on 15 September 2001
In the three books in the manifold series Stephen baxter attempts to explain the 'Fermi paradox'. For those not in the know, the Fermi pardox states that the universe has been around for so long now that intelligent life has had plenty of time to develope but if it had it would be here by now!. In the first book 'Time' the story starts in a universe where life only exists on Earth. The second and perhaps weekest book in the series 'Space' has all the same characters as the first and even starts at the same time the first book started but this time the story is set in an alternate universe where life is everywhere. Now in 'Origon' the final book in the 'Manifold' series Stephen Baxter has set a compromise where life is everywhere and only on Earth, to explain how this is possible would give away too much plot. Origon starts with the moon dissapearing and being replaced by a new red moon thriving with life. Once again our hero 'Reid Malenfant' has to convince NASA to build a 'big dumb booster' rocket to get him into space and explore this new moon. What Malenfant doesn't tell them is that he has an alternate motive to get to the moon - his wife Emma is up there, teleported by a blue ring that magically appeared over South Africa. This is a gripping finale to the manifold series never slowing down to let you catch your breath. Time was a great read, Space tailed off a little but Origon has more than made uo for that it is a superb book - If you haven'tread it yet go out and get it now! And then read everything else that Stephen Baxter has written!
on 19 March 2003
Great book. I thought the first two in the series were fantastic, but this book didn't quite have the same 'ring' about it. Hoho. Still, great story which luckily held my attention. Although it may not for other lovers of hard Sci-Fi.
I am left feeling gutted. It almost feels like Baxter got a little bored near the end, or annoyed.
It's not fair. If there weren’t an infinite number of universes I'd be even more upset.
Part of me wishes I'd stopped at the second book... Although I doubt I, nor anyone who enjoyed the first two, would have been able to do that.
on 7 November 2002
This is hard science fiction (ie, Baxter knows what he's talking about). It throws modern protagonists into an environment where they are confronted with Neanderthals, australopithecines and other human ancestors, including previously unknown species invented by Baxter. What's particularly impressive is Baxter's vision of the psychology of the almost-humans - speculative, but highly convincing. Themes of alternative history and a (silly but enjoyable) theory of human origins are also dealt with. The writing is good, and the characterisation is fair.
This is part of the Manifold sequence of books - I recommend you read 'Space' before you read this (and perhaps 'Time', although it's not so good) but it's not essential. They feature the same characters in alternate timelines. This works well, and is not a way to pad out a novel to saga length!
There aren't many authors writing 'proper' SF at the moment. That said, you don't need to be an expert in science to enjoy this. If you are interested in human evolution, you will find it an extremely enjoyable piece of speculation!
on 1 October 2002
In the three books in the manifold series Stephen baxter attempts to explain the 'Fermi paradox'.
For those not in the know, the Fermi pardox states that the universe has been around for so long now that intelligent life has had plenty of time to develop but if it had it would be here by now!.
In the first book 'Time' the story starts in a universe where life exists only on Earth. The second and perhaps weekest book in the series 'Space' has all the same characters as the first and even starts at the same time the first book started but this time the story is set in an alternate universe where life is everywhere. Now in 'Origin' the final book in the 'Manifold' series Stephen Baxter has set a compromise where life is everywhere and only on Earth, to explain how this is possible would give away too much plot.
Origin starts with the moon disapearing and being replaced by a new red moon thriving with life. Once again our hero 'Reid Malenfant' has to convince NASA to build a 'big dumb booster' rocket to get him into space and explore this new moon. What Malenfant doesn't tell them is that he has an alternate motive to get to the moon - his wife Emma is up there, teleported by a blue ring that magically appeared over South Africa.
This is a gripping finale to the manifold series never slowing down to let you catch your breath. Time was a great read, Space tailed off a little but Origin has more than made uo for that. It is a superb book - If you haven't read it yet go out and get it now! And then read everything else that Stephen Baxter has written!
on 3 September 2002
I found first two books in the trilogy, Time and Space, excellent, and I had been looking forward to the release of Origin in paperback so that I could afford it! Both these books contained incredible concepts which nevertheless seemed to be well backed up with scientific theory (such as the very detailed description of the evolution of the galaxy in Time) but just as importantly they showed a deep understanding of human history that made the human side of the plot very believable, and hence very enjoyable.
However, I found Origin infuriatingly lacking in both of these. There were some 'big ideas', but even these were not as wide in scope as those found in the previous two books. In fact, I found that the 'climax' was little more than a rehashing of ideas fully developed in the other books, with some passages quoted almost verbatim. The beginning of the book was excellent, what I had come to expect from Baxter, but the main body of the book was a discussion of the 'society' of various hominids which, while interesting at first, became less so after a while. I was particularly annoyed at the way in which Baxter ended Shadow's story: a fairly major story thread which I had expected to join up with the others at the climax was instead unceremoniously terminated for no good reason. Likewise, the final destinies of Malenfant and Nemoto seemed unsatisfactory.
The first 100 pages of Origin would get 5 stars, easily, but the rest of the book was decidedly disappointing. Baxter can do better than this.
on 6 April 2011
Having thoroughly enjoyed both, Time and Space in the manifold series Origin was the natural next step, and I started reading this immediately after I finished "Space".
The book started off with some intriguing plot developments, and like all other books in the series, is set in an alternative reality, using the cast of the previous book. Namely, Reid Malenfant, Emma Stoney and Nemoto. Almost immediately our two main characters Reid and Emma are seperated and begin very different journeys. The whole book is split into sections/chapters revolving around a certain character as Baxter has done in other books of his and this provides us with several pages in one area before switching to another. This keeps the pace of the book up throughout the majority of the story, although things do start to drag slightly just after half way.
Baxters style of writing from the perspective of some of our lower evolved ancestors was certainly original, although did make for a confusing and somewhat unsure start to the book. But once the story evolved and the narrative put this in context it felt almost natural and made an interesting counterpoint to the modern humans perception of the world around them.
I agree with other reviewers who said they felt that the book rushed towards the end. This was certainly the impression I got as though Baxter was eager to complete the series. This becomes apparent in that 95% of the book progresses at a steady pace, with the majority of the big story revelations and ultimately the "Origin" of the manifold are revealed quickly towards the end of the book with a rather abrupt and unsatisfying ending.
That said the book was an enjoyable read and a satisfactory conclusion to the saga, but unfortunately it was definately the weaker of the three novels lacking both the emotional impact and sense of scale and awe that Baxter portrayed the universe as having, in the previous novels.
on 6 August 2001
I think that Origin is a book many have been waiting for after the success of the amazing prequels : Time and Space. Origin is the third and last one of the Manifold series, and once again, you are in contact with the same characters, in another universe. The action kicks right from the first pages of the book, while the familiar Blue Wheel appears in the Earth sky, taking Emma away onto this new Red Moon which has replaced our old grey Moon. That is to say, you're very quickly thrilled by the plot and want to finish the book as soon as possible to unravel all mysteries ! The description of all these different kind of hominids on the Red Moon by Baxter is really amazing, and it surely shows you the right place of Homo Sapiens Sapiens in the plurality of hominid races...till the end where you understand its true place in the Universe ! Yet Origin is not as vertiginous as Time or Space, pretty much different, especially because there is less cosmological hard science in it. You'll find more biology science. As for the conclusion, which is very satisfying, you won't be as amazed as in Time or Space, because the reader already holds most of the keys to this final conclusion. Anyway, it's very worth reading, and you won't get bored a slighest moment, Baxter knows how to satisfy his reader ! And the description and psychology of the encountered characters is very good, since you can feel yourself attached to many of these supposedly "inferior" hominids, which after all are not as inferior as many would think. This book is maybe a good lesson of humility and of acceptance of different species, different minds than yours, and for sure broadens your mind, as any great SF book should do ! Once again, congratulations Mister Baxter.
on 20 April 2008
Manifold is a series of three books. They're not a sequence, actually, as they describe parallel universes. The main character are the same, but the world they live in is different. Origin presents us a world where the good old Moon is replaced by a large red moon. As it happens, the main character, Reid Malenfant, loses his wife Emma on the new moon and has to rescue her.
Emma finds the new moon inhabited by various hominid species. Baxter offers us an interesting view to the life of different hominids, with a point of view of the hominids themselves and humans living with them. It's interesting, but it can also get slightly tedious - this is one long-winded book, with a plot that's a framework for all sorts of neat stuff Baxter wants to present.
But it works, for me at least, because even though I began reading book with some doubts, I soon got sucked into the events. It gets quite interesting and Baxter has some pretty wild ideas there. This book isn't for everybody (that is easy to see from the Amazon reviews, many of which give just one or two stars), but if you enjoyed the other Manifold books, this one is worth reading.
on 29 October 2013
There is an element of the book which seems to revel in the base behaviours of primate-like beings. Rape, infanticide, and excessive violence are described in almost glorified, pornographic terms. The protest will be that this is 'natural' animal behaviour but it is written through human eyes. This can be disturbing and while it is used to help the understanding of the behaviours of the characters, there were times when I considered if I really needed to be presented with the situations in such vivid terms. At the very least the book should have a health warning of the explicit nature of some of the writing.
The concept however is again, excellent. The base tenet of the Fermi-Hart Paradox using the Manifold familiar characters is great. Despite the recognition of the characters traits from previous books, they still feel fresh but at the same time familiar and comfortable. Baxter's writing style uses many scientific concepts to carry plot lines but even to a layman, it is easy to read and follow what is another in the series of great stories.
on 13 September 2010
This is no Sci Fi. I've been appreciating sci fi books since the early offerings of Asimov and Clark to the excellent works of Hamilton but this rubbish from Baxter is truly awful. I gave it my best and read all three books in the hope that there would be some merit, conclusion, thoughtful speculation or even a reasonable entertaining romp, but you can expect nothing except drivel on neanderthals, flawed characters and some borrowed iteration from the masters. . The sporadic interesting bits (eg Nasa) and they were sporadic just gave the reader some hope that there would be an improvement, but no such luck... Do not waste your time with this "series" unless it's a dare or a choice of reading them or sticking pins in your eyes... Try Hamilton, Asimov, Herbert, Huxley, Clark, Ballard... anybody..