Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Book Review: Stephen Baxter's Ring

I finally finished reading this story over the past weekend. It has been very difficult going to try and stick with this book. I've had it on the go since April or May this year, it got put aside several times while I've read other stories by Clive Cussler and JK Rowling - which is not a good sign.

It's the second attempt I've made at reading it. The first time I failed too, in fact I found my old book mark during the reading process that was still stuffed in the book when I put it back on the shelf while I was still back in Kent.

The story is the end of Baxter's Xeelee Sequence of stories and follows the story of the Northern. A ship designed to last 1,000 years to bring a wormhole technology link back to the past. The ship uses relativity throughout it's 1,000 year voyage and during those 1,000 years on board ship where the community of humans is either genetically manipulated or enhanced by nano-technology to live to great ages with varying degrees of success.

When the Northern completes it's journey and drops back into normal space-time the solar system and the sun have changed beyond recognition due the the effects of mysterious creatures living within the sun and the effects of the Xeelee-human war.

All in all, I was disappointed by this Novel. There was interesting titbits of superscience in the traditional Hard SF sense in this story, like the Neutron Star system travelling at near lightspeed, and the cosmic string properties of the ring itself, but it felt that the five million year old journey (and reading through the book over these past months has certainly felt like that) was not really worth the effort. Fortunately in reading the afterword, the interesting parts to the story, like the Neutron Star tale are actually expanded on in other of Baxter's works in the Xeelee sequence in a book called "Flux" which I think I may have sitting on my "To Be Read" shelf.

This was the Hard SF Book of the Month for May and I gave it 7 out of 10 in the online poll.