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(Manifold #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  6,694 ratings  ·  350 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
Paperback, 480 pages
Published November 28th 2000 by Del Rey Books (first published August 1999)
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Jan 24, 2011 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was ok
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 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Graham Crawford
Nov 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is the first in the Manifold series -
1) Manifold: Time
2) Manifold: Space
3) Manifold: Origin
4) Phase Space (collection)

While I appreciate the understanding of modern physics that Stephen Baxter demonstrates in this book, what with the multiple universe interpretation of quantum theory, wavefunction collapse, and spacetime manifolds, I did find a few bones to pick with the science. Especially, the prediction of the end of humanity two centuries hence based on the unlikelyhood of living too ea
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 03, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
It's always fun when you read a Sci-Fi novel and it starts off in the year 2010, where mankind is on the edge of extinction due to overpopulation and environmental damage. It does make you wonder if any politicians have ever read any Sci-fi, doesn't it?!

Anyway...a lot of my friends have been recommending Stephen Baxter to me for as long as I can remember and one suggested that I start with Manifold: Time. This fast-paced, space adventure centres around Reid Malenfant, a man who realises that ti
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
Eugene Yokota
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The movie 'Interstellar' came out in 2014, and I told my then-coworker Jim that I liked it, and I thought some scenes reminded me of '2001: A Space Odyssey' down to the bad ending. I may have mentioned about the notion of humanity's survival and the universe, some such. In any case, Jim told me that he thought the people who made the film must have read this book 'Manifold: Time' as some of the theme overlapped, and if I'm interested in this topic, I'd like it. I lost my book in Ireland halfway ...more
ashley c
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Deep, hypnotizing, grand.

Reminiscent of Clarke's 2001: The Space Odyssey and The Time Machine by Wells, and gives you as huge of an existential crisis as they do. I have not come across an interpretation of the creation of the universe, the multiverse, and the purpose of Man as ambitious as Baxter's, though. He had grand ideas. What if black holes, by their nature, were portals to universes close to ours? What if we could find out if these universes were similar to, or vastly different from ours
Teri Dluznieski
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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.
The Professor
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
“Sabatier units have been used in space before, for life-support applications. They have been tested by NASA and the Air and Space Force and have also been used on the space station.” Nice ideas shame about the writing. If an author is happy to forego the basic mechanics of prose fiction then I’m happy to forego the rest of his oeuvre. “Manifold: Time” is a slog of a novel featuring many crimes against the form but Baxter merely proves the truth of his bio: he’s an accomplished scientist and SF ...more
KRK the Unkillable
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Stephen Baxter needs to know his limitations. As a Big Idea farmer, he’s nearly untouchable. Want your brain twisted with some crazy hard science? He’s your guy. Hankering to experience pulpy golden-age SF thrills with 400% denser physics? Step right up. Need stories with a scope so huge it borders on mathematical abstraction? Just ask Uncle Stephen!

Want believable characters, realistic dialogue, and a plot worth caring about apart from the science? Keep walking, nerd. We’re doing science over h
Kelly Fugate
Nov 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Baxter is compared to Sir Arthur Clarke. NO nopity nope. I’ve enjoyed other series from Baxter. This one is hideous; I won’t even finish this volume, let alone the series.

Sir Arthur never dragged me through technobabble - Baxter explains the acronyms NASA & OSHA, yet military jargon is used in chunks as if Olde English was plopped down willy-nilly - nor left me feeling bored, frustrated, disappointed.

I wasted my time!! Part of my life I missed reading a good piece of SFF. I’m off Baxter.
Peter Bjarke Juul
Hyperintelligent, communist squids!

Sightseeing humanity's deep, deep future, the multiverse and the next 200 years of Earth history!

Space Travel! Space soldiers! Elon Musk as a rogue time traveller!

What's not to like?
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another great read from the master...!
Hard SF (but not *too* hard), intertwined with a salutary tale concerning the effects of a century of mankind's ruing the planet - turns out it doesn't matter anyway, as we're all going to croak in a couple of centuries, to make way for a new universe.
Bill Purdy
Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2017
I have always been a fan of the more space opera kind of science fiction like Star Wars, Star Trek or Dune. This book which is apparently the first in a series is very well written and is more hard scifi than anything else.
The story bends around the idea that within 200 years the earth and humanity would cease to exist and the result of this idea on society. There is one person responsible for changing the face of space exploration and space flight and he gets hindered by those in power who have
Mar 26, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Matthew Reads Junk
May 13, 2014 rated it did not like it

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
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Goodreads Librari...: Page count is incorrect 2 11 Jun 03, 2018 08:20AM  
Hard SF: Manifold Time 1 39 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

Other books in the series

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

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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—”
“It's never going to stop,’ Malenfant whispered. ‘It will consume the Solar System, the stars—’
This isn't some local phenomenon, Malenfant. This is a fundamental change in the structure of the universe. It will never stop. It will sweep on, growing at light speed, a runaway feedback fueled by the collapse of the vacuum itself. The Galaxy will be gone in a hundred thousand years, Andromeda, the nearest large galaxy, in a couple of million years. It will take time, but eventually—
‘The future has gone,’ Malenfant said. ‘My God. That’s what this means, isn’t it? The downstream can’t happen now. All of it is gone. The colonization of the Galaxy; the settlement of the universe; the long, patient fight against entropy...’ That immense future had been cut off to die, like a tree chopped through at the root. ‘Why, Michael? Why have the children done this? Burned the house down, destroyed the future—’
Because it was the wrong future. Michael looked around the sky. He pointed to the lumpy, spreading edge of the unreality bubble.
There. Can you see that? It's already starting...
‘What is?’
The budding... The growth of the true vacuum region is not even. There will be pockets of the false vacuum—remnants of our universe—isolated by the spreading true vacuum. The fragments of false vacuum will collapse. Like—
‘Like black holes.’ And in that instant, Malenfant understood. ‘That’s what this is for. This is just a better way of making black holes, and budding off new universes. Better than stars, even.’
Much better. The black holes created as the vacuum decay proceeds will overwhelm by many orders of magnitude the mere billion billion that our universe might have created through its stars and galaxy cores.
‘And the long, slow evolution of the universes, the branching tree of cosmoses?...’
We have changed everything, Malenfant. Mind has assumed responsibility for the evolution of the cosmos. There will be many daughter universes—universes too many to count, universes exotic beyond our imagining—and many, many of them will harbor life and mind.
‘But we were the first.’
Now he understood. This was the purpose. Not the long survival of humankind into a dismal future of decay and shadows, the final retreat into the lossless substrate, where nothing ever changed or grew. The purpose of humankind—the first intelligence of all—had been to reshape the universe in order to bud others and create a storm of mind. We got it wrong, he thought. By striving for a meaningless eternity, humans denied true infinity. But we reached back, back in time, back to the far upstream, and spoke to our last children—the maligned Blues—and we put it right. This is what it meant to be alone in the universe, to be the first. We had all of infinite time and space in our hands. We had ultimate responsibility. And we discharged it. We were parents of the universe, not its children.”
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