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Summary

Stephen Baxter's highly acclaimed first novel and the beginning of his stunning Xeelee Sequence finally enters the SF Masterwork series!

A spaceship from Earth accidentally crossed through a hole in space-time to a universe where the force of gravity is one billion times as strong as the gravity we know. Somehow the crew survived, aided by the fact that they emerged into a cloud of gas surrounding a black hole, which provided a breathable atmosphere.

Five hundred years later, their descendants still struggle for existence, divided into two main groups. The Miners live on the Belt, a ramshackle ring of dwellings orbiting the core of a dead star, which they excavate for raw materials. These can be traded for food from the Raft, a structure built from the wreckage of the ship, on which a small group of scientists preserve the ancient knowledge which makes survival possible.

Rees is a Miner whose curiosity about his world makes him stow away on a flying tree - just one of the many strange local lifeforms - carrying trade between the Belt and the Raft. And what he finds will change his world....

©2020 Stephen Baxter (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

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Fantastical beginnings

I have never read any of the Xeelee books so when I saw this I snapped it up and I haven't regretted a second spent either riding whales and trees or exploring a rich universe this has it all!!

3 people found this helpful

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  • FN
  • 01-05-22

Excellent book

A demonstration of massive imagination yet always bound to a respect for physics, a really enjoyable read with an engaging and relatable protagonist.

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A great start point into hard science fiction

Perhaps it’s because I’m a sucker for anything to do with space and ramblings on physics. But I just enjoyed listening to this audio book, the narrator was good and kept me engaged with the story. Even though the setting doesn’t span a big area, it still sets up a curiosity for the rest of the Stephen Baxter universe while also delivering a great story. And if it can do that I would warrant the experience a success.

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Good, but not quite what i was expecting.

Stephen Baxter is new to me. But from what i've been hearing about his work he sounded totally up my street. I had briefly dipped into one of the later ''Xeelee'' books recently, but as soon as i realised that there was an order to them then i decided to start at the begining. In that respect, this was not the huge, multiverse sweeping epic that i was expecting. But now feels like it might be the first small step in a huge story. As such, this is much more to do with the almost day to day lives and realities of the people living in one unusual part of the multiverse. Though by the end of this book i was eager for the next instalment. But it looks like the next 5 or 6 books are not yet available here! So either i change format, or i skip ahead. But i now think that there are so many books in this series that i wonder if skipping half a dozen will ruin it or not?

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  • Pork Hunt
  • 28-07-20

All good until...

Interesting and engaging story until the space whale took it into fantasy land. Couldn't look it in the eye after that. Will not be pursuing the rest of the series.