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Raft (Xeelee Sequence #1)

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,977 Ratings  ·  98 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, 251 pages
Published 1992 by Grafton (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dirk Grobbelaar
Aug 21, 2013 Dirk Grobbelaar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Sep 01, 2012 Tfitoby rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Jan 24, 2014 Apatt rated it really liked it
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
Jan 28, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2015
5 Stars

Raft by Stephen Baxter is an intelligent, creative, and thought provoking science fiction novel. It border lines being a hard science novel as much of the physics, chemistry, and astronomy are worked out by the characters of the novel.

I should have reviewed this the moment that I finished it as I loved this book. The whole concept of the Raft like world, the nebula, and the caste system of the humans was remarkable. I loved the science involved and the way that this story unfolded around
Rob Adey
Jun 14, 2012 Rob Adey rated it it was ok
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
What a way to start a series! Damn Good Creative & Vivid Imagination, This ...!! Waiting to start the next one in the series, soooon. :)
Jan 13, 2011 Kane rated it liked it
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
May 08, 2012 Neda Stojkovic rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
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
Nov 19, 2012 Rick rated it liked it
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
Les Orchard
Jul 02, 2009 Les Orchard rated it really liked it
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
Sep 06, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing
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
May 11, 2016 Brett rated it really liked it
It's been some time since I read this book, but I'm currently going through the Xelee Sequence again and got through it quickly, reigniting my passion for this series. The short introduction to this world is fast paced and bombards the reader with a plethora of fantastic sights, the characters are diverse and varied, and the story told from main protagonist Rees' point of view will unfold in front of you carefully. Each piece of information is given to you, only to also inform you that there is ...more
Apr 23, 2015 Atsuna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
la lecture des premières pages fut laborieuse mais ce petit moment difficile en valait la peine. En effet, Baxter envoie du lourd dans son premier chapitre, sortant les lecteurs d'un cadre réaliste connu pour les embarquer dans un décors qui semble totalement improbable et sans la moindre clef pour le comprendre. l'évolution de la plupart des personnages passe en second lieu dans son récit, mais ce n'est pas tellement dérangeant quand on est en train d'essayer de comprendre et visualiser des con ...more
Jan 24, 2015 kyknoord rated it it was ok
A frustrating book. The science is interesting, but the characters are as wooden as park benches. Also, the story is as nuanced as a YouTube supercut of Hulk Smash! clips.

When the main protagonist sets out on a voyage of discovery, he manages to gather one or two allies along the way, but for the most part, everyone he meets hates him on sight and becomes an instant, implacable enemy for the flimsiest of reasons: they don't take kindly to strangers in these here parts y'all. So basically, the en
Daan Debie
Dec 31, 2015 Daan Debie rated it liked it
My bullet point review:

- Solid hard sci-fi book, worth reading
- Very innovative, amazing ideas, evokes sense of wonder
- Solid scientific background, novel ideas get explained
- Author's debut novel, and it shows (see below). I've read 2 of the Manifold books by the same author, and they're much better written.
- Weak characterisation. Characters in this book are mostly instruments to tell the story, without much "character", often without clear motivations
- The book is short, which leads to many i
Michael O'Donnell
Jul 04, 2015 Michael O'Donnell rated it liked it
Rees is a miner, living in a nebula surrounding a black hole, in a universe where gravity is a billion times stronger than in our own. The humans in this universe are the descendants of the crew of a spaceship which fell through a wormhole from our own universe many years before.

As a consequence of the high gravity, the nebula is running out of oxygen and dying. Rees and his compatriots must figure out a way to leave the nebula and start a new life in a neighbouring, oxygen-rich nebula before th
Mar 10, 2016 Beatrice rated it it was amazing
Another book that I once read as a child, and upon this reread I realized that this is actually one of those few books that influenced me in the long run. As it turns out, quite a bit of my views on humanity came straight out of this book.

On the book itself, I don't know where to begin in my praise for it. Raft is a book that doesn't waste its words, and every single one of them moves the story forward to its ending. No character is wasted either, and I very much love that we're introduced to ot
Jul 15, 2010 David rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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.
Dec 12, 2015 Spencer rated it it was ok
I stayed up past my bedtime finishing this book, so I suppose you could say it's compelling, but it's also quite frustrating; it's a short book, and as a consequence, a lot of the possibilities of the concept go unexplored, or are barely examined.
For instance, it's suggested that the people of the nebula have become so separate that they view each other as different species, and yet, when Rees - a Belter - finds himself on the Raft, other than some sneering insults, nobody really seems to think
Jun 11, 2015 Eduardo rated it did not like it
Wrecked somewhere in another universe, a group of humans survive badly around a dead or undeveloped star, mining its iron to feed their machines, breathing oxygen from a pink nebula that surrounds it, and getting their food and water manufactured by robots at the ship that by accident brought them here. And they are close to a black hole, that too.
It is hard to believe that all that is possible in combination, but Baxter is a practitioner of hard science fiction, himself a respected scientist. S
Feb 18, 2016 Roxanne rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016
Read this for an informal book club with some friends. Haven't had our meeting yet but I'm getting the sense everyone hated it? I read a lot of sci fi so I got into it, though there are a lot of sciencey bits about gravitational fields through which I found it easier to just skim. The way that the hero sort of takes a guided tour through all the various parts of their nebula I found to be implausible, even for sci fi, and it was hard to get invested in the characters.

There were actually only tw
Feb 10, 2016 Dan rated it it was ok
Sorry book club
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
Jan 30, 2012 Scruffy rated it liked it
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
Nov 30, 2012 Darth rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dr M
Feb 22, 2009 Dr M rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Brandon Mather
What just happened?

As I rule, I stay away from alternate-universe fiction where the laws of physics are different. But I read this book from cover to cover and found myself really enjoying it. Sure, there are some weird narrative gripes that I have with this book but I can forgive them seeing as how early this book was released in Stephen's career.

It wasn't a great book, but it was a fun book and I was not expecting that. I think i'll give the Xeelee sequence a good try.
Jul 22, 2014 Todd rated it really liked it
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
Mar 03, 2012 Peter Hiller rated it liked it
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
Apr 07, 2015 Volga rated it really liked it
The book gives your imagination work. It is very specific universe, with a lot of really creepy creatures like flying wheels and trees. I liked the univers, the story , there were a lot of action and science details. However, from my point of view, most of characters were not "alive", I didn't feel that they are real characters.
Advice it to read for all physics--science -lovers.
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Wouldn't being on the trees make you dizzy? (no spoilers) 1 5 Mar 12, 2015 02:53AM  
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Xeelee Sequence (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Timelike Infinity (Xelee Sequence, #2)
  • Flux (Xeelee Sequence, #3)
  • Ring (Xeelee Sequence, #4)
  • Vacuum Diagrams (Xeelee Sequence, #5)
  • Making History & Reality Dust (Xelee Sequence, #6)
  • Riding the Rock (Xelee Sequence, #7)
  • Mayflower II
  • Coalescent (Destiny's Children, #1)
  • Exultant (Destiny's Children, #2)
  • Transcendent (Destiny's Children, #3)

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