Science Fiction Book Review


Origin

Origin (2001) Stephen Baxter, Voyager, 6.99, pbk, 455pp, ISBN 0-00-651184-8

Disappointing end to the 'Manifold' trilogy, begun in Time and continued in Space. This time around ex-astronaut Reid Malenfant loses Emma Stoney through one of those big blue hoops and our familiar moon is replaced by a small red world. Emma discovers on this new moon that it has been populated with many different species of hominid, apparently from separate continua. Malenfant uses the 'big dumb booster' to come searching for Emma, only to be imprisoned by religious fanatic homo sapiens, while a race of super intelligent gorillas try to fathom the mystery of the manifold...

I can't discuss my major criticisms of the book without giving away the ending. As another solution to the Fermi Paradox (if intelligent alien life exists, why don't we see evidence of them) it's a bit weak. There's a whole storyline around a hominid character called Shadow that is a complete waste of time, and comes across as padding. This is not, to my mind, Baxter at his best. The writing seemed tired and, as such, it was hard to get any enthusiasm for reading this book. Usually I find Baxter so fascinating that I can't wait to finish his books. I suppose that if you've read the first two books that, like me, you'll plod through this third anyway, but don't be surprised if you find it all a bit anti-climatic.

Tony Chester


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