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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 Clark 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

Overview

Stephen Baxter’s Manifold novels have struck the world of science fiction like a meteor. Heralded by Arthur Clark 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
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.
KLIATT
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

“BAXTER IS A DEEP THINKER AND A VISIONARY WRITER.”
–DAVID BRIN

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345455475
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/19/2002
Series:
Manifold Series , #3
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
221,488
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Emma Stoney

Do you know me? Do you know where you are? Oh, Malenfant . . .

I know you. And you’re just what you always were, an incorrigible space cadet. That’s how we both finished up stranded here, isn’t it? I remember how I loved to hear you talk when we were kids. When everybody else was snuggling at the drive-in, you used to lec- ture me on how space is a high frontier, a sky to be mined, a resource for humanity.

But is that all there is? Is the sky really nothing more than an empty stage for mankind to strut and squabble?

And what if we blew ourselves up before we ever got to the stars? Would the universe just evolve on, a huge piece of clockwork slowly running down, utterly devoid of life and mind?

How—desolating. Surely it couldn’t be like that. All those suns and worlds spinning through the void, the grand complexity of creation unwinding all the way out of the Big Bang itself . . . You always said you just couldn’t believe that there was nobody out there looking back at you down here.

But if so, where is everybody?

This is the Fermi Paradox—right, Malenfant? If the aliens existed, they would be here. I heard you lecture on that so often I could recite it in my sleep.

But I agree with you. It’s powerful strange. I’m sure Fermi is telling us something very profound about the nature of the universe we live in. It is as if we are all embedded in a vast graph of possibilities, a graph with an axis marked time, for our own future destiny, and an axis marked space, for the possibilities of the universe.

Much of your life has been shaped by thinking about that cosmic graph. Your life and, as a consequence, mine.

Well, on every graph there is a unique point, the place where the axes cross. It’s called the origin. Which is where we’ve finished up, isn’t it, Malenfant? And now we know why we were alone . . . But, you know, one thing you never considered was the subtext. Alone or not alone—why do we care so much?

I always knew why. We care because we are lonely.

I understood that because I was lonely. I was lonely before you stranded me here, in this terrible place, this Red Moon. I lost you to the sky long ago. Now you found me here—but you’re leaving me again, aren’t you, Malenfant?

. . . Malenfant? Can you hear me? Do you know me? Do you know who you are?—Oh.

Watch the Earth, Malenfant. Watch the Earth . . .

Manekatopokanemahedo

This is how it is, how it was, how it came to be.

It began in the afterglow of the Big Bang, that brief age when stars still burned.

Humans arose on an Earth. Emma, perhaps it was your Earth. Soon they were alone.

Humans spread over their world. They spread in waves across the universe, sprawling and brawling and breeding and dying and evolving. There were wars, there was love, there was life and death. Minds flowed together in great rivers of consciousness, or shattered in sparkling droplets. There was immortality to be had, of a sort, a continuity of identity through copying and confluence across billions upon billions of years.

Everywhere humans found life: crude replicators, of carbon or silicon or metal, churning meaninglessly in the dark.

Nowhere did they find mind—save what they brought with them or created—no other against which human advancement could be tested.

They came to understand that they would forever be alone.

With time, the stars died like candles. But humans fed on bloated gravitational fat, and achieved a power undreamed of in earlier ages. It is impossible to understand what minds of that age were like, minds of times far downstream. They did not seek to acquire, to breed, or even to learn. They needed nothing. They had nothing in common with their ancestors of the afterglow.

Nothing but the will to survive. And even that was to be denied them by time.

The universe aged: indifferent, harsh, hostile and ultimately lethal.

There was despair and loneliness.

There was an age of war, an obliteration of trillion-year memories, a bonfire of identity. There was an age of suicide, as even the finest chose self-destruction against further purposeless time and struggle.

The great rivers of mind guttered and dried.

But some persisted: just a tributary, the stubborn, still unwilling to yield to the darkness, to accept the increasing confines of a universe growing inexorably old.

And, at last, they realized that something was wrong. It wasn’t supposed to have been like this.

Burning the last of the universe’s resources, the final downstreamers—lonely, dogged, all but insane—reached to the deepest past . . .

PART ONE Wheel

Reid Malenfant

“. . . Watch the Moon, Malenfant. Watch the Moon!”

So here was Reid Malenfant, his life down the toilet, chasing joky UFO reports around a desolate African sky. Emma’s voice snapped him to full alertness, for just about the first time, he admitted to himself, since takeoff.

“What about the Moon?”

“Just look at it!”

Malenfant twisted his head this way and that, the helmet making his skull heavy, seeking the Moon. He was in the T-38’s forward blister. Emma was in the bubble behind him, her head craned back. The jet trainer was little more than a brilliant shell around them, white as an angel’s wing, suspended in a powder-blue sky. Where was the Moon—the west? He couldn’t see a damn thing.

Frustrated, he threw the T-38 into a savage snap roll. A flat brown horizon twisted around the cockpit in less than a second.

“Jesus, Malenfant,” Emma groaned.

He pulled out into a shallow climb toward the west, so that the low morning sun was behind him.

. . . And then he saw it: a Moon, nearly full, baleful and big—too big, bigger than it had any right to be. Its colors were masked by the washed-out blue of the air of Earth, but still, it had colors, yes, not the Moon’s rightful palette of grays, but smatterings of a deep blue-black, a murky brown that even had tinges of green, for God’s sake—but it was predominantly red, a strong scorched red like the dead heart of Australia seen from the flight deck of a Shuttle orbiter . . .

It was a Moon, but not the Moon. A new Moon. A Red Moon.

He just stared, still pulling the T-38 through its climb. He sensed Emma, behind him, silent. What was there to say about this, the replacement of a Moon?

That was when he lost control.

Fire

The people walk across the grass.

The sky is blue. The grass is sparse, yellow. The ground is red under the grass. Fire’s toes are red with the dust. The people are slim black forms scattered on red-green.

They are called the Running-folk.

The people call to each other.

“Fire? Dig! Fire?”

“Dig, Dig, here! Loud, Loud?”

Loud’s voice, from far away. “Fire, Fire! Dig! Loud!”

The sun is high. There are only people on the grass. The cats sleep when the sun is high. The hyenas sleep. The Nutcracker men and the Elf men sleep in their trees. Everybody sleeps except the Running-folk. Fire knows this without thinking.

As his legs walk, Fire holds his hands clamped together. Smoke curls up from between his thumbs. There is moss inside his hands. The fire is in the moss. He blows on the moss. More smoke comes. The fire hurts his palms and fingers. But his hands are hard.

His legs walk easily. Walking is for legs. Fire is not there in his legs. Fire is in his hands and his eyes. He makes his hands tend the fire, while his legs walk.

Fire is carrying the fire. That is his name. That is what he does.

It is darker. The people are quiet.

Fire looks up. A fat cloud hangs over him. The sun is behind the cloud. The edge of the cloud glows golden. His nose can smell rain. His bare skin prickles, cold. Immersed in this new moment, he has forgotten he is hungry.

The clouds part. There is a blue light, low in the sky. Fire looks at the blue light. It is not the sun. The blue light is new.

Fire fears anything new.

The fire wriggles in his hands. He looks down, forgetting the blue light. There is no smoke. The moss has turned to ash. The fire is shrinking.

Fire crouches down. He shelters the moss under his belly. He feels its warmth on his bare skin. He hoots. “Fire, Fire! Fire, Fire!”

Stone is small-far. He turns. He shouts. He is angry. He begins to come back toward Fire.


From the Hardcover edition.

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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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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