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Raft (Xeelee Sequence #1)

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  2,171 Ratings  ·  108 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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Community Reviews

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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
Tfitoby
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
...more
Apatt
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
Jason
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Daavid
What a way to start a series! Damn Good Creative & Vivid Imagination, This ...!! Waiting to start the next one in the series, soooon. :)
Ethan
Oct 13, 2016 Ethan rated it it was amazing
(See another version of this review on my blog: http://examinedworlds.blogspot.com/20...)

If you like hard SF in general or Stephen Baxter in particular, you'll probably like this. It definitely has an old timey Arthur C. Clarke feel to it, right down to the fact that this universe apparently contains precisely two women (okay, that's slightly unfair, since there are other women mentioned in the background, but the reader only gets to know two of them). Nonetheless, there is an awful lot to like.
...more
Kane
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
...more
Nicolas
Ce roman part d'un postulat fascinant : et si la constante gravitationnelle était des milliers de fois inférieure à celle de notre univers ?
Les planètes et les étoiles seraient infiniment plus petites, la gravité d'un simple être humain serait sensible, et la vie locale serait réellement très différente.
Bon, par contre, projeter des humains dans cet univers est une tâche bien difficile, et je trouve que l'auteur y échoue un peu : envoyer ça par un vaisseau qui passe à travers un anneau "magique"
...more
Joe
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
...more
Metaphorosis
Jul 24, 2016 Metaphorosis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2016-rev
4 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

An Earth ship somehow crossed to a universe where gravity is much more powerful. Centuries later, the survivors have broken into three loosely connected groups - the Raft, the Belt, and the Boneys. Now, their world is dying, and the groups must come together to survive.

Raft is Stephen Baxter's first book, and the first of his that I encountered. I also think it's his best book. While Baxter normally focuses on solid science, this book does a considerable amount of
...more
Rick
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
Eduardo
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
...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
Esteban LV
Feb 02, 2016 Esteban LV rated it did not like it
Weird, but infantile.

The hero goes from impossible problem to impossible-er problem and you can't feel for him because, obviously, he'd come out triumphant.

The worlds depicted are marvellous, really, but very improbable. This is not hard sci-fi, despite posing a such. This is more fantasy than science.

"The Fountain" comic and movie were based on Raft. I think. I couldn't stop thinking and relating the trees flying across the nebula from this book and The Fountain.
David
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.
Dan
Feb 10, 2016 Dan rated it it was ok
Sorry book club
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Oct 20, 2016 Alvaro Zinos-Amaro rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2016
Much to my chagrin, I bounced off this novel, which I'd wanted to enjoy. Despite the imaginative richness of the premise, I found everything flat: untextured characters whose fates didn't involve me, a plot concerned with political shenanigans and some scientific situations that didn't hold my interest, and prose that seemed to be lacking in any kind of interesting dynamics. A few nice set pieces, and a marvelous central conceit; intriguing start, but progressively duller.

PS: There's one line th
...more
Senzanom
Dec 13, 2016 Senzanom rated it liked it
An interesting story, but the elements got confusing at points just due to the "weird physics" that made up the universe. Conceptually and interesting read, but I still found myself rushing through more than a few segments of the story do to drawn out plot points and descriptions that didn't add that much to the story.
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
Ben
Sep 23, 2016 Ben rated it did not like it
Dreadful.

Where's the tension? I'm 40% through and the only hint of drama is the dying nebula, which no one really seems that worried about, and a potential point of conflict with some two dimensional bully.

Paper thin characters meander around each other, as I manage to get through a page or two at a time.

Not recommended.
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
...more
Scruffy
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
...more
Brett
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
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
...more
Beatrice
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
...more
Darth
Nov 30, 2012 Darth rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Spencer
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
...more
Emrullah Koyunlu
Sep 05, 2016 Emrullah Koyunlu rated it it was ok
I'm sad to say that the book was quite a disappointment, especially after the positive acclamations I have heard about it.
I think only positive thing about the book was the setting. The enhanced gravity and its implication had made some interesting read.
But the list of negative's was considerably longer. The characters, including the main, were extremely flat, neatly falling into the archetypical roles. Plot was stale, but I might have accepted that if it were a better fit to the overall plot.
...more
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Wouldn't being on the trees make you dizzy? (no spoilers) 1 7 Mar 12, 2015 02:53AM  
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20295
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 (Xeelee Sequence, #2)
  • Flux (Xeelee Sequence, #3)
  • Ring (Xeelee Sequence, #4)
  • Vacuum Diagrams (Xeelee Sequence, #5)
  • Making History & Reality Dust (Xeelee Sequence, #6)
  • Riding the Rock (Xeelee Sequence, #7)
  • Mayflower II
  • Coalescent (Destiny's Children, #1)
  • Exultant (Destiny's Children, #2)
  • Transcendent (Destiny's Children, #3)

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