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Stephen Baxter is a prolific British hard fiction author. He was born on November 13, 1957 in Liverpool, England and lives in Northumberland. Before he became an author he studied mathematics at Cambridge University, obtained a doctorate in engineering at Southampton University and an MBA from Henley Management College. Stephen Baxter is also a chartered engineer and fellow of the British interplanetary Society. He taught physics, maths and information technology before he became a full- time author in 1995.He was strongly influenced by Science Fiction pioneer H.G. Wells. He is President of the British Science Fiction Association and a Vice-president of the international H.G. Wells Society.
Stephen Baxter’s first professionally published work appeared in 1987 in the form of a short story, his first novel came in 1995. He has since 1987 published over forty books, mainly science fiction novels and over 100 short stories.
Stephen Baxter’s work has been published in the US, the UK and many other countries including Japan, France and Germany. He has won many awards including the Philip K Dick Award, the British Science Fiction Award, the John W Campbell Memorial Award, the Kurd Lasswitz Award in Germany, the Seiun Award in Japan. He has been nominated for many awards such as the Arthur C Clarke Award, Locus Award and the Hugo Award. Several of his short stories have also won awards.
Stephen Baxter’s Novel Voyage was dramatised for the BBC Radio and was broadcast in 1999. His TV and movie projects includes the script for Episode 3 of space Island One which was broadcast on Sky One in January of 1998 and the development work on the BBC’S Invasion: Earth, which was broadcast in 1998. The science of the Avatar movie was a blockbuster.
Stephen Baxter’s Future History was based on research into hard science. It includes the monumental Xeelee Sequence, 4 novellas and 46 short stories, all of which form a single timeline stretching from the BIG Bang singularity of the past to Stephen Baxter’s Timelike Infinity singularity of the future.
The Raft is both Stephen Baxter’s the first novel and the first novel in the Xeelee Sequence. In 1992, the Raft was nominated for the Arthur C Clark Award. The Raft relates the story of a group of humans who have accidentally entered an alternate universe where the gravitational force is many times stronger than our own. In this universe, planets don’t exist as they would quickly collapse under their own gravity. The stars are only a mile wide and have very short life spans. Here human bodies have a gravity field in and of themselves. The few humans there exists in divided and highly stratified communities and survive in a nebula of breathable air. The social elites live on the “Raft” which is the remains of the starship that has almost all the high technology, and the workers live on “Belt” worlds where they burn star kernel. The “Boneys” a nomadic group of unmentionable live on worlds made out of corpses.
How exactly humans came to be in this universe is unknown, and hints in the story point to the possibility of the Raft ship having come through a rift in our universe into the alternate reality. The alternate universe these humans live in adheres to the same laws as our universe except that its gravitational force is ordered of magnitude greater than in our own universe. The physics of this alternate universe slowly turns the nebula into an increasing hostile environment and the bizarre native species and the humans suffer the effects of the environmental collapse.
Timelike Infinity published in 1992 is the second novel in the Xeelee Sequence. This novel creates a universe of powerful alien beings and technologies and maintains a realistic angle because of Stephen Baxter’s scientific background. It is set in the year 5407 AD, and mankind has been overpowered by the Qax. These are an alien turbulent fluid form of life and they now rule the star systems of human space. The Qax adopt system and processes from man’s history to completely oppress the humans. Previously, the human had come into contact with a few other alien races, including the very advanced Xeelee and had been overpowered once before by the squeem and every time the humans had successfully recovered. A man -made craft, the interface device, returns to the solar system 1500 years later. The craft, towed by the space vessel Cauchy, returns a wormhole gate, seeming to allow time travel because of the difference between the outlets of the wormhole, with one outlet being in the solar system and the other travelling at almost the speed of light for 100 years. The invaders, the Qax, had destroyed the wormhole gate, but the lashed up human ship enters through the returning gate. It travels back to the undefeated humanity, 1500 years before. A crew member of the space vessel Cauchy comes back with the friends, Miriam Berg. They have a complex plan, from the Winger experiment; they postulated an extraordinary theorem on the final destiny of life in the universe. The friends are of the view that quantum wave functions don’t collapse as held by the Copenhagen interpretation, but rather that the universe is a participatory universe. That is the universe exists as a single huge quantum superstructure and that at the end of time, when intelligent life will have collected all information and transformed into the Complete or Ultimate observer who will then make the last observation. This observation will collapse all the entangled wave functions generated since the creation of the universe. The friends further hold that the ultimate observer will also decide which world line will be the real world line and that the observer will select the one in which humanity endures no Qax or squeem conquests or occupations. The Ultimate observer will only choose between world lines if relevant information is available at its age to distinguish world lines. If the Ultimate observer does not know humanity, it cannot decide on a world line favourable to it. So a way must be found to safely and surely send information into the future. The friends plan to turn Jupiter into an expertly formed singularity and use the detailed parameters as a mode of encoding information. With the threat of the future of the Qax, Miriam Berg is worried over the immediate fate of the human race and transmits an SOS to Michael Poole, the gate designer. The Qax, panic over the escape and choose to build their interface, with human help from collaborators lead Jasoft Parz, and create a link with the future to gain assistance in settling the problem. This is done in just one and half years. An amazing high technology future spaceship, with the future Qax, passes through the gate, executes the Qax earth governor and seize Parz before exiting via the original gate after all humanity and the friends. The Qax decide to eliminate space faring capabilities of humans and completely destroy humans. The Qax are economic traders and want to first extract as much value out of their human pilots as possible. They send a pilot named Jim Bolder in a modified Xeelee night fighter to the Great Attractor, which is the cause of most galactic drift to investigate how and why it exists. Jim Bolder travels to the base of the gravitational well and discovers the Ring. It is a torus made of unknown material and is a thousand light years in diameter, and rotating at the a greater fraction of the speed of light. The Qax postulate that the torus created a Kerr metric effect and was actually an escape route for the Xeelee. Jim Bolder miraculously survives the dangerous mission and on return to the Qax home system is captured by the Qax spline warships. Bolder manages to escape and in the fight that follows the Qax star-breakers accidently fire at the primary star of the Qax system making it to-go nova. The Qax hurriedly evacuate but many of them die and their trading empire collapses.
In the past, Michael Poole joins Miriam Berg on their vessel just before the Qax arrive, having come in his spaceship, Hermit Crab. He is with his virtual father, Harry. They avoid the control of the friends whose mission fails because of bombardment by Spline’s star breaker beam. Commandeering the cannon used to sculpt Jupiter, they fire into the Spline and assisted by Jasoft Parz’s betrayal, Michael Poole rams his ship into the Spline warship and kills the sapience. Harry takes over given his superior intelligence and at Michael Poole’s direction steer the spaceship into the wormhole. Once inside the wormhole Poole activates the hyperdrive and shutters its delicate dimensional warping and that of the wormholes connecting to it and in so doing saves mankind from future alien interference.
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