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Vacuum Diagrams [Mass Market Paperback]

Stephen Baxter
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: £4.87 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 April 2001

Baxter’s future history, known as the Xeelee sequence, is an exemplar of the form: it comprises his first four novels, Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux and Ring, and these marvellous linked stories.

The stories are like pearls on the timeline of the sequence, which stretches from the formation of life in the quagma to the virtual extinction of baryonic life in this universe. Owners of the universe, the Xeelee, first contact photino birds at the beginning, then flee them at the end, having modified their own evolutionary history in a failed attempt to defeat the birds, creatures of dark matter. They flee through the eponymous Ring of exotic matter, and some humans will follow them.

Baxter’s magnificent, mind-boggling ideas infuse the stories with enduring meaning and bring with them a sense of perspective married to wonder to be found nowhere else. There are new and amazing facets of the future here, and the reader can also once more spend time with Michael Poole, the wormhole technology genius from Timelike Infinity; with the wonderful Lieserl, modified human being inhabiting the sun; with the microscopic humans of the world of Flux; with the aliens threatening earth, Sqeeum, Qax, photino birds; above all, with the Xeelee.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Frequently Bought Together

Vacuum Diagrams + Xeelee: An Omnibus: Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux, Ring + Resplendent: Destiny's Children Book Four (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Price For All Three: £24.77

Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Voyager; Reissue edition (1 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061059048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061059049
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 11.1 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 171,747 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


‘The best SF author in Britain’

‘Baxter recalls the most visionary moments of Wells and Clark… constructs a human-scale drama out of the most far-reaching implications of current cosmological theory… makes E Doc Smith look like a minimalist.’

‘Baxter sends into free-fall the most awesome ideas in science fiction today… What makes these ideas assimilable is the prism of people through which they are refracted… good SF reveals the mortal host in the machine.’
The Times

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Stephen Baxter’s history of the universe

While the human race struggles against alien oppressors, an even greater epic battle rages between the deadly dark-matter photino birds and their implacable enemy, the Xeelee …

These marvellous linked stories bring Baxter’s widely praised future history to the door at the end of time and space … which has been opened by the fabulous Xeelee, the ultimate sentient beings, the most astonishing engineers of all time.

“Baxter sends into free-fall the most awesome ideas in science fiction today”

“ … the reaction is that which C.S. Lewis referred to when he described science fiction as the only genuine consciousness expanding drug”

“A fine and important collection”

“A luminous collection … Baxter can overwhelm you with a traditional SF ‘sense of wonder’ until your jaw drops”

“This book’s depth almost produces vertigo – a classic in the making”

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
At the instant of his birth, a hundred impressions cascaded over him. Read the first page
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Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Xeelee book 12 April 2003
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
Vacuum Diagrams is a collection of short stories set in Baxter’s Xeelee universe (as explored in the novels Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux and Ring), but far from being a collection of odds and ends this probably stands as the ultimate Xeelee book. The stories are laid out in chronological order, and together with linking material this forms a complete history of Baxter’s universe, from Big Bang to the ultimate destruction of all baryonic life.
The stories themselves are mostly enjoyable, although Baxter’s problems with shoehorning in hard sf exposition with storytelling are often evident. Its also noticeable how Baxter’s earlier tales are much more light-hearted than his later, more confident work. A number of the stories also seem to be either direct or subtle lifts from his novels, (eg; Stowaway is a direct extract from Raft, while Hero takes an incident from Flux and retells it with a different spin), though its difficult to tell if these were short stories that were later developed into novels, or cynical reworking to sell the same idea twice. The quality remains high though, so even when a tale such as The Baryonic Lords is obviously just a dry-run of the novel Ring, its still enjoyable stuff. Possibly the biggest criticism of the collection is the lack of range of the stories, most concentrating in a rather narrow band of classic hard sf ‘new invention/discovery’ format.
All in all though, if you are only going to read one of Baxter’s Xeelee novels, this should be the one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just the big jobs please! 2 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Not for Stephen Baxter the piffling concerns of most science fiction this is a man who goes for the big picture. A set of stories which reveal the past and future history of not just mankind but the whole universe itself until the stars dim and go out!
I confess I have found some of his books pretty hard going (Raft, Flux etc) but this is much more digestible, a lot more fun and you don't need a Phd in quantum mechanics to enjoy it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent piece of hard sf 16 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This is an excellent piece of work, and one of the very best hard-sf books I have come across. It is actually a collection of short stories, but you will find that you read it as a novel with the short stories as chapters. The stories describe the history and fate of the human race in the evolution of the universe controlled by the mysterious Xeelee. What's so good about this book is that Baxter actually manages to present the universe on a plate to the reader, not only a snapshot of it, but the complete past, present and future of it all!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A superb collection 13 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Stephen Baxter is undoubtedly the best science fiction author in Britain. His intricately plotted science-rich books provoke fascination and awe with apparent ease. This book of short stories is based on the Xeelee Sequence, which comprises the novels 'Raft', 'Timelike Infinity', 'Flux' and 'Ring'. These extra stories make his fictional universe much richer and more detailed. However, if you have not read the Xeelee Sequence, it's likely that you will find many of the stories confusing. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great future history clever stuff 10 Jun 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am reading this through now, very good interesting and thought provoking stories. I like it and look forward to reading his Xeelee omnibus.
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5.0 out of 5 stars post Grant Morrison excellence 16 Sep 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Awesome. Read it. Then buy Snyder's Swamp Thing. The Red is waiting, the Green is struggling and the Rot is coming.
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