Synopses & Reviews
Sir Arthur C. Clarke is a living legend, a writer whose name has been synonymous with science fiction for more than fifty years. An indomitable believer in human and scientific potential, Clarke is a genuine visionary. If Clarke has an heir among today’s science fiction writers, it is award-winning author Stephen Baxter. In each of his acclaimed novels, Baxter has demonstrated dazzling gifts of imagination and intellect, along with a rare ability to bring the most cerebral science dramatically to life. Now these two champions of humanism and scientific speculation have combined their talents in a novel sure to be one of the most talked-about of the year, a 2001 for the new millennium.
For eons, Earth has been under observation by the Firstborn, beings almost as old as the universe itself. The Firstborn are unknown to humankind— until they act. In an instant, Earth is carved up and reassembled like a huge jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly the planet and every living thing on it no longer exist in a single timeline. Instead, the world becomes a patchwork of eras, from prehistory to 2037, each with its own indigenous inhabitants.
Scattered across the planet are floating silver orbs impervious to all weapons and impossible to communicate with. Are these technologically advanced devices responsible for creating and sustaining the rifts in time? Are they cameras through which inscrutable alien eyes are watching? Or are they something stranger and more terrifying still?
The answer may lie in the ancient city of Babylon, where two groups of refugees from 2037—three cosmonauts returning to Earth from the International Space Station, and three United Nations peacekeepers on a mission in Afghanistan—have detected radio signals: the only such signals on the planet, apart from their own. The peacekeepers find allies in nineteenth-century British troops and in the armies of Alexander the Great. The astronauts, crash-landed in the steppes of Asia, join forces with the Mongol horde led by Genghis Khan. The two sides set out for Babylon, each determined to win the race for knowledge . . . and the power that lies within.
Yet the real power is beyond human control, perhaps even human understanding. As two great armies face off before the gates of Babylon, it watches, waiting. . . .
"[A]n exciting tale full of high-tech physics, military tactics and larger-than-life characters....Although not flawless, this is probably the best book to appear with Clarke's name on it in a decade." Publishers Weekly
"[H]as more in common with...a Star Trek episode than with the philosophical speculations of vintage Clarke or first-rate Baxter. Nevertheless, the adventure is rousing, and I can't imagine anyone finishing this book and not wondering what comes next." Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review
"Curiously sloppy, with biographical contradictions and a rationale that's inconsistently applied: despite the many echoes of 2001, more spectacle than substance." Kirkus Reviews
"Baxter's panoramic visions and Clark's lucid and precise storytelling combine to form a series opener that belongs in all sf collections. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"With Clarke and Baxter collaborating smoothly, this is a fine exploration of themes that Clarke has explored regularly since Childhood's End (1953), at least, and good news for those who enjoy both men's work." Roland Green, Booklist
The first of two connected novels in the Time Odyssey series by the master of science fiction and his hand-selected successor.
About the Author
Arthur C. Clarke is considered the greatest science fiction writer of all time and is an international treasure in many other ways, including the fact that an article by him in 1945 led to the invention of satellite technology. Books by Clarke—both fiction and nonfiction—have sold more than one hundred million copies in print worldwide. He lives in Sri Lanka.
Stephen Baxter is a trained engineer with degrees from Cambridge and Southampton Universities. Baxter is the acclaimed author of the Manifold novels and Evolution. He is the winner of the British Science Fiction Award, the Locus Award, the John W. Campbell Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award, as well as being a nominee for an Arthur C. Clarke Award.