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Manifold: Origin (Manifold Series #3)

Manifold: Origin (Manifold Series #3)

3.7 81
by Stephen Baxter

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Stephen Baxter's Manifold novels have struck the world of science fiction like a meteor. Heralded by Arthur Clarke as “a major new talent,” Baxter stands time and space on their collective heads, envisions the future reflected in the past, and the past in the galaxy's most distant reaches and unformed speculations. Claiming the legacy of Heinlein and Asimov,


Stephen Baxter's Manifold novels have struck the world of science fiction like a meteor. Heralded by Arthur Clarke as “a major new talent,” Baxter stands time and space on their collective heads, envisions the future reflected in the past, and the past in the galaxy's most distant reaches and unformed speculations. Claiming the legacy of Heinlein and Asimov, Baxter now returns with his third Manifold novel–in which he uses an astounding adventure story to posit a breathtaking vision of the origin of species . . . on earth and beyond.

In the year 2015 a red moon appears in the Earth's orbit: brooding, multitextured, beautiful, and alive. Catastrophe follows. While coastlands flood by the new gravitational forces, millions of people die. Scientists scramble desperately to understand what is on the big red moon and how it got there. And NASA astronaut Reid Malenfant, and his wife Emma, are hurtling through the African sky in a training jet, when everything changes forever.

For Malenfant and Emma, a reckless flight in a T-38 above the sun-baked continent sends them colliding with a great wheel in the sky. Now Emma has awakened in a strange, Earthlike world, among physically powerful, primitive creatures who share humankind's features and desires but lack the human mind. And Reid Malenfant is back in Texas, reliving the plane crash, looking up at the red moon, and knowing in his heart that Emma is there.

Emma is there, beginning a journey of survival that is both horrific and fascinating, utterly familiar and totally beyond comprehension. Malenfant, teamed with a Japanese scientist named Nemoto, will get his chance to rescue his wife. But neither can foresee the extraordinary adventures that await them. Neither can imagine the small and immense evolutionary secrets cloaked in the atmosphere of the red moon, or guess at how a vast, living, tightly woven cosmos has shaped our planet as we know it–and how it will shape it again.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Manifold: Origin is the third and concluding volume of Stephen Baxter's wildly popular Manifold trilogy, a sequence of novels comparable to classics like Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series in both scope and pure ambition.

The first book in the trilogy, Manifold: Time, began the story of entrepreneur Reid Malenfant, a man obsessed with exploring space and colonizing the stars. While his bootstrap company launches a squid-piloted spacecraft to mine a nearby asteroid, the Earth's population falls into chaos with news of civilization's imminent end. With time running out for humanity, Malenfant discovers technology that can unveil the future by detecting coded quantum waves traveling back through time. By understanding human "downstreamers," Malenfant tries to figure out how early-21st-century humankind can survive extinction.

In Manifold: Space, Baxter showed us an alternate Reid Malenfant. At 60 years old, he and quirky Japanese researcher Nemoto discover the existence of alien intelligence in the solar system. It seems self-replicating machinelike beings have entered the solar system in strange flower ships and are mining the asteroid belt. After entrepreneur Frank Paulis sends an unmanned spaceship to check out the aliens, who are called Gaijin, and the ship is captured and dismantled, Malenfant sets out to make first contact. En route to the asteroid belt in a salvaged spacecraft, Malenfant finds a large circle of blue metal floating in space. It's some type of gateway. But Malenfant doesn't know what's on the other side. His dream of contacting the Gaijin propels him on and he floats through the circle…

In Manifold: Origins, the mysterious blue metal disc appears again, this time high above Africa. In this episode, Reid Malenfant is an aging astronaut on a public relations tour of Africa. Having just found out that he has been scratched from an upcoming shuttle mission because of a medical technicality (it was really his abrasive personality and bad attitude), Malenfant quits the tour and heads back home with his wife Emma in a borrowed jet. But when he hears there has been a UFO sighting nearby, he has to check it out. Two things happen simultaneously: a huge blue disc appears in the sky, and our familiar gray moon is suddenly replaced with a much larger red one.

Strange objects -- it turns out they're primitive hominids -- tumble out of the disc and fall to the Earth, where they are instantly killed. Wild turbulence fills the air around the disc; Malenfant loses control of the plane and is forced to eject. He lands safely, but his wife Emma is pulled through the disc and disappears. Convinced the strange object is a portal to the red moon, Malenfant vows to somehow rescue his wife. After all, it's his fault she is there in the first place. With the help of Nemoto, a young Japanese astronaut, he raises enough money for the dangerous journey.

Once on the much larger moon, Malenfant and Nemoto discover a primitive world filled with a diversity of semi-intelligent hominids: tall nomadic Runners, savage-talking chimps (called Elf folk), humanoids with tails, English speaking Neanderthals, even godlike apes.

As Malenfant and Nemoto slowly unravel the mystery of the red moon, the origins of mankind and the Fermi Paradox (if aliens existed, they would be here), Emma is desperately trying to survive among a group of savage cavemen who can't remember yesterday.

Malenfant's incredible journey through time and space not only entertains but also enlightens, raising profound questions about humanity's ultimate place in the universe. Manifold: Origin is a wonderful, thought-provoking story -- a great novel in an even better series. (Paul Goat Allen)

Don D'Ammassa
As always, Baxter plays with space and time with consummate skill, giving us two separate but related plots and a large cast of interesting characters. He continues to be one of the leading writers of hard science fiction.
Science Fiction Chronicle
Publishers Weekly
This third and final book in Baxter's ambitious trilogy, whose vast scale calls to mind Asimov's Foundation series, shares the same strengths and weaknesses as the two previous volumes, Manifold: Space and Manifold: Time. More anthropology than hard SF, the novel follows the disjointed adventures of series hero Reid Malenfant's wife, Emma Stoney, on the hostile surface of an alien red moon that mysteriously replaces Earth's moon. Using multiple viewpoints (sometimes within the same paragraph), the author details the primitive thinking of at least five hominid races (higher humans included) that inhabit the red moon and of a super-race that's been manipulating human evolution. Once Emma sorts out the evolutionary differences, she favors the Runners (Australopithecines) and Hams (Neandertals) over the higher humans, who have foisted their crude fundamentalist religious beliefs on the other races. A variety of characters speculate on the simpler aspects of Darwinian theory, but somewhat disappointingly they all reach the same conclusion. Gratuitous violence from time to time offers relief from the challenge of keeping straight the host of loosely related story lines. Baxter fans should be well satisfied, but those who prefer more thought-provoking SF will need to look elsewhere. (Feb. 1) FYI: The second book of the trilogy, Manifold: Time, was nominated for an Arthur C. Clarke Award. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
When Earth cannot sustain its population, what's the alternative? Reid Malenfant thinks the future lies in resource-rich asteroids. Bypassing government regulations, the controversial billionaire builds and launches an exploratory spacecraft, navigated by a genetically enhanced cephalopod (squid) named Sheena. In the meantime, several other individuals deal with Earth's problems and Reid's actions: doomsday extremists, government officials, and a strange group of genetically different children. Matters really come to a head when Sheena spawns children on the asteroid, and the offspring surpass their mother's intelligence and nearly consume the asteroid. The prodigy children are imprisoned because society is afraid of their abilities; in turn, the children revolt and escape to the Moon. Again, Reid decides to take the situation into his own control, and convinces his ex-wife to accompany him to the asteroid—and later to the moon. In the process, they find that time itself is more elastic than ever imagined, and destiny can't be controlled any more than individuals. So, okay, the reader has to do some major suspension of belief, and some minor characters lack depth. Still, the author plants enough ideas and action to sustain the reader's attention. Nominated for the 2000 Arthur C. Clarke Award, this SF story would make a good movie. Recommended for older readers. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Ballantine/Del Rey, 474p, 18cm, 00-108754, $6.99. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Dr. Lesley S. J. Farmer; Lib. Media/Teacher Svcs., Cal. State University, Long Beach, CA, March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
Library Journal
Former astronaut Reid Malenfant travels to the moon, now a colony of Japan, to meet with a woman who presents him with evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence and offers him the chance of a lifetime--to explore the origins of life in the universe. Revisiting themes and characters from Manifold: Time (LJ 12/99), Baxter embarks on an ambitious tale that spans the stars. He balances the individual stories of his human protagonists against the panoramic scale of his setting in a landmark work of cosmic speculation that belongs in most libraries. Highly recommended. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“A FUN AND FASCINATING READ . . . Armed with degrees in both mathematics and aeroengineering research, Baxter has the scientific and intellectual clout to present a compelling premise of evolution.”
–The Flint Journal


Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Manifold Series , #3
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
6.43(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.52(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 25

"We have been to the stars, and have returned. Rubaga might look primitive, but it is deceptive. We are living on the back of a thousand years' progress in science and technology. Plus what we bought from the Gaijin, and others. It is invisible-embedded in the fabric of the worldbut it's here. For instance, many diseases have been eradicated. And, thanks to genetic engineering, aging has been slowed down greatly."

"What about the Uprights?"


"What life span can they expect?"

De Bonneville looked irritated. "Thirty or forty years, I suppose. What does it matter? I'm talking about Homo Sapiens, Malenfant."

Despite de Bonneville's claims about progress, Malenfant soon noticed that mixed in with the clean and healthy and long-lived citizens there were a handful who looked a lot worse off. These unclean were dressed reasonably well. But each of them-man, woman, or child-was afflicted by diseases and deformities. Malenfant counted symptoms: swollen lips, open sores, heads of men and women like billiard balls to which mere clumps of hair still clung. Many were mottled with blackness about the face and hands. Some of them had skin that appeared to be flaking away in handfuls, and there were others with swollen arms, legs and necks, so that their skin was stretched to a smooth glassiness.

All in all, the same symptoms as Pierre de Bonneville.

De Bonneville grimaced at his fellow sufferers. "The Breath of Kimera," he hissed. "A terrible thing, Malenfant." But he would say no more than that.

When these unfortunates moved through the crowds the other Waganda melted away from them, as if determined not even to glance at the unclean ones.

They reached the cane fence that surrounded the village at the top of the hill. They passed through a gate and into the central compound.

Malenfant was led to the house that had been allotted to him. It stood in the center of a plantain garden and was shaped like a marquee, with a portico projecting over the doorway. It had two apartments. Close by there were three domelike huts for servants, and railed spaces for-he was told-his bullocks and goats.

Useful, he thought.

The prospect from up here was imperial. A landscape of early summer green, drenched in sunshine, fell away in waves. There was a fresh breeze coming off the huge inland sea. Here and there isolated coneshaped hills thrust up from the flat landscape, like giant tables above a green carpet. Dark sinuous lines traced the winding courses of deep treefilled ravines separated by undulating pastures. In broader depressions Malenfant could see cultivated gardens and grain fields. Up toward the horizon all these details melted into the blues of the distance.

It was picture-postcard pretty, as if Europeans had never come here. But he wondered what this countryside had seen, how much blood and tears had had to soak into the earth before the scars of colonialism had been healed.

Not that the land wasn't developed pretty intensely: notably, with a network of irrigation channels and canals, clearly visible from up here. The engineering was impressive, in its way. Malenfant wondered how the Kabaka and his predecessors had managed it. The population wasn't so great, it seemed to him, that it could spare huge numbers of laborers from the fields for all these earthworks.

Maybe they used Uprights, whatever they were.

Anyhow, he thought sourly, so much for the pastoral idyll. It looked as if Homo Sap was on the move again-building, breeding, lording it over his fellows and the creatures around him, just like always.

In this unmanaged biosphere, immersed in air that was too dense and too hot and too humid, Malenfant had trouble sleeping; and when he did sleep, he woke to fuzzy senses and a sore head.

There was no way to get coffee, decaffeinated or otherwise.

The next afternoon Malenfant was invited to the palace.

The katekiro-Nemoto-came to escort him, evidently under orders. "Come with me," she said bluntly. It was the first time she'd spoken directly to Malenfant.

"Nemoto, I know it's you. And you know me, don't you?"

"The Kabaka is waiting."

"How did you get here? How long have you been here? Are there any other travelers here?"

Nemoto wouldn't reply.

They approached the tall inner fence around the palace itself. He wasn't the only visitor today, and a procession drew up. The ordinary Waganda weren't permitted beyond this point, but they crowded around the gates anyhow, gossiping and preening.

There was a rumbling roll of a kettle drum, and the gate was drawn aside; they proceeded-chiefs, soldiers, peasants, and interstellar travelersinto a complex of courtyards.

There was a wide avenue inside the fence, and at the fence's four corners those spectacular fountains thrust up into the air, rising fifteen meters or more. The water emerged from crude clay piping that snaked into the ground beneath the palace. Maybe there were pumps buried in the hillside.

Malenfant approached the nearest fountain. He reached out to touch the water. Christ, it was hot, so hot it almost scalded his fingers. Nemoto pulled his arm back. Her hand on his was leathery and warm.

The drums sounded again. They passed through courtyard after courtyard, until finally they stood in front of the palace itself.

It was only a grass hut. But it was tall and spacious, full of light and air. Malenfant, who had once visited the White House, had been in worse government buildings.

The heart of the palace was a reception room. This was a narrow hall some twenty meters long, the ceiling of which was supported by two rows of pillars. The aisles were filled with dignitaries and officers. At each pillar stood one of the Kabaka's guards, wearing a long red mantle, white trousers, black blouse, and a white turban ornamented with monkey skin. All were armed with spears. But there was no throne there, nor Mtesa himself. Instead there was only what Malenfant took to be a well, a rectangular pit in the floor.

Malenfant, Nemoto, and the rest had to sit in rows before the open pit.

Drums clattered, and puffs of steam came venting up from the well mouth, followed by a grinding, mechanical noise. A platform rose up out of the well, smoothly enough. Once again, Malenfant wondered where the energy for these stunts came from. The platform carried a throne-a seat like an office chair-on which sat the lean figure of Mtesa himself. Mtesa's head was clean-shaven and covered with a fez; his features were smooth, polished and without a wrinkle, and he might have been any age between twenty-five and thirty-five. His big, lustrous eyes gave him a strange beauty, and Malenfant wondered if there was Upright blood in there. Mtesa was sweating, his robes a little rumpled, but was grinning hugely...

Meet the Author

Stephen Baxter is a trained engineer with degrees from Cambridge (mathematics) and Southampton Universities (doctorate in aeroengineering research). Baxter is the winner of both the British Science Fiction Award and the Locus Award, as well as being a nominee for an Arthur C. Clarke Award, most recently for Manifold: Time. His novel Voyage won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History Novel of the Year; he also won the John W. Campbell Award and the Philip K. Dick Award for his novel The Time Ships.

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Manifold 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
TroyAsher More than 1 year ago
Space is one of my favorite science fiction novels and led me to explore the other books in Baxter's Manifold series. The books are individual stories and they can be read in any order though i feel Space has the edge over the others. While Time is an equally epic story, i found the enormous distances covered in Space easier to comprehend than the vast eons outlined in Time. Baxter's characters, both human and robotic, are engaging. His story telling is compelling. On top of this Baxter has the ability to describe the complexities of science in a way that makes it both comprehensible and fascinating. 5 stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story is one of the most vivid books I have read this year. It takes sci-fi to a whole new level, with Baxter's great imagination and writing skills.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The end of the world, or, merely, the end of life as we know it, has been one of man's greatest fears. Author Stephen Baxter's MANIFOLD: TIME does not exploit nor hide behind such dire threats. Rather, Baxter uses this most human concern as a catalyst for his action-based novel, demonstrating that man's survival instinct is so great that it bears the potential to transcend time. Told in the near-distant future and centering around a diverse group of characters (the rogue space hero; the independent, yet dutiful ex-wife; the politician with a conscience; the seemingly mad mathematician; the genius child; and the brain-enhanced squid), MANIFOLD: TIME is a story spanning so many levels, you'll be thinking about it long after you've turned the last page!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the beginning, this book was a bit confusing, but grew on me as I read on. After I read it the second time, things were much clearer to me. It is a very imaginative approach to answering the questions, "Are we alone in our Universe? How can it be that we have not seen signs of other intelligent beings beyond earth?" Stephen Baxter's treatment of this subject is on the dark side, but extremely well done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stephen Baxter's intriguing book provides a new view to predicting Earth's end. His style of writing, although a bit slow at times, allows the characters to develop to bring the story to its irreversible end, and what an ending it is. I am impressed by Baxter's creativity. For an author with such an extensive technical background he goes beyond that call to incorporate simplicity to the scientific material and to explore the depth and interaction of his characters leading to earth's outcome without being humdrum! A most enjoyable book, well written and would recommend it to all sci-fi buffs who really want food for thought. Ceridwen 'C.J.' Johnson Toronto, Canada
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was boring, then interesting, then boring, and so on to the point i gave up on it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not worth reading waste of time and money
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am an lover of what feels like a dying art...well written and thought-out hard science fiction. I loved this book!!
BellasMomma More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the other Manifold books immensely. Origin was good, but not the best. I enjoyed the other two better, but this is worth a read.
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