The second of Baxter's Destiny's Children series moves the story into the distant future and a grim vision of inter-galactic war.
Twenty-five thousand years in the future mankind is still locked in its twenty thousand year long war for survival with the Xeelee. Billions die every day and mankind's best soldiers are children, bred to fight and die. The war has gone well but has now stalled at the galaxy's core, the Xeelee stronghold.
And as we fight what we cannot believe will be the final battle the consequences of a war fought in the first few nano-seconds after the big bang are coming to fruition.
It inspired me, and opened my eyes to some wonderful possibilities... that's the short version, but though it gives the core feeling, it really doesn't do the book much justice... so here's my enthusiastic rant in detail...
First of all, I was expecting a relatively smooth transition from the end of the first book in the series but this was not to be the case. In fact, other than the common, and quite essential, theme of Humanity's involvement and evolution, the only common element turned out to be the past-tense commentary on the Kuiper Anomaly hinted at with much sinister undertones. Though this was a niggle to me (I hate loose ends in a story) it didn't really detract from an otherwise mind-bendingly impressive storyline.
Focusing on Pirius (and Pirius, his time-travelling twin), the story takes the reader from the warren-like Barracks Balls of Arches Base, a cluster of asteroidal rocks tucked in close to the center of our galaxy's Central Mass, back out to the end of the orion arm to little ol' Earth as it has become after over 20,000 years of warfare against the ultimately-alien Xeelee, and even a different universe known as Configuration Space.
We are also introduced to the semi-religion, semi-philosophy of The Friends of Wigner, a hybrid lifestyle/mindset which blends some very interesting concepts of Quantum Physics, Buddhist Philosophy, and sheer nihilistic apathy into a gestalt whole that basically states that at the end of time, all world-lines will collapse into one True Reality when observed by The Ultimate Observer, so if you encounter something nasty in your life, let it slide, because at the end of time, this will become part of all the 'failed' worldlines... but you still have to make the best of life, because even though it will be discarded, this worldline will still contribute something towards thee final result. I just love that... it appeals to the science geek in me, while still holding out some hope for a better 'end result' somewhere down the track.
This book could easily be a stand-alone story, as it's references back to the first book don't really require much detailed knowledge. This is moree 'part two in a sequence' rather than 'the continuation of the story'.. which I think is wonderful, in that it doesn't suffer from 'rampant sequelitis' and if you found the historical retrospective of the first book a bit hard to wade through, you can still pick up this book and possibly find it to be a pleasurable read. They really are very chalk-&-cheese in nature, as this book hardly touches down on Earth for long... most of the time it is at least 90 lightminutes away from little old Terra, and up to a few million lightyears out.
Overall, this is quite probably the most impactful book I have read in the last year, from one of the authors who I have always liked, but am rapidly gaining much respect for. I can't recall a single book that has really reached down into me like this one has.. it really has opened my mind to some fascinating ideas... Of particular interest to me, and any other Cosmologist-wannabe, is the possible and all-too-plausible reasons why the universe has had such a mysterious evolution. There are anomolies in the creation that human science is hard-pressed to explain without including the effects of intelligence... and it doesn't include a deity-figure either, which I admire. I am now into Book Three of the series and I can't wait to see what tales this one will reveal...
Random listing from 'Books'...
In this new companion to his award-winning Which New Zealand Insect? Andrew Crowe showcases New Zealand spiders, with practical details on how, when and where to find them.
The author continues in his typically entertaining style to weave in many odd and surprising facts - such as how best to eat big spiders, ... more...
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