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Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Manifold: Time

Categories: [ Books ]

ISBN: 034543076X

© Amazon.fr

First volume of the Manifold trilogy, Time has been published in 2000 by Stephen Baxter.

2010. Reid Malenfant, who had been rejected by NASA as an astronaut still dreams to go into space. Since he cannot do it in the traditional way, he decides to build his own space rockets using available technology in order to go mining the asteroids. His ex-wife, Emma Stoney is still working for him as a project manager. One day, Cornelius Taine approaches Malenfant and convices him using a statistical theory that within two years a major catastrophe is going to occur within the next two-hundred years, provoking the end of the world. He is however convinced that if mankind has survived, it will try to send a message back in time. Using a neutrino-based radiotransmission model that allows waves to travel back in time, they manage to pick up a message that directs them to one particular asteroid called Cruithne. Malenfant decides to change his mission goal from an easy to reach, rich in metals asteroid to Cruithne. The first mission sent there is manned by a genetically enhanced squid and discovers the presence of a blue circle that transports the probe traversing it to the future. They discover eventually that humanity has survived, but that in the very far future, matter in the universe is decaying and that mankind barely survives rather than lives. Meanwhile, prodigiously intelligent and slightly autistic children have been born for several years all over the world and seem to affectionate blue rings. Taine is convinced that they are somehow linked to the ring found on Cruithne. While a manned mission counting Malenfant, Stoney, Taine and one “blue child” called Michael is sent to Cruithne just before being arrested by the authorities, the blue children are being feared by the populations of Earth which view them as a new race going to take over humanity in the future. A group of these children, doing advanced research on fundamental physics manages however to escape to the moon. Meanwhile, the party on Cruithne is stranded there after being attacked by the descendant of the squid, which have taken over the asteroid and prepare to migrate to the Trojans (a remote asteroid cluster). Michael steps into the ring and disappears. Later, Military forces from Earth (mainly trying to show that they still control something) attack Cruithne, but all except one soldier are destroyed by the squids. Our heroes escape the wrath of surviving soldier by stepping into the circle. They are transported through parallel universes where the rules of physics are so different that matter cannot necessarily exist, witnessing their Big-Bangs. Each time they step again into the ring, they come a little bit closer to their original universe. Taine then sends back in time the message that would lead them to the exploration of Cruithne. Just after that, the soldier who has followed them finds them and Taine gets killed trying to protect the other two, providing them with the soldier's equipment and allowing them to survive a bit longer. Malenfant and Stoney manage to finally come back to Cruithne, five years after leaving, just in time for Emma to die. Malenfant, feeling responsible for Emma's death because he forced her to come with him to Cruithne, commits suicide while jumping into the circle. During those five years, NASA has built a base on the Moon next to the one built by the blue children, in an attempt to control what they are doing. Malenfant wakes up in what appears to be a hotel room, and meets there Michael, explaining that his conciousness has been transferred into the giant computer that allows humanity to survive in the very far future. Michael tells him that he can change the past, which he gladly accepts. In the new future, Emma is sent to the Moon to negociate with the children who are building a doomsday machine that would destroy the whole universe and recreate a new one. Their goal is to give a new start to this universe, trying to prevent humanity to surviving in horrible conditions in the far future. Floating in space far above the solar system, Michael and him watch the expolsion on the Moon extend to Earth, to the solar system, before being themselves anihilated by it.

This book is similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey in the sense that it starts like a hard science novel but ends up in a psychedelic way. The end is quite depressing (but the alternative predicted there is not really better).

[ Posted on March 14th, 2007 at 19:02 | no comment | ]