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on 26 March 2015
Oh dear. Now I know where the stilted characters come from the in the Long Earth series with Terry Pratchett.
Firstly, the plot: As others have said, the basic idea of incredibly expensive and sophiticated space craft carrying convicts and the dregs of society to colonise a new world is ridiculous. At least one other plot line fizzles out entirely.
The science: The planet seems to be about the size of a county, judging by the colonists all meeting up and walking quarter of the way round at a snail's pace. I also rather doubt the climate and the 'absolute stablity' of the orbit.
The pacing: I had to skip read several extremely boring back stories to keep going - but did keep going (hence 2 stars).
The characters were beyond one dimensional - the women in particular, not only didn't change at all througout the decades of the book, but didn't even change their mood!! Appalling.
Spolier alert: the ending is so ludicorus I shan't bother reading any more Stephen Baxter.

There is good SF out there still: Ann Leckie, Neal Asher, Iain M Banks, Simon Mordem, Peter Hamilton not to mention the classics. Don't waste your time on this.
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on 26 August 2015
Excellent British sci fi (one of the protagonists was born in Manchester) that delivers two parallel stories. One centred on developments in science and politics in our own solar system, the other following the fate of a group of colonists rather heartlessly abandoned on a barely habitable planet in humanity's first attempt at interstellar travel. There are some interesting aliens on the Proxima planet and fascinating ideas about an ecosystem that evolved on a world which always keeps the same spot facing its sun. The two stories merge after the discovery of alien artifacts reminiscent of those in Arthur Clarke's Space Odyssey.
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on 18 March 2015
Stephen Baxter has a breadth and depth of vision which is truly astounding. I have read a number of his books and have been blown away. This story is about human colonisation of the solar system and the colonisation of a planet of a nearby star (4 light years away). Although the text rambles at times and is somewhat overlong, nevertheless, it is still a gripping story. Trouble is human are humans wherever they go (even when the Earth is left far behind) with all their creativity, skill and genius but also their potential for massive destructiveness, and Proxima highlights this very well. Interesting speculative anthropology of how solar system and interstellar colonisation might possibly be.
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on 30 July 2015
I bought this because, having been a Terry Pratchett fan for years and thoroughly enjoyed The Long Earth series, it seemed only fair to read some of the 'other guy's' work too. Great, believable and strong characters had me hooked straight away. There is enough explanation of how stuff works to make it appealing to non-scientists and enough real science thrown in to appeal to those of us who consider ourselves scientists. I could feel echoes of The Long Earth series in certain places and, definitely, one or two of the characters of Long Earth have seamlessly passed across to Proxima and assumed new names but that's all right. Anybody who hasn't read the Long Earth would not, of course, make the connections. The story moves along at a good pace and it is difficult to put the book down (always a good sign) but very easy to pick up and resume after one has been forced to do so, for example by the need for sleep, sustenance or the call of nature. I'd certainly recommend this to all of Terry Pratchett's fans and urge them to buy it; I'd also recommend it to everyone else. Suffice to say, when I finished it, there was only the briefest of interlude before I was back on Amazon purchasing the sequel.
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on 22 February 2014
This is the first time I am leaving a review. It is not usually my style but felt so outraged by the book that I felt only reasonable to air my views. Very poor indeed. I have read almost all of his previous books and have respect for him but this book is shockingly poor in storyline. Character building is one thing but one cannot make characters when the story is simply non existent...
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on 1 October 2013
Overall a nice space opera vista spoiled by poor characters who on the whole were less believable and strained the credibility of the narrative. At times I felt I was reading a teen book for girls. The bad guys were paper- mache who melted when giving a good talking too. Hardly scary, tension building or even interesting. A bit like a cheap novels where the hulking villain is put down with a simple a chop to the neck. Just prosaic, a bit lazy and makes the actual novel just thin. I found myself scanning the narrative just to see what happened to the storey having lost interest in the chracters. And this is where Baxter seems to be now. The grand view is interesting but the hard graft of building credible charterers is poorly done. Frankly I see more scary guys on the TV news in world hot spots. I guess when reality is more hard core than fiction then perhaps the fiction is becoming formulaic and over reliant on target demographic writing than genuine creativity. Overall such books make me simply wait till they're cheap so I don't waste money. And increasingly with SF that's becoming my strategy or just use the library
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on 11 June 2016
Baxter delivers it all once again in a carefully crafted vision of our possible future. As always the characters are well written, the descriptions vivid and the plot paced brilliantly. To those that know this authors work there are familiar themes from a multiverse. I highly recommend this book can't wait to read the next.
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on 26 December 2013
I would consider myself a Stephen Baxter fan, but this book is a mess! The plot is all over the place, the premise that our first visit to an extra-solar world would be to dump a bunch of convicts and 'see what happens' is laughable and one major storyline fizzles out into (almost) nothing. I can only surmise that Stephen Baxter had a deadline to meet and delivered a half-finished, poorly-structured novel that really stands apart from the rest of his work (and not in a good way). His next book won't be an automatic purchase for me. I'll wait to read the reviews first...
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on 13 November 2013
With hints of echoes to Britain's colonial past where miscreants were shipped off to Australia, this story concerns UN citizens effectively enslaved in the furtherance of a rush to empire on the part of the UN to prevent a Chinese Hegemony getting there first.
Poor old Yuri Eden is put to cryosleep by his parents, then wakes up 100 years later being punished for their generation's crimes in a colony on Mars. He then is sent off on the first colony ship to Proxima Centauri, where the colonists have a bad time. As is the way with colonies, far removed from the corridors of power, they soon develop their own ideas, after a bit of mutual slaughter.
Parallel plot lines see Yuri being whisked back to the solar system by buried Alien technology then back to Proxima C where he finds some more. Then we find that Yuri had a different, very historically significant, name in the past, just before the UN-China rivalry comes to its inevitable denouement.
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2013
Proxima is a story of humankind's first tentative steps into interstellar space. It tells of a ragtag band of colonists abandoned on a distant planet by a brutal bureaucracy, while back in the solar system tensions build between major powers, exacerbated by the discovery of mysterious alien technologies.

It is a very similar work to Allen Steele's Coyote Novels, except that it probably covers in one volume similar story arcs to the first three of that sequence. So in both we get we get suspended animation, a decades long journey to a nearby star system, conflict amongst colonists, global warming ravaging earth, wormholes, a second phase of increased colonisation, and discredited historical AIs..

On the positive side, it is a real page turner. I read it in a couple of sittings when I probably should've been doing other things, but Baxter is a skilful enough storyteller to hook the reader. Also the lead characters are unusually endearing for Baxter. The central relationship between reluctant hero Yuri and strong, self reliant Mardina is entertaining. It should also be said that scientist Stef Kalinski is a direct descendant of Asimov's Susan Calvin. As is generally the case with Baxter, this is authentic hard SF and so the genuine science is sound, and the speculative stuff coherent.

The major weakness is the set up. Once the action gets to the planet of Proxima C, everything is fine and progresses credibly, but I'm sorry, the device used to get that set of people to that planet stretches belief too far. Eighteenth and nineteenth century transportation as a model for inter stellar exploration just doesn't wash, and nor do the plot inconsistencies. So for example, cryogenics have been developed, but dangerous criminals wander, fully conscious, round a ship on a decades long interstellar voyage.

Above all this is a Stephen Baxter novel, stronger on science and action than on character, and more than any other SF author I've read since Heinlein, he wears his politics and prejudices openly. So he is a Euro sceptic, introvert who has little time for politicians, sees entrepreneurs as fundamentally benign, would prefer technocratic government and has a strong sino-phobic streak. What is it with Chinese initiated Armageddon Stephen ?

Finally, I didn't pick up before reading this that it is intended to be the first of a sequence. Good job - there are so many plot threads left dangling and questions unresolved it'll take some work to bring them back together.

So, an enjoyable but uneven read
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