Phase Space (Manifold series) Hardcover – 5 Aug 2002
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Phase Space is a collection of 25 SF stories by Stephen Baxter, many thematically linked to his "Manifold" trilogy (Time, Space and Origin) and other novels of cosmic scope.
"The phase space of a system is the set of all conceivable states of that system," says the first page. As with "Manifold" these stories explore possible (and significantly linked) states of Earth and the universe, alternate timelines offering different solutions to Baxter's favourite cosmological question--the Fermi Paradox.
It's a simple idea. According to our best scientific theories there's nothing special about Earth or the Solar System. Intelligent life has evolved here--ourselves. It's likely to evolve elsewhere. The skies should be full of other intelligences. Where are they?
Perhaps our theories are wrong and we're in a galactic quarantine. Perhaps what we see through our telescopes is a clever fake--but supposing we overload the capabilities of the fakers? Maybe intelligence always destroys itself before crossing interstellar space, or something kindly takes emerging life away to a safer place. Perhaps there's teeming intelligence out there, but we're not listening on the right wavelength. Perhaps they're hiding...?
Another Baxter theme revisited again in this mind-stretching collection is the high-tech romance of the space programme and walking on the Moon. Alternate histories of space exploration are deftly conjured up, some of them wonderfully paranoid. Yet another theme is deep time--the unthinkable gulf from Big Bang to the final extinction of the universe and possibilities of life at both extremes.
Baxter at his best has a bleakly lyrical view of the remote future, reminiscent of Arthur C Clarke. There are homages to other classics, including Asimov's "Nightfall" and even Dante's Divine Comedy whose final vision of paradise takes on a highly unexpected SF meaning. --David Langford
‘Baxter is taking basic sf ideas and rebuilding them based on current science, technology and politics – a tried and true method sor sf writers but no less effective for that. Baxter apparently has the ambition and the energy to reinvigorate hard sf all by himself’
Locus on Space
‘Like all good sf, Space provokes questions. What kind of species are we?… the other reason Space works well is that Baxter is a good writer… his format and style are assured and keep you happily suspended and engrossed. Right up to the satisfyingly vertiginous climax… Malenfant is one of sf’s more memorable characters’
‘Pacy, visionary, extravagantly imagined, Time places Baxter firmly in the tradition of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. How reassuring to know that while so many authors are lying in the gutter of the information superhighway, someone at least is still looking at the stars’
‘Time is a big ambitious book… science fiction at its best’
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Weakest of the six sections is, in my view, 'Worlds', in which stories become bogged down in repetitive detail concerning the space programmes of this and other worlds. Tales in 'Worlds' and 'Open Loops' often reach conclusions which are too obscure for readers to reasonably be expected to untangle, and suffer for this. That having been said, one of the most mind-bending stories – 'Dante Dreams' – is also one of the best for its originality and profound ideas.
'Phase Space' is by no means Baxter’s finest work, especially as the similarity of some stories and repetitiveness of ideas can take the edge off the writing, but it still provides entertaining, thought-provoking reading.
Pieces such as 'Open Loops', 'Sun-Cloud', 'The We Who Sing' and 'The Gravity Mine' explore the idea that other forms of intelligent life might exist or once have existed out in the cosmos. Baxter takes various scenarios, from the distant past - a mere few hundred thousand years post-Big Bang - to the distant future - trillions of years from now, when the universe is cold and dark - and supposes various alien civilisations, each of them coming to terms with their world and each of them with their own versions of the Fermi Paradox.
One of Baxter's favourite themes is space exploration and it is no accident that many of the stories take astronauts as their main characters: including 'Poyekhali 3201', an imagining of Yuri Gagarin's experience as the first man in space. One of the best stories in the collection is 'War Birds', in which the Cold War has escalated into space and the Shuttle fleet has fallen under the control of USAF, becoming an agent of destruction for a militaristic US government intent on demonstrating its capabilities to the rest of the world.
As interesting as such alternate histories are, however, they are unrelated to the main theme of the collection.Read more ›
How could we really prove that the stars and galaxies, we see
on the night sky, aren't simulated on some great shell that
surrounds the entire solar system? A shell that simulates not only photons, but also such exotica as cosmis rays and neutrinos etc. ???
And beyond the shell lies the REAL universe.
A universe that we know absolutely nothing of! According to this "planetarium hypothesis".
The "controllers" might have created our little "zoo"
for the sanity of the human mind? Or they might be
fastforwarding humanity inside some exclusion zone,
to see how it turns out? Perhaps the universe
we know is some elaborate illusion that protects us from
a more fearful reality?
In acclaimed SF author Stephen Baxters book "Phase Space"
it all comes back to Fermi paradox: If the universe is filled
with life, why aren't the aliens here? Why don't we see them?
His heroes poke at the bubble and see if the walls
come crumbling down. If so they would rejoice. Finally, humans
would see the truth. The "controllers" from the outside finally
forced to reveal themselfes!!!
But there might be many kinds of bubbles though.
There could be a bubble of consciousness, where everything except
consciousness itself is fake. For all we know, even our bodies
might be simulated, so that the boundary of reality is drawn
around our very consciousness.
As always, Stephen Baxter is good! One exciting
idea swiftly follows the next and keeps the reader thoroughly entertained!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some fantastic ideas and narratives as ever from Britain's best Sci Fi writer. Really gets you thinking about life, the universe and everythingPublished on 27 Mar. 2014 by Amazon Customer
A superb book which entertains, and lingers in the memory for a long time. Can't wait to read more by this author.Published on 26 Jan. 2014 by Charlielola
What ifs and what if not. The crossroad dilemma.
One can't choose one's destiny... or can one?
Last in the series.
These stories feature a common theme of sentience, suffering and death. In some of the stories sentient entities are created in order to perform certain tasks, and the question... Read morePublished on 8 Sept. 2004 by Justin Murphy
It is very difficult to discover good books of this genre simply by reading the short description available. Read morePublished on 23 Aug. 2002