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Stone Spring (Gollancz) [Hardcover]

Stephen Baxter
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Jun 2010 Gollancz

8,000 years ago Europe was a very different place. England was linked to Holland by a massive swathe of land. Where the North Sea is now lay the landmass of Northland. And then came a period of global warming, a shifting of continents and, over a few short years, the sea rushed in and our history was set.

But what if the sea had been kept at bay? Brythony is a young girl who lives in Northland. Like all her people she is a hunter gatherer, her simple tools fashioned from flint cutting edges lodged in wood and animal bone. When the sea first encroaches on her land her people simply move. Brythony moves further travelling to Asia. Where she sees mankind's first walled cities. And gets an idea. What if you could build a wall to keep the sea out?

And so begins a colossal engineering project that will take decades, a wall that stretches for hundreds of miles, a wall that becomes an act of defiance, and containing the bones of the dead, an act of devotion. A wall that will change the geography of the world. And it's history.

Stephen Baxter has become expert at embedding human stories into the grandest sweeps of history and the most mind-blowing of concepts. STONE SPRING begins a trilogy that will tell the story of a changed world. It begins in 8,000 BC with an idea and ends in 1500 in a world that never saw the Roman Empire, Christianity or Islam. It is an eye-opening look at what history could so easily have been and an inspiring tale of how we control our future.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (3 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575089180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575089181
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 15.3 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 659,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Baxter is the pre-eminent SF writer of his generation. Published around the world he has also won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton. He lives in Northumberland with his wife.

Here are the Destiny's Children novels in series order:


Time's Tapestry novels in series order:

Navigator Weaver

Flood novels:


Time Odyssey series (with Arthur C Clarke):

Time's Eye

Manifold series:

Phase Space

Mammoth series:

Mammoth (aka Silverhair)
Long Tusk
Ice Bones

NASA trilogy:


Xeelee sequence:

Timelike Infinity
Vacuum Diagrams (linked short stories)
The Xeelee Omnibus (Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux, Ring)

The Web series for Young Adults:


Coming in 2010:

Stone Spring - book one of the Northland series

Product Description

Book Description

The epic story of one prehistoric girl's bid to change her future and the future of our world. This is alternate history at its most mindblowing.

About the Author

Stephen Baxter is the pre-eminent SF writer of his generation. Published around the world he has also won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton. He lives in Northumberland with his wife.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More What If from a master of the genre 16 July 2010
I'm late to the party with Baxter. I came on board with Flood, wholly because I'm only interested in fantasy/sci-fi set in the world I know. This tells the story of Doggerland (renamed Northland here) before the sea rises of 6000BC submerged it and cut Britain off from mainland Europe. It's a "what if" - the question being what if Doggerland was never submerged, and this - the first book in a trilogy - tells the story of how that might have happened. It's full of solid characters, measured pathos, and often exciting action. And you learn stuff! 4 stars.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slow but steady 29 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Quite a departure from Baxter's usually fast-paced, space & time sweeping epics.
Extreme attention to detail and personality development - almost microscopically so.
An enjoyable read, but slow and sometimes plodding.
Don't know if I could make it through 2 more of these boggy slogs, but will give 'Bronze' a try in hope that it moves along with a bit more pace.
So many great writers seem to produce more lugubrious works as they over-mature. Hopefully, Stephen will not exhibit such a denouement just yet, as he is capable of attaining even greater heights.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Prehistoric boy scouts tackle climate change... 11 Aug 2012
I am afraid that I made a mistake buying this book. I have most of this author's work to date so bought this one without any hesitation. I was expecting science fiction, but instead got a rather 'cardboard' attempt at recreating the deep past. Lots of research had obviously been done, but after a few hundred pages of info-dumped details about plants and animals, and a stereotyped set of characters (the nice guy, his macho father, the independent-minded woman he loves etc,) I had had enough. Apparently there is an 'alternative history' thread driving this (and two later novels) about confronting climate change and remaking our future as a result.There could well be some interesting science fiction written about the really giant leaps made in prehistory (intelligence, speech, tools, fire, farming etc) but this novel seems to want to go for trilogy length by attenuating out a very thin 'master plot' way beyond its natural length. A short story would have sufficed
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good story despite its flaws 29 Sep 2011
Baxter has long since established himself as having a great talent of speculation, and he demonstrates here that he's just as good at doing it in the stone age as he is in the distant future.

The central idea behind this story is the building of a wall to hold back the rising seas, which overhwhelmed low-lying land between England and Europe in the real world. What we have is a compelling story about how this affects the main characters, and the conflicts that result. The characters of this novel are one of its strengths, and demonstrate Baxter's continuing trend of writing more complex and believable characters in recent books. Few of the main characters here are completely likeable, and the audience is lead to empathise with different characters at different stages of the story.

There are two reasons why this doesn't get a 5. The first is the considerable number of implausibilities in the story. I seriously doubt that the hunter-gatherers described at the start of the novel would have got anywhere building the wall as it's described, and the likelihood of mother and baby surviving an amateur Cesarean section is also pretty low. Finally, the pseduo-human tree-dwelling "leafy boys" are also pretty ridiculous. They seem to be an attempt at describing stone age aliens. And like stone age aliens, they don't really work.

The other problem in my view is the wall, or rather the lack thereof. I was quite surprised at how little of it we actually saw. Once the idea of the wall is hatched, it serves as more of a backdrop and a motivator for the rest of the story. The novel might be better termed "a story about the conflict that took place while the wall was being built", rather than a story about the wall.

What story Baxter does tell, however, he tells well. I look forward to seeing where he takes the concept next time.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Baxter magic 30 July 2010
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
If you love your alternate history books, then you've more than likely come across Stephen's work before. Here in this latest offering the tale is set in 8000BC when the North Sea didn't exist and the whole area is known as Northland. What Stephen asks in this title is "What if they built a stone wall that would prevent the land from flooding?

It is interesting, it's fascinating but above all else Stephen brings to the fore an offering that has a believability about it. Great stuff and one that will more than please readers of the old tales especially when it's backed up with credible research and great prose.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fine story, but logistically implausible 3 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I expected to hate this book. It's set in the Mesolithic, in an age when the North Sea was still mostly land, and tells an alternate history of how a tribe of primitives kept the sea back by building dykes. This is, of course, absurd. They lacked the productive surplus to support the workforce this would have needed. Baxter tries to address this by having them trade with other tribes for labour, but still fails to address the question of how to feed the work force. No matter where or when your story is, you can't ignore basic logistics and still have a world sufficiently realistic that a reader can immerse himself in the story.

And that's not the only utterly absurd piece of Baxter's world. The tribe of tree-top dwellers are also ridiculous.

But never mind that. Baxter salvages from his irreparably flawed world a decent story of inter-personal conflicts, intrigue and jealousy. Why only three stars? It's daft, and I don't think he can sustain it over the two sequels that are supposedly on the way.
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