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Publisher's Summary

Michael Poole finds himself in a very strange landscape.... 

This is the centre of the Galaxy. And in a history without war with the humans, the Xeelee have had time to built an immense structure here. The Xeelee Belt has a radius 10,000 times Earth's orbital distance. It is a light-year in circumference. If it was set in the solar system, it would be out in the Oort Cloud, among the comets - but circling the sun. If it was at rest, it would have a surface area equivalent to about 30 billion Earths. But it is not at rest: it rotates at near light speed. And because of relativistic effects, distances are compressed for inhabitants of the Belt and time drastically slowed.

The purpose of the Belt is to preserve a community of Xeelee into the very far future, when they will be able to tap dark energy, a universe-spanning antigravity field, for their own purposes. But with time the Belt has attracted populations of lesser species, here for the immense surface area, the unending energy flows. Poole, Miriam and their party, having followed the Ghosts, must explore the artefact and survive encounters with its strange inhabitants - before Poole, at last, finds the Xeelee who led the destruction of Earth....

©2018 Stephen Baxter (P)2018 Orion Publishing Group Limited

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Needed to pay closer attention...

I'm going to have to give this one a second listen. Or better yet get the printed version and actually read it. I have feeling that it will go to a 5-star review if I do. I gravitate toward books that I can listen to on my long commute. This one simply has too much going on to make it a good listen while trying to navigate through rush hour traffic.

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A Fitting Conclusion

This book is the epic conclusion not only to its direct predecessor (Xeelee Vengeance) but also to Baxter’s entire Xeelee cycle. Just as in Vengeance, this book is suffused with references and name drops to Baxter’s 20+ year body of work in his main sci fi series, paying off long-time readers while not being so obscure and winky that newcomers feel lost. I have been a fan of Baxter for most of that 20 year history and have been in awe of the universe he created and the scales he envisions. In this book, we finally see many of those massive scales up close and personal for the first time, as Baxter unleashes his imagination on what hitherto purely theoretical concepts would actually look like given a powerful enough uber-species to build them, such as the extreme time dilation at the orbit of a black hole. It’s Baxter in his element, using his deep understanding of math and physics to conjure scientifically-plausible what-if scenarios into functional being.

Michael Poole, longtime hero and protagonist of the Xeelee series, finally ends his arc in this book, with some of Baxter’s best character writing in years. Baxter has been criticized for not caring enough about his human characters and being more concerned with the concepts and processes he’s exploring, which is a somewhat fair criticism, at least in the past, but here he uses a cool piece of technology to give us a unique perspective on Poole, namely a digital clone (Virtual) of Poole himself, who is the same person, but…not. It works surprisingly well, as we get to see the real Poole and all his flaws through his own eyes, which are softened made wiser by that very perspective. Jophiel is one of Baxter’s most interesting protagonists. The other characters are fairly two-dimensional, but a few stand out, such as Nicola. Not incredibly deep, but often a good counterweight to the heavy hard science being bandied about.

The resolution of the book is satisfying, especially if you’re a longtime reader of this series. It brings both timelines together in a satisfying way, and gives us something Baxter’s work is often a bit light on: hope. And for old-time fans like myself, there is, at last, a big reveal of a question that has dominated the series since its beginning, and it’s suitably strange, unsettling, and interesting. This is an epic journey, one that spans time scales that make your head spin, that sees the culmination of all the concepts, themes, and lore of Baxter’s Xeelee-verse come together for the most climactic of climaxes. It’s easily my favorite piece of work in the Xeelee cycle, and my second favorite of his books (my favorite being the non-Xeelee cycle standalone “Evolution”). I doubt we’ll get any more mainline Xeelee stories outside of short fiction, but that’s okay, because Redemption brings a satisfying and appropriate ending to this mind-expanding hard sci fi epic.

The narration is great; there is some controversy over the narrator’s pronunciation of “Xeelee” (he pronounces it “CHEE-lee”) where I and many others have always pronounced it ZEE-lee, but this is a minor quibble and clearly an intentional decision. Not so sure about the Qax (which he pronounces “Chax” but which I have always pronounced "Kax") but whatever. His human inflections and characterizations are convincing and appropriate to the setting and scenes. I dig him.

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  • D. Marsh
  • 09-26-18

Good hard sci fi story telling

Maybe not to everyone's taste as most of the conversation is science based, with not the most in depth of characters. Some ideas from other writers in here but on a bigger scale. Unsure of the journey times in here travelling by truck as thing so large. Will look forward to the next installment.

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  • DENNIS
  • 09-12-18

EPIC UNIVERSE SPANNING SPACE OPERA

SHADES OF LARRY NIVEN'S RINGWORLD ON A VASTLY LARGER SCALE,TRAVEL TO THE CENTRE OF THE GALAXY AND SEE THE UNIVERSE AS YOU PROBABLY NEVER IMAGINED IT.WITH A CREW OF FASCINATING CHARACTERS.IF YOU LIKE SPACE OPERA YOU SHOULD LIKE THIS.