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Raft

(Xeelee Sequence #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  3,150 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Alternate-cover edition can be found here

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
...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published February 12th 1992 by Grafton (first published 1991)
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Eivind You probably would, especially considering that air-friction would quickly arrest any momentum you may have had letting gravity alone dominate.

That's …more
You probably would, especially considering that air-friction would quickly arrest any momentum you may have had letting gravity alone dominate.

That's a problem you have to ignore in the entire book though; given that the nebula has a breathable atmosphere, there's not really any such thing as a stable "orbit" in it, because orbits work when velocity and gravity balance out, and of course thick air will quickly reduce any objects velocity to near nil.(less)

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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Dirk Grobbelaar
Aug 30, 2011 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
Apatt
Jan 20, 2014 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
Toby
Apr 18, 2012 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
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Rob Adey
Jun 10, 2012 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 the
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Rachel (Kalanadi)
This story is built around a fantastic idea of increased gravity... and it's very interesting for that, but by the end I found myself rather disappointed in how thin the characters are and how little I cared that humanity actually survived in this situation. There's a lot of aging male scientists getting excited over hypotheses and very little genuine human feeling. So I'd say this fits in perfectly with older science fiction that's known better for developing ideas than for developing character ...more
Ethan
Oct 07, 2016 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
Jason
Jan 24, 2014 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
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Jonathan
Dec 28, 2010 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
Neda
May 07, 2012 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
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E.E.
May 23, 2015 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
Esteban LV
Sep 26, 2015 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 (דוד)
What a way to start a series! Damn Good Creative & Vivid Imagination, This ...!! Waiting to start the next one in the series, soooon. :) ...more
Metaphorosis
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-rev, reviewed
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
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Eivind
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book deals with a small civilization of human beings that are the descendants of a crew that by some unexplained fluke ended up in another universe where the power of gravity is a whopping factor of a billion stronger than in this one.

That has fun consequences, like stars being correspondingly smaller and the nebula as a whole having a breathable atmosphere.

It's tagged as "hard" science fiction, but frankly the science of this is pretty squishy. Among the more notable errors are:

(view spoil
...more
Rick
Nov 19, 2012 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
Joe
Sep 03, 2012 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
Johan Haneveld
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
8+ This was the first novel published by Stephen Baxter - but from the start it's clear where his greatest strength lies and how he would have staying power. If I understand the introduction by Alastair Reynolds correctly Baxter brought modern science back into sciencefiction - filling the void left by the greats such as Asimov, Clarke and Niven. Here was someone with serious scientific expertise, and a great, imaginative thinker to boot, with the creativity to explore even the most outlandish c ...more
Andrew Ten broek
Imagine your ancestors ending up on their space travels in a part of the universe where the gravitational force is a billion times more stronger than it is in our milky way. Imagine they are living on parts left of a remodelled space craft orbiting a dead star. They're living among a very old nebula which life cycle is coming to and end. So far they've been able to avert the falling stars by growing trees in the gases that surround their living areas. A solution however has to be found and that' ...more
Edward Davies
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story was interesting but, having read Baxter’s Long Earth series with Terry Pratchett, it could have gone into more depth on how this strange high gravity world worked, and how the people interacted with each other. The characters do at times blend together which was slightly annoying, but on the whole this is a well thought out story that gives and interesting view on how the world beyond our own could so easily be one that could destroy us all without even trying, and how segregation wil ...more
Juniper
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
The book does a good job of 'show not tell' in the beginning as you learn about the universe along with the main character. Fairly shallow character development, some plot points are glossed over and time jumps. I'm assuming this book is merely a framework for the later installments in the series. Easy reading.
Bria
Jun 08, 2020 rated it liked it
A very cool world (how I wish there were illustrations!), but the rest of it didn't hold up for me. The bleak pessimism about human nature was too simple and heavy handed, leading to a bulk of interactions being simply short tempers and villainy, and although the only two female characters existing solely to be attractive to the men wasn't really overtly offensive, it sure didn't do the book any favors.
Corneliu Dascalu
Starting from a changed fundamental rule of physics (stronger gravity), Steven Baxter builds an entire universe full of wonders. It doesn't all make 100% sense, but it's a great example of imagination running free. And he also manages to touch a few moral and social issues along the way.
Gabe Tansley
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Some fun ideas and a setting in the style of Larry Niven at his more imaginative, dreadful cardboard characters though and very little tension - our hero is too capable no matter the odds. Definitely reads like a first novel. Niven's Integral Trees and the Smoke Ring explore a similar setting with a lot more style.
Jonatron
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
All the human interaction and events are so implausible and forced. It's a cool science concept with a mediocre story tacked on.
Les Orchard
Jul 02, 2009 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
Alien
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quit-reading, sf
Typical Hard SF, based on an idea from physics or astronomy.
I am not a physicist, but much of the stuff described in the novel did seem quite unbelievable. Above all the fact that people can survive in this nebula and even breathe it. That seems ridiculous.
But the nebula is teeming with life. And then there is telepathy. Sigh... that was too much for me.
When the believability was gone, reading was less and less fun for me and turned into a chore.
It's a pity because I liked the idea of a mine
...more
David
Jul 11, 2010 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.
Aaron Anderson
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Didn't love it, didn't hate it.
I don't really recommend this to anybody.
Bbrown
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Works of fiction are primarily entertainment. Not exclusively entertainment, they can edify, challenge, reframe, etc., but the reason why humanity tells stories is first and foremost to entertain. So a book like Raft doesn’t necessarily need to do anything besides entertain to succeed. There are two wrinkles to this, however: first, I’m the type of reader that likes a book to edify, challenge, reframe, etc. and my entertainment is tied to whether a book successfully does something like that. Sec ...more
MichaelK
This was an entertaining and fairly short read, about a human society that develops after a spaceship accidentally ends up in another universe with much higher gravity than our own, which means the universe is VERY different to ours in various entertaining ways.

At its best, the story has a mythological feel to it, and at times there's decent opportunities to read deeper meaning into the text. At its worst, the characters are explaining maths to each other. Hard SF is not really my kind of SF, b
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Raft By Stephen Baxter 2 18 Oct 20, 2018 02:35AM  
Wouldn't being on the trees make you dizzy? (no spoilers) 1 7 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

Other books in the series

Xeelee Sequence (1 - 10 of 17 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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