bought this one over a year ago and totally forgot about it. My recent exploration of new authors with the reading of The Mammoth Book of Future Cops encouraged me to try some Baxter, at which point I saw this book sitting on my overpopulated sci-fi shelf.

It was a remarkably easy read; a traditional adventure st
The first time I attempted to read Raft I gave up after may be 20 pages. I just could not make head or tail of it. It was my first Stephen Baxter book and I almost gave up on him. Still, he is one of the most highly regarded science fiction authors working today and I just have to keep up with the sci-fi Jones. Baxter’s best known work is probably the Xeelee Sequence of which Raft is said to be the first volume (in publication order). However, I do not recommend reading Raft first, especially if ...more
Rob Adey
It's easy to imagine that in his folder of notes for Raft, Baxter has reams and reams of sums and diagrams detailing how the unusual and varied gravitational set-up in this book hangs together. Maybe he even wrote a little program that shows animations of weird orbital mechanics. I'd like to see that.

Sadly, I doubt he can have written more than half a page on the characters who populate the tale, in pretty much the same sense that NPCs populate a Dungeons & Dragons module. Really, no-one in
Jonathan Cullen
Jan 13, 2011 Jonathan Cullen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: alternative universe weirdos
This is an alternate universe, lost-technology survival story. I enjoyed this one. A universe where gravity is exponentially stronger than on Earth is definitely a cool breeding ground for ideas.

My one nagging comment is that I was more enamored with the universe and the back-story than what was actually happening on the page. I really wanted more about how the ship got there and what those first minutes would have been like. As with all Baxter books I've read, characters take a back seat to id
Neda Stojkovic
There is nothing in the world of literature that conveys such wonder and love of understanding and knowledge as good hard science fiction. It's really fantasy at its best. It's protagonists are not really main characters in the book, but world, universe itself; humans in it just provide human eyes and emotions through which we experience the beauty.

This book is not an a exception - we find ourselves in the whole different universe, the one in which gravitational force in billions times stronger
Reasonably entertaining novel, although some paper thin characterisations, especially of the bit-part actors such as the giant miner, the undeveloped love interest, and the “boneys”. It felt a bit dated and even a bit ludicrous in parts, especially when it comes to some of the scatological descriptions – relieving yourself out of the stomach of a living, rotating, “whale” whilst travelling through a nebula . Some of the technical explanations seemed unrealistic too, although I’m no scientist, I ...more
Leslie M.
Hard science pulp survival piece, centered around the remnants of a human starship crew who stumbled through some sort of gate into a universe with physical laws differing from their native space. Namely, gravity is the dominant force, affecting the composition of everything from stars to life. Many generations later, the small civilization must find a way to survive revolution, revolt, and eventual escape from their surroundings in order to preserve what remains of the human race in the alien u ...more
Bingo! I found a new "favorite author." This book combines the various elements I enjoy - a hard technology perspective set in a fantastical environment with understandable/believable characters. The scenario and situation Baxter weaves is so fantastic, yet peppered with enough "real science" to make it an engaging and fascinating read - one of the more enjoyable reads I've come across in the past few months.

This is the first of many books in Baxter's 'Xeelee Sequence' and I'm now looking forwar
Maybe 3.5 stars. While there's some good SF in this universe, the book belongs to the humans-losing-their-science-and-tech subgenre. And that's not my preference. Also, I read it as the first Xeelee book and was disappointed that the Xeelee weren't there. It also falls into the interesting-setting-but-too-much-about-humans-squabbling type as far as my tastes go.
Roddy Williams
Part of Baxter's Xeelee future history, 'Raft' postulates a universe where the basic force of gravity is much stronger than in ours, and therefore one where the formation of galaxies and systems will work very differently.
Generations before the events in the novel, a ship passed through the Xeelee artefact 'Bolder's Ring' to emerge in this universe, only to find itself imploding under its own weight. Here, life can exist in nebulae where suns are small, and are created and die frequently. Mobile
Raft is a very imaginative book. It takes place in a universe where the force of gravity is much stronger than it is here. A human colony has been living for many generations inside of a nebula orbiting a black hole. The different physical conditions of this universe mean that the atmosphere inside the nebula is able to support human life.

The descriptions in this book are so strange and imaginative that to start with it almost feels like fantasy. However as the main character Rees starts asking
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dr M
Any book that starts out with flying trees is going to fight an uphill battle with me. Raft does this surprisingly well, but Baxter has set himself a difficult task in this the first book of the Xeelee Sequence. The premise is the following: In the far distant future a space ship has somehow passed into another universe -- one in which Newton's constant of gravity is one billion times greater than in ours. Unable to get back, the explorers had to settle in the new universe and learn to cope with ...more
I've read the Xeelee Sequence before, although it's been a while. I remembered Raft as being not very interesting and a bit of a struggle to get through. I remembered poorly, or I just wasn't in the right mood the first time I read this, or I don't know what, because this is really an absorbing story. Baxter isn't afraid to give you a mental workout, and that's one of my favorite qualities of his fiction.
Peter Hiller
This book doesn't quite feel like Baxter in some way. Maybe I'm just used to reading his later work, but this just didn't feel like his.

Nevertheless, it was good stuff, though this book does feel like a generic young adult novel. It has a very strong 50-60's YA SF feel to it, which might have been deliberate. Otherwise though, it was very good stuff.

The political stuff never really fealt like it was properly dealt with, and some stuff (especially with the bonies) really didn't make much sense to
Michael Pritchett
Technically full of detail and hard science made for more of an interesting read than a fun read. The universe is described well with a lot of imagination. Even though the plot moves well, it felt too much like many pieces bolted together for the narrative.
Good story, an engaging hero, and some mind-blowing high-octane concepts. It's been many years since humans were trapped in a universe where gravity is a billion times stronger than it is in ours. Living in micro-gravity in the breathable envelope of a nebula, tenuous relations exist between the Raft - the remnants of the Ship that brought mankind to this place - and the miners who take iron from dead stars to trade for food. Young miner Rees escapes the confines of the mine, and becomes a scien ...more
Read as part of the Xeelee, an omnibus volume. Review in Spanish:
Jim M
The beginning of the Xeelee Sequence and a stunning mathematical physics based science fiction adventure.
A very interesting read. I enjoyed the dabbling with a universe with entirely different gravity, though i struggle to see how any human could ever stand up under 5Gs. Stephen Baxter certainly creates a unique world and a compelling story to boot.
Matt Street
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Nichols
This is a clumsily-written novel (the author's first, which may explain its stylistic flaws) with two-dimensional characters and a clunky plot, but I keep returning to it because of the audacity of the author's speculative premise: what would life be like for humans in a universe where gravity was one million times stronger than it is in our own? In one of the blurbs for RAFT, Larry Niven said "I should have [Baxter] assassinated before it's too late," which is fair praise from one of the past m ...more
Long Williams
Human story set in a strange universe. All of human's foibles and bickering, along with human's hopes and adventures. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Baxter always thinks big, but his stories often revolve around small communities on the edge of the main action in his universe(s). Raft is about such a human community living in a universe where gravity is much stronger than in our universe. The ancestors of the community somehow crossed over into this universe about five hundred years prior to the action. It is a solid story of courage and determination, and the need to face one’s destiny.
A strange and in places challenging novel. Thoroughly worth reading.
Feb 18, 2012 Lauren rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
I was with it until the space whales.

In another story, I might've thought, hey, space whales! What a great idea!

Not so here, especially after the Boney world. (And it wasn't until the space whale that I realised the book hadn't dealt with the atmosphere issue at all - though it does mention that closer to the end.)

In any case, I enjoyed it up until the space whale, and then I tolerated it until the end.
I hated the first 150 pages of this book, simply because the premise is so preposterous (high gravity) and pervasive in the text that I couldn't suspend disbelief for more than a few paragraphs at a time. After the mumbo-jumbo was done with, I was truly able to appreciate the book for what it is, an interesting piece of Soft Sci-Fi with tree-hugging undertones and all.
good, old fashioned sci-fi.
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Stephen Baxter is a trained engineer with degrees from Cambridge (mathematics) and Southampton Universities (doctorate in aeroengineering research). Baxter is the winner of the British Science Fiction Award and the Locus Award, as well as being a nominee for an Arthur C. Clarke Award, most recently for Manifold: Time. His novel Voyage won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History Novel of the ...more
More about Stephen Baxter...
Manifold: Time (Manifold, #1) The Time Ships Manifold: Space Flood (Flood, #1) Ring (Xeelee Sequence, #4)

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