Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ultima” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Proxima #2)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  2,221 ratings  ·  212 reviews
Fresh from his latest collaboration with Terry Pratchett on the Long Earth sequence Stephen Baxter now returns to the mysteries and challenges first hinted at in his acclaimed novel PROXIMA.

In PROXIMA we discovered ancient alien artifacts on the planet of Per Ardua - hatches that allowed us to step across light years of space as if we were stepping into another room. The u
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published November 20th 2014 by Gollancz (first published 2014)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ultima, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Merelyn B I would suggest reading Proxima first. You will need a good foundation to start with so that you can appreciate the revelations revealed in Ultima.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,221 ratings  ·  212 reviews

Sort order
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This one was a satisfying end to the duology as long as we go along with the premise that the past is always full of options and the future always ends in death.

I'm talking universal death under the theory that there is a finite number of universes in a multi-verse, meaning that somewhere along the line the bubble is going to pop when it runs up against the wall. It's a very fascinating theory and it even makes a ton of sense because infinite is a very irrational number.

So what does this mean fo
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
After the pleasant surprise of Proxima, in Ultima we’re launched straight into the cliff-hanger ending of the previous novel. (And so, in order to explain further, major plot revelations from Proxima have to be revealed here. You have been warned.)

From the publisher: “In PROXIMA we discovered ancient alien artifacts on the planet of Per Ardua – hatches that allowed us to step across light years of space as if we were stepping into another room. The universe opened up to us. Now in ULTIMA the con
Feb 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
Worst sci-fi book ever. Entire chapters of the Bible are more fun to read than this load of tedious crap that spans generations. The characters are the most shallow and uninteresting figures ever to have appeared in print. And they beget children and grandchildren. Really, mr Baxter, why would I be interested in the further adventures of shallow characters whose parents and grandparents weren't even interesting to start with?

The idea of mutliple dimensions and possible outcomes of history is ver
Philip Brock
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Disclaimer: I joined goodreads just so I could review this book. This review is heavy on personal opinion and fueled by the post-read come down.

In a way, it's hard to review Ultima without also referring to Proxima, since it's a direct continuation of the story and doesn't make much sense without Proxima as context. The story picks up where Proxima left off, with Yuri Eden, Stef Kalinski, and the ColU trying to make sense of where the hatch they entered on Per Ardua has taken them...

If the writ
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mind-expanding SF, geeky in spots and inclined to infodump but all in rhythm with the pace and context of the narrative.

This takes up from the end of the first book, Proxima where: the key characters, counting in two machine entities, have escaped the coming cataclysm of the Nail into a hatch, emerging in a timeline where Rome, the empire, has continued on into space by the immense energies of the kernels. In this civilization, they must find a way to, first, survive, then next, escape. Before
cardulelia carduelis
Hoc frustretur >:(

If the afterword of Ultima was anything to go by then Baxter had a lot of fun researching the alternate histories that fill this book. But Wiki-walks and What-if’s do not a novel make and there was a lot missing from this book that would make it a satisfying read.

I went into Ultima with high hopes having only finished Proxima a couple of weeks before. I was ready to find out what happened to the characters I’d gotten to know and see how Baxter resolved all of the threads he’
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Last year, I picked up Stephen Baxter's Proxima from the new book shelf at my local library, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I was also happy to learn that that while it was the first of a new series, the sequel was already out. Unfortunately, that was only the UK edition. The US edition was released nearly a year later. No good reason, that I can see.

Proxima ends with a cliffhanger, and Ultima starts from that point. Be warned that anything more I say about Ultima will be a spoiler with regard to Pr
Aug 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second book in the Proxima series, and I did not read the first. This was a distinct disadvantage for me, and I may not be judging the series fairly. My interest was in trying Stephen Baxter, a well-known and well-regarded science fiction author that I hadn't gotten to yet.

Weirdly, this is the second book in quick succession that I've read that takes the idea of a Roman empire that never fell. In this case, the Roma
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
PROXIMA was a brilliant novel.ULTIMA is only excellent.
David Ramirer
Nov 28, 2014 rated it liked it
natürlich musste die geschichte nach "proxima" weitergehen - zu viele lose enden, zu viele offene fragen.
nun kann ich nicht behaupten, dass allzuviele fragen im zweiten teil offen geblieben sind, aber die story als solches kommt doch ziemlich ausgedünnt herüber. die meisten ereignisse werden von protagonisten erzählt und reflektiert, während sie beinandersitzen oder aber - was mich am meisten störte - eine lange reise aus band 1 ein zweites mal durchführen (mit dem kleinen unterschied, dass sich
Paul Hancock
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
It must be hard to follow up on a book that dealt with reality augmenting technology without totally jumping the shark. Baxter does a solid job though. Ultima is the sequel that I wanted and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The whole Roman thing seemed a bit daft to begin with but it wasn't a sticking point for me.

I feel like this is as far as we can go in this story without getting silly or boring. Ultima was a nice closing of the long arc story line.
Dec 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: do-not-own
“Ultima” was an interesting follow up to its predecessor, “Proxima”, being so large as it was in scope, I felt afterwords, as if I had read an ambitious trilogy in two volumes. Baxter really is of the Clarke school; big ideas sense of wonder type stuff.

Over all, I really did enjoyed it for the most part.
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Baxter fans will love this, and since I'm a Baxter fan, I have to include myself. I particularly enjoyed thinking about the contingency of history in addition to Baxter's usual Arthur C. Clarke-style cosmic scale business.

(See my blog version:

I really enjoyed the previous volume in the duology, Proxima, which you might say is part of the trend of "Interstellar Colonization 101" (see my blog post on the topic:

Nov 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Baxter has some interesting ideas, but the pacing is all over the place and apparently he must have had a kid while he was writing this because there's way too many people having babies all over the place. It's not necessary to have 4 generations of main characters come and go when you're literally dealing with multiversal time travel, and every time one of his characters follows the lifescript and pops out a kid I get further and further removed from these characters. Not to mention having to s ...more
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Johan Haneveld
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book contains a battle between a roman century from an alternative timeline where the roman empire endured against an overwhelming force of inca's, somewhere inside a space habitat thousands of miles long, coated with an ocean and a rainforest, where even native americans still live. If you need any more of a recommendation, I do question your sense of wonder ... I at least was awed by the flights of imagination of the author (even if the level of technology proposed for the alternative spa ...more
Dorian D-W
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Italians, people who like their novels to come with supplementary reading lists

That's right, in an alternate universe, the Roman Empire was not content with its conquests of Southern Europe, Northern Africa and South America, so Caesar's legions built spaceships and set out for the stars.

If that description alone doesn't convince you to read this book, well, I don't know what will (unless perhaps I can entice you with this teensy spoiler: (view spoiler)?).

But as entertaining as Romans in Space is (and I thoroughly enjoyed this
Chris Aylott
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Space Romans and the end of everything! The latter is a longtime obsession for Stephen Baxter, and the space Romans are his latest twist on the subject. They're entertaining, as are some of the other surprises in the book.

However, it's hard to ignore the fact that most of the characters are passive observers of mighty cosmic ideas. It's kind of the point of the book, which makes it interesting without ever really being engaging.
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
After a relatively (compared to Proxima) slow start, when Ultima takes off it flies. A fascinating second third is followed by a final third which is every bit as good as Proxima. I'm torn between 4 and 4.5 stars for the book as a whole. The second half would certainly merit 5.

Tudor Ciocarlie
A 2000 years old Roman Empire that uses legions and swords alongside spaceships is absurd, and the only interesting characters are the two Artificial Intelligence, but that last third of the novel is very impressive.
James Cox
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
A good sequel.
Moen Kerveleten
May 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Great implementation of established scientific knowledge. Epic answers to philosophical issues.

Very bad character-development and basically non-existing emotions, inter-relationships rendered detached and impassive.

The story itself still has some gaps, some threads even unexplained in the end. But overall, the jumps in space And time coalesc into a great telltale narrative, exploring some pretty mind-boggling scientific probabilities.
That was what kept me reading.

3 stars
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a journey!!
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Ich will gleich zur Sache kommen. Übrigens etwas, das Stephen Baxter nicht so recht beherrscht, wie er schon früher bewiesen hat. :)

Nach Proxima legt er mit 'Ultima' einen Nachfolgeband vor, der wirklich alle offenen Fragen klärt. Aber nicht, ohne vorher noch selbst ein paar aufzuwerfen. Wir erinnern uns: Das Buch 'Proxima' beendet sein unstetes Funkeln mit dem plötzlichen Auftauchen von etwas gänzlich unerwartetem. Man rechnet nämlich im Verlauf des Weltraumabenteuers mit vielen, aber nicht mit
Apr 02, 2015 rated it liked it
The short summary: If you liked Proxima, you'll probably get on ok with Ultima too. If you haven't read Proxima, then read it first, as this book will otherwise make about as much sense as a moose with a hat rack. And if you found Proxima irritating, then give this a miss...

In a bit more detail: It's over 500 pages of full-on widescreen hard(ish) SF into which Baxter weaves a number of his obsessions from previous novels: parallel universes, the Carter Catastrophe, deep time and, oddly, the Roma
Malcolm Little
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, sf-gems
In many aspects, Ultima takes what we got in Proxima and elevates it to the next level. The adventure twists, turns, and comes full circle. Players come and go at the right times, and the ending culminates in a somber yet satisfying climax – you cannot get more climactic than what Ultima delivers as its climax.

The story feels and executes as a logical and immediate continuation of Proxima. New themes and science fiction elements, most notably the alternate universe theory, are brought into the
When I was a kid, way back in the 70’s. My absolute favorite thing to do was probably picking my nose or refusing to poop for as long as human could – but I don’t think of those things as reverently as I probably should given how much I clearly enjoyed them.

Wait, I’m already going sideways to what I was hoping to say here. Which is that one of my favorite things to do was stargaze. As a kid that was actually hard for me to do. I essentially had no rules in my daily life aside from this: Be home
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
[Review contains spoilers for Proxima but spoiler free for this book]

So after the events of Proxima we find ourselves in a slightly different universe. Yuri, Stef and the Col-U came through a hatch and the ship escaping the war on Earth also finds its way into this changed universe. It's a jobar hinge, a place where history has swung in a different direction. Here, the Roman empire never fell and the Romans are now travelling through space expanding their empire and building hatches.

A fair chun
Mar 04, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
The sequel to Proxima – did you see what he did there? Proxima: nearest; Ultima: furthest. Where the first was near-future sf, this one drags in Baxter’s other great interest, alternate history. It seems that the Hatches which allow for easy travel over interstellar distances (instantaneous for the traveller, but light-speed is not violated), also trigger “resets” of history – or shift the protagonists into alternate histories. In the first, the Roman Empire makes it into space but despite makin ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Absorption (Ragnarok #1)
  • Killing Titan (War Dogs, #2)
  • The Long Sunset (The Academy, #8)
  • The Sardonyx Net
  • The Arrows of Time (Orthogonal #3)
  • Summertide (Heritage Universe, #1)
  • Marauder
  • Bit Rot (Freyaverse #1.5)
  • The Secret of Life
  • Shipstar (Bowl of Heaven, #2)
  • Deep Navigation
  • Jupiter War (Owner Trilogy, #3)
  • A Night Without Stars (Commonwealth Universe, #7)
  • Barricade
  • Green Earth
  • Reach for Infinity
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

Proxima (2 books)
  • Proxima
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“The “gravity train” was devised in the seventeenth century by British scientist Robert Hooke, who presented the idea in a letter to Isaac Newton. The idea has been seriously presented a few times, such as to the Paris Academy of Sciences in the nineteenth century.” 1 likes
“In the heart of a hundred billion worlds— Across a trillion dying realities in a lethal multiverse— In the chthonic silence— There was satisfaction. The network of mind continued to push out in space, from the older stars, the burned-out worlds, to the young, out across the Galaxy. Pushed deep in time too, twisting the fate of countless trillions of lives.” 1 likes
More quotes…