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Manifold: Time (Manifold #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,967 Ratings  ·  260 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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Jan 24, 2011 Kane rated it liked it  ·  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
Jan 18, 2009 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
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.
Noah M.
Aug 27, 2008 Noah M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 12, 2009 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 29, 2009 Crystal rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jan 14, 2011 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Graham Crawford
Nov 22, 2012 Graham Crawford rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Take one part "The Midwich Cuckoos" and one part "2001: A Space Odyssey", chop roughly.
Add One Years Subscription of "New Scientist" - first setting aside feature articles on "The History of the Cosmos" (to be used as garnish later).
Blend mix till lumpy mess and strain out any hints of believable character.
Pour slop into a Robert Heinlein rusty mould (shaped like pubescent male wish fulfillment - you know what that looks like - hint - BIG Rockets). Sprinkle with stale dust of Ayn Rand's Far rig
Originally posted on

I think I should start this review by mentioning the cover of this book which is so pretty I took one look at it and immediately decided I needed to read this book. It wasn’t even the cover of the first book I saw (this whole series has super pretty covers), all I knew is it was science-fiction, it was written by Stephen Baxter and it had to be mine. Now I know many people will say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (even though we all do) and I am v
Feb 02, 2016 Velma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nerds & geeks of a hard-scifi bent
Recommended to Velma by: the serendipity of the universe (grabbed in a bag o' books sale)
I'd lead off with 'squids in space' but it's been done. But still, come on, SQUIDS in SPACE! :)

I've never needed Wikipedia as my constant companion as much as while reading this book. Unlike others, however, for me this is a positive attribute of Manifold: Time, not a liability. I love learning (why else do people read, seriously?); all this new-to-me vocabulary, science, people, and ideas (Fermi Paradox, Carter Catastrophe, probabilistic statistics, tori, quark nuggets, Bekenstein bound, waldoe
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
Dec 28, 2012 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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: ""

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
Teri Dluznieski
Apr 13, 2011 Teri Dluznieski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Charles Oakley
Jan 16, 2016 Charles Oakley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great mind bending sci-fi, very smart. While some sci-fi lacks a human element, what was good about this book was that all the human elements felt very real and drew me in - I really cared about the characters. The prose was also very evocative at times, poetic even. The book touched on so many subjects, as if the writer just couldn't stop accessing all the spidery recesses of his mind, and then finding a way to add them to the story... In some ways this bloated the story quite a bit, and distra ...more
Nov 08, 2007 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
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.
Sep 15, 2011 Ralf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bill Purdy
Apr 01, 2008 Bill Purdy rated it really liked it  ·  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
Manifold is not a series per se, but rather different explorations of the theme “Are we alone in the universe?”. In “Time”, a portal is discovered in the solar system, and some fascinating stuff happens related to preserving life and intelligence in the long term. In “Space”, The Fermi Paradox is suddenly reversed, with aliens appearing everywhere and the whole universe is just one big fight for resources, to the point of utter barbarism.

I had some nasty nightmares after these, which is why I wi
May 18, 2014 Matthew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

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
Mark R.
May 20, 2009 Mark R. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Kevin J. Rogers
Jul 19, 2008 Kevin J. Rogers rated it liked it  ·  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
May 25, 2014 Withstretching rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alex  Joseph
Wanted so badly to finish this but just couldn't because it was such a bore and gave up at around 80%. Probably good science fiction, but terrible piece of writing
Jul 09, 2014 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Frankie Fung
Jun 04, 2014 Frankie Fung rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Les visions du futur sont fascinantes mais finalement équivalentes à celles d'un article de prospection cosmologique de n'importe quelle revue scientifique. Les personnages sont creux, l'intrigue des enfants surdoués faisant peur à l'humanité est usée jusqu'à la corde et le style littéraire est des plus quelconque.

Deux gros défauts également:

1) Modifier génétiquement des poulpes est plus économique et sûr qu'utiliser des ordinateurs pour piloter une navette: WTF?!? Et nous sommes sensés accepter
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
Apr 19, 2016 Victoria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
While i enjoyed the sci-fi concepts and the use of squid in space (could have done without the angsty squid sex though) there was something lacking. The characters were flat, almost insignificant to the plot, the science. It wasn't a story I could fully invest in. I cared more about Sheena the squid and her offspring than the various unfleshed humans. So of course they disappeared for about a third of the book.
James Oden
May 26, 2015 James Oden rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
A very thought provoking book with some hard science based around existing technology. Even better the science does not get in the way of the story which is compelling and reasonable. There were only a few places where I had to suspend disbelief, and those had to do with government response (or rather lack of response). All in all a good story and a fun read.

...Wait...wait...there's more. This thing has intelligent squids in space! That may be reason enough to read this. They're not nearly as sn
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Hard SF: Manifold Time 1 34 Feb 22, 2012 07:59AM  
  • The Light of Other Days
  • Cosm
  • Weapons of Choice (Axis of Time, #1)
  • Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days
  • Return to Mars
  • First to Fight (Starfist, #1)
  • The Depths of Time (The Chronicles of Solace, #1)
  • Schild's Ladder
  • Legacy (The Way, #3)
  • Coyote (Coyote Trilogy, #1)
  • The Kiribati Test
  • Elric: The Stealer of Souls (Eternal Champion, #11)
  • The Cassini Division (The Fall Revolution, #3)
  • Orbital Resonance (Century Next Door, #1)
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

Manifold (4 books)
  • Manifold: Space (Manifold, #2)
  • Manifold: Origin
  • Phase Space

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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—”
“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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