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Manifold: Time (Manifold #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  3,656 ratings  ·  200 reviews
The year is 2010. More than a century of ecological damage, industrial and technological expansion, and unchecked population growth has left the Earth on the brink of devastation. As the world’s governments turn inward, one man dares to envision a bolder, brighter future. That man, Reid Malenfant, has a very different solution to the problems plaguing the planet: the explo ...more
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Published December 16th 2003 by Del Rey (first published August 1999)
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Stephen
3.0 to 3.5 stars. It has been a while since I read this and it is on my list to re-read in the near future. I do remember being blown away by the science of the story but feeling that the plot was a little slow at parts.

Nominee: Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
Kristen
Baxter's work, if I'm remembering the right author, is generally difficult stuff. This one, though, really aggravated me, because the whole thing (including all the characters' motivations) revolves around a flawed concept of how statistics and probability work. In brief, this is the notion of a "probabilistic doomsday," which suggests that because the probability of any given human being alive now is very small if the future holds an indefinitely expanding or even stabilizing population of huma ...more
Jonathan Cullen
Jan 24, 2011 Jonathan Cullen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: marine cephalopods
Squuuuiiiidddsss innnnnn sppppaaacceeeee….

I enjoyed attending Stephen Baxter's class…wait, this was a novel?? Manifold: Time is the epitome of a Baxter three-star effort: some mind-bending ideas about the cosmos, a plot, some classroom lessons, some bad exposition of facts and some cardboard characters. That being said, I have enjoyed three of the four Baxter novels I've read to date, including this one.

In true Baxter style, Manifold is a canvas for awesome cosmological theories and implications
...more
Noah M.
I'm going to preemptively review this book with five stars.

Allow me to explain why--

One of the POV characters is a genetically enhanced squid (given human level intelligence) who is sent on an exploratory mission to an asteroid. The squid, without the human trainer's knowledge, is pregnant when she leaves on the trip.

After a while, space squids begin expanding their habitat, developing culture, expanding through the solar system.

You can see why I like this book. SQUID IN SPACE!

It also features t
...more
Teri Dluznieski
I had already read several of Baxter's books when I read Manifold:Time. Before Manifold, I enjoyed his work After Manifold- I was completely sucked in and hooked. After reading this one, I began to search out and order all of his other books. I really loved how Baxter took on the subject of quantum physics. He takes the space and time, woven into the story to explain many very complex concepts, and he also illustrates and demonstrates them within the context of the story. this combination is a ...more
Ian
I am a fan of Stephen Baxter's. Vacuum Diagrams and The Time Ships were two of my favorite sci-fi books in the last ten years (at least among the Sci Fi I have read.) And I was looking forward to diving into a meaty trilogy of his that I could be reading for awhile. However whereas those two novel's took some fascinating contemporary science and built interesting conflicts and narratives on top of them, this book drowns beneath them.

Too often the action gets bogged down in a scene where one scie
...more
Mike
Bootstrap to outer space was a great start. It was a good read at the time but I can't remember anything about it now except it was very strange at the end.
Ralf
It's unfortunate that Baxter decided to build the story of the book upon the premise of the so called Carter Catastrophe. This statistical doomsday argument is not only counter intuitive, it is also completely bogus. The wikipedia page on this topic and the discussion subpage host quite a freak show of college math level tea leaf readers making a dance about their 'mathematical proofs'. I say unfortunate because the true beauty of Manifold Time is how Baxter resolves the bleak possible future of ...more
Dan
I don't want to take the time to write out a full review for this book, so here's just a few un-organized thoughts:

Sometimes it feels like the story is just a framework for Baxter to explain cosmological theories and principles of physics. This leads to very boring stretches in the book, like when the main characters are traveling through hundreds of virtually indistinguishable universes that differ only in their laws and durations (which the characters are somehow able to intuit based on being
...more
Bill Purdy
Apr 01, 2008 Bill Purdy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Geeks. Pretty much only geeks.
I read the first two of three in this series, Manifold: Time and Manifold: Space. Manifold: Origin is sitting on my shelf, and will likely remain there for some time, as the first two books have almost completely exhausted my hunger for hard sci-fi.

And by "hard" sci-fi, I mean science fiction that is less about story or character than it is about ideas, specifically scientific ideas. Baxter's ideas are so technical and obtuse as to be almost incomprehensible to a lay person like myself, and his
...more
Becky
I seem to have had a similar experience to many who have struggled doggedly through Stephen Baxter's novels: the ideas he presents (generally hard science in the form of current theoretical physics, mathematics, bioengineering, etc.) are FASCINATING, and if you can get your mind around them at all, said mind will emerge bent and possibly a little shattered. However, the writing itself is totally unengaging (with a few sparkling moments of exception), and all of the characters fall pretty flat. I ...more
Crystal
*whew!* done. Exhausting, depressing, silliness. And I'm confused, how is it Emma survived to see the end of it all in the year 2208?! The story begins 2010... and yet there she is. And the congresswoman, too. Oops! big error here. Uh oh, would this be considered a spoiler? Well, I don't care .. I don't recommend this to anyone. The open desires for a socialist world order together with the atheist and humanist movements are too in-your-face nowadays and only spawns hopelessness and despair henc ...more
Mark R.
Stephen Baxter's "Manifold: Time" is apparently the first in a trilogy of books concerning alternate universes, but I'll be content not knowing how the second and third books go. While certainly full of ideas (regarding, among other things, time travel, space time travel, super-smart squids, and super-smart kids), the writing is generally dry and the characters unengaging.

Baxter clearly has a science background, but his writing could benefit from a possible collaboration with another writer who
...more
Kevin J. Rogers
Jul 19, 2008 Kevin J. Rogers rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of hard science fiction.
Stephen Baxter is an aeronautical engineer by trade, and his formal training shines through in this entertaining and enlightening book. His descriptions of the technology needed to further explore our solar system (and the stars beyond) are excellent, as are his expository passages on the current thinking in physics and his imaginative use of those theories within the framework of his story. And the story itself is fast-paced, intriguing, and full of twists, turns, and surprises. The ending itse ...more
Withstretching
Read this when I was young, while in Italy on an insane family holiday. I don't really remember much of it besides the ending, but it totally shattered my 11-year-old ideas of the world. Great book
Ed
I would have to agree with a lot of the other reviewers on the fact that the character development is just so-so. Where I would disagree is that the science and math speak slows the book down.

First, the character development. While Reid Malenfant is the named protagonist of the book, his character is usually described from the point of view of his ex-wife. This is actually kind of a neat trick- because we don't fully understand his motives until pretty late in the game. However, Emma Stoney (the
...more
Willy Eckerslike
As an ardent sci-fi fan since my early reading days, I have a collection dating back from the birth of the genre in the 30’s up to it’s heyday in the 70’s and early 80’s. I lost touch a bit and wandered off in the realms of the fantasy genre but I still get an urge for some proper sci-fi and frequently revisit Azimov, Pohl, Harrison and other cosy old favourites.

Apart from Iain M. Banks’ superb ‘Culture’ series, I hadn’t read any offerings from the new generation of authors so I though it was ti
...more
Frankie Fung
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Matthew

I like Steven Baxter as a thinker, but as an author he has allot of work to do. The book is filled with some grand ideas, but the characters are such shallow cutouts it's hard to really take anything seriously.
People give speeches explaining the plot instead of actually conversing with one another, events happen without plausability but rather because that's what the plot demanded.

The idea of a billionare ex-astronaut funding his own space program because the government won't is a tired trope of
...more
Pj Holden
It's a peculiar book in some ways, written in 2000 and set in the year 2010 it attempts to gently suggest a future of "softscreens" and other near-future tech and get them all wrong (at least from the POV of a reader in 2014 - which, to be fair, is probably more to do with how hard the future is to predict even in that small leap than anything else, replace the word 'softscreen' throughout with 'ipad' or 'iphone' or 'touchscreen' and he'd be on a winner).

Then the premise of the entire thing is
...more
Peter Goodman

“Manifold: Time,” by Stephen Baxter (Del Ray, 2000). This is the first of a trilogy, also including space and origins. The usual complexities and amazing assertions about space, time, etc. Decent characters, if not as complex as the “Flood” people. The plot: someone asserts that humanity is going to be wiped out in 200 years, and that to survive we must learn to get messages from the future. The prime characters are Reid Malenfant, billionaire, visionary, inventor, tireless; Cornelius Taine, mys
...more
Bill
Sometimes I judge a book based on how I feel after reading. I have mixed and complication feelings about this book; it simultaneously implies that humans have no role to play in the cosmos, and yet the most (if not only) important one.

With such a large-scale theme, I'm willing to overlook some of the book's flaws... primarily the tendency for characters to explain things to each other, which gets old. (You could make a drinking game out of the number of times that one character asks another to e
...more
Locke Erasmus
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Alex
Super interesting book. I really liked the first ⅔ of it, before the future technology got pretty intense. I loved knowing that the science was possible, though I started skimming some of the explanations. I think end notes or an extended afterward would have been a great place for those explanations.

The squid were a great addition.

I think Emma's tolerance for Reid was way too high, especially with his "revelation" near the end. That was kind of a sappy storyline. I actually think the book wou
...more
Roddy Williams
'THE END OF THE WORLD NEWS

THE HUMAN RACE EXTINCT IN 200 YEARS

This is the Carter Prophecy and it is irrefutable, expressed in the universal language of numbers. But what if there is still a way to survive the catastrophe? When a coded message from the future turns up amid the cosmic background noise of the Big Bang, Reid Malenfant, NASA drop-out turned entrepreneur, diverts his entire space enterprise to find out what it means. The message gives the coordinates of the asteroid Cruithne, Earth’s r
...more
Trowzers
I had read four fifths of the book when it went missing. I had misplaced it and for two weeks I could not find it anywhere. It was almost a relief. While I liked some aspects of this story, I had reached a point where the book was going through what my mind insisted on calling a 'science wank'. That is, there were long, scientific explanations and explorations on the development of the universe that didn't seem to serve any part of the story and seemed better suited to a scientific paper. I read ...more
Jesse
Manifold: Time is one of those books that blows you away, but subtly at first--you don't realize how epic it is until you're halfway through, and you look back and can only think: "...wow."

However, it wasn't immediately love at first sight with this book, for me. I spent the first forty-odd pages getting hung up on the rapid POV shifts (sometimes several on one page), choppy two-paragraph scenes of action followed by a similarly-choppy two more paragraphs of action. The story starts out jumping
...more
Jason
To cut to the chase, I didn't care for this book much at all. I've never read a sci-fi book so heavy on science, by which I mean he spent a LOT of time explaining various scientific principles. There were LONG passages where various ideas and theories are discussed, explained, etc, so much so that, for me, it killed the flow of the story. I like science, and I like novels. For me, this was NOT a good mix. Tell me what's going on, not why. I don't care, in the context of a novel, about Relativity ...more
John
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tom
This book is porn for scientists, with the point of the erotic imagination focused upon highly abstract theory instead of bodies. As such, the characters are two-dimensional vessels who aren't fleshed out so much as they serve as either symbols or conduits for the author's scientific and philosophical jargon. Male, female, professional scientist or congresswoman, if you're a character in this book you're musing about paradoxes and subatomic particles with the best of them, or asking others to cl ...more
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Hard SF: Manifold Time 1 30 Feb 22, 2012 07:59AM  
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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...
The Time Ships Manifold: Space Flood (Flood, #1) Ring (Xeelee Sequence, #4) Manifold: Origin

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“In the afterglow of the Big Bang, humans spread in waves across the universe, sprawling and brawling and breeding and dying and evolving. There were wars, there was love, there was life and death. Minds flowed together in great rivers of consciousness, or shattered in sparkling droplets. There was immortality to be had, of a sort, a continuity of identity through replication and confluence across billions upon billions of years.
Everywhere they found life.
Nowhere did they find mind—save what they brought with them or created—no other against which human advancement could be tested.
With time, the stars died like candles. But humans fed on bloated gravitational fat, and achieved a power undreamed of in earlier ages.
They learned of other universes from which theirs had evolved. Those earlier, simpler realities too were empty of mind, a branching tree of emptiness reaching deep into the hyperpast.
It is impossible to understand what minds of that age—the peak of humankind, a species hundreds of billions of times older than humankind—were like. They did not seek to acquire, not to breed, not even to learn. They had nothing in common with us, their ancestors of the afterglow.
Nothing but the will to survive. And even that was to be denied them by time.
The universe aged: indifferent, harsh, hostile, and ultimately lethal.
There was despair and loneliness.
There was an age of war, an obliteration of trillion-year memories, a bonfire of identity. There was an age of suicide, as the finest of humanity chose self-destruction against further purposeless time and struggle.
The great rivers of mind guttered and dried.
But some persisted: just a tributary, the stubborn, still unwilling to yield to the darkness, to accept the increasing confines of a universe growing inexorably old.
And, at last, they realized that this was wrong. It wasn't supposed to have been like this.
Burning the last of the universe's resources, the final down-streamers—dogged, all but insane—reached to the deepest past. And—oh.
Watch the Moon, Malenfant. Watch the Moon. It's starting—”
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“This is what I have learned, Malenfant. This is how it is, how it was, how it came to be.” 1 likes
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