Top critical review
Gripping story with a fair few typos.
on 18 June 2014
So here we have a huge leap forward in time from the story of Coalescent. Exultant is mostly stand alone, but you'll benefit from having read Coalescent first.
Baxter has a love of explaining how all of the science in his novels. In Coalescent, Baxter hides his exposition in the form of Peter - essentially Peter is Baxters's voice - who rather self-deprecatingly on Baxter's part, is thought of as a bit of an oddball.
Baxter takes this to the next level in this second book. Unless there's a plot reason preventing it, every character is a physics/planetary body or evolution expert. In short, they are all Peter oddballs. They give long winded explanations of how everything works, what it is that they are seeing etc.. It grates.
If Baxter feels the need to give technical background to his creation, I'd much rather he did it as a narrator. It's so unconvincing to have characters go on and on about how particular aspects of quanta work. More than that, the listener always chimes in with their own elaborations and continues the conversation. Normal people don't do that. Normal people make the phone call, they don't talk about how the voice data is encoded and routed through wireless exchanges until it meets a satellite uplink whereupon the signal may be passed through multiple satellites until it is transmitted to the nearest receiver to the recipient of the call (and so on, and so on....).
We just use our tech because it's there and most people don't know or care how it works. In the future it'll be the same, because after all, we are human (or post-human, or ur-human or what have you).
This gripe aside, Baxter progresses his timeline with much aplomb and it's a very enjoyable, readable ride.