Xeelee: Redemption by Stephen Baxter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Okay. I'm going to have to caveat the hell out of this novel.
I am BOTH waving my hands over my head like a green muppet AND I'm slamming my fists down on the floor, yelling, "Nooooooo!"
Let me unpack this:
As a long-time fan of Baxter and being a bonafide nerd about the Xeelee universe, I'm also extremely annoyed at Poole and all the relatives of Poole and all the alternate universe versions of Pool. (Although, I'm pretty okay with the software version of Poole. He's all right.)
YES, I get why so many Pooles are necessary and I even enjoyed the gimmick for quite some time, but ALSO as a long-time fan, I just want NEW CHARACTERS with all shiny awesome shit.
And let me be clear: this novel (and the one right before it) are JAMMED PACKED with shiny awesome shit. From the sheer scope, from the inception of the universe to the creation of the Ring (or here, called the Wheel), and far beyond the last star winking out, we've ALSO got multiple do-overs in alternate universes, tons of time-like loops, galaxy-spanning wars (or you'll see, you spoiler hounds,) and so much more. Just read the novel if you want to have all that neat stuff.
It is AMAZEBALLS.
And so that brings me to one of the hardest things I've ever had to say:
NEW READERS, START WITH Xeelee Vengeance (book 16), continue with Xeelee Redemption (book 17).
As a new reader, getting to know Poole is no big deal. Baxter has improved his writing over the years, too. If I had read these two novels without ever once knowing ANYTHING about Baxter or the Xeelee, I would have started worshipping him as an SF god.
Do you want a scope like Cixin Liu's recent trilogy? How about some classic Asimov or Clarke? Do you want HARDCORE magical science with good science but taken to totally magical levels? Do you want an obsessive story that has taken on mythical levels?
And here's the good part: you get a total overview of the over-story. If you get hooked and need to fill in ALL the massive amazing blanks, THEN go back and read the entire Xeelee sequence.
It's a total win-win. The best of all worlds.
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