(2000) Stephen Baxter, Voyager, £16.99, hrdbk, 455pp
Second in the Manifold series (trilogy?), Space once again starts with Reid Malenfant inhabiting a puzzlingly space-apathetic Earth. Just as minds are turning once more to the Fermi Paradox (if there are aliens in the universe, why donít we see them?), infra-red detectors pick up activity in the asteroid belt. Malenfant works out where the visitors are entering the system and encounters, once again, the blue hoop of a wormhole network. As a very few humans struggle to establish contact with the visitors, Malenfant travels the universe, unaware of the threat that faces humankind... Space, on the whole, is a bit plodding, with side excursions into exotic biology reminiscent of Baxterís early short stories and, if there is to be some over-arcing plot to tie the Manifold books together, it is not yet apparent. Unfortunately Baxterís cosmological vistas seem all too familiar from his Xeelee books and, though this novel is fairly entertaining, I canít help but feel that this is all old hat. Hopefully I will be proved wrong and, eventually, there will be some point to all of this.
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