Xeelee: Vengeance by Stephen Baxter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Xeelee sequence is one of THOSE huge storylines that I just can't get out of my head. It's a monolith of HUGE HUGE HUGE space and time stories that spread from the inception of the universe to the very end of the universe, countless time-travel re-creations, battle-lines that re-form all of HISTORY many, many times, and often just punch ultimate holes in the universe to GET THE F**K out and into alternate universes.
And through it all, Humans have become the runner-ups in the galaxy-wide conflict while being unable to communicate with the more advanced and inscrutable Xeelee who freaking SHEPHERD STARS or create a naked singularity out of a galactic core. You know. Little things like that.
This particular book, late in the many, many battles and time-rewrites and massive battles, takes us back to a time -- again -- to the Pooles. And between putting a wormhole into the sun to heat remote parts of the Solar System, uncovering and engaging with an ancient Xeelee artifact that had been buried for millions of years despite having come from a very distant future (or discovering that Poole, himself, is a grand hero celebrated half a million years in the future,) (again), things soon go to total s**t again.
The war never ends. Not when time-like loops and vast scales are matched with even more vast scales in multiple timelines.
This is HARDCORE hard SF, folks. I LOVE IT.
So why did I give it only 4 stars?
Because of Poole. The first time we had an alternate timeline with another version of Poole or one of the extended historical Poole family, I was like... okay. This could get very interesting.
The fourth time, it was beginning to look like a gimmick.
The eighth time, I was already begging to just GIVE ME A NEW CHARACTER ALREADY.
If I was going to judge these books on just that one little annoyance, I'd probably say toss it only 2 stars. But when I judge these books on their great over-plots, the tactics and strategy, the mind-blowing physics and scale and creative uses of ... EVERYTHING worldbuilding? I have to give it a full 5 stars. Every time. Every book.
In fact, that's why I keep coming back. It's really awesome. Deeply, deeply satisfying.
And pity humanity.
Even Poole pulls some awesome s**t. Give him some credit.
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