Stephen Baxter follows up his Arthur C. Clarke Award nominee Manifold: Time with the second book in the Manifold series, Manifold: Space. In this novel, former shuttle pilot and astronaut Reid Malenfant meets his destiny once again in a tale that stretches the bounds of both space and time.|
The year is 2020 and the Japanese have colonized the moon. The 60-year-old Malenfant is called there by a young scientist named Nemoto who has discovered something in the asteroid belt that can only mean humans are not alone in the universe. The aliens seem robotic in nature and appear to be building something in Earth's backyard. The Gaijin, as they are called by humans, don't respond to communication efforts so an unmanned ship is launched to investigate. In the meantime, Malenfant decides answers are only possible by mounting an expedition to Alpha Centauri, which may be where the Gaijin come from.
Baxter, who won the John W. Campbell Award and the Philip K. Dick Award for his novel The Time Ships, orchestrates a stunning array of scientific possibilities in Manifold: Space. Each chapter adds a new piece to his mosaic of humanity's future. The novel is admirable in its enormous scope, but it's hard to invest much emotion in the characters. Although they are well drawn, they vanish for long periods of time as Baxter leapfrogs through time and space. Manifold: Space, by its nature, lacks passion but excels in grand ideas.