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    MANIFOLD TIME by Stephen Baxter

    Del Rey Ballantine Books, 2000

    Reid Malenfant is driven to put humanity into space--a dremam made more pressing by Cornelius Taine's prediction that the human race is on the verge of extinction. To Malenfant, space provides the resources for billions of years of human expansion, but only if we choose to get there. Taine wonders if even billions of years is enough.

    MANIFOLD TIMES is written at several levels. First, Malenfant's struggles with a governmental bureaucracy set up to hinder rather than promote space travel in a distopian near-future. Second, Malenfant's use of giant squids for exploration leads to unintended consequences--a competitive species takes the lead in space exploration. Third, genius children appear to threaten the human race with a successor population. Finally, Baxter asks what happens when the universe drifts to its final death. Is a single universe enough?

    Baxter's strength is his use of science and technology to build a convincing future. He is less strong when it comes to characters. If you are looking for intelligent analysis of the future, MANIFOLD TIME is an important find.

    Two Stars

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