A very bad book, but it did keep me reading all the way to the end. As to why, later.The construction of Coalescent is a sloppy mess. Essentially there are two narrative streams told in alternate chapters. One is set in the present day (c.2000) and one begins in fourth-century Britain soon after Constantine left it to go purple-hunting in Rome, taking most of the Roman garrison with him and leaving the island wide open to plunder by the Saxons.This 'Roman' stream is told in the third person. Mos [...]
Let's be upfront about it: Coalescent is not a book for everyone. It alienates Baxter fans who are used to distant-future high-concept space opera, and it alienates casual fans who might pick this up as a historical novel. Essentially, it pleases neither crowd. So, is it worth reading? Absolutely, but you better be patient.The story starts at the Fall of the Roman Empire, and follows a young British Roman woman named Regina as her world falls apart around her. The majority of the novel focuses o [...]
I really enjoyed book one of the Destiny's Children series. The format of alternating between present day and 300 A.C.E. Rome was an interesting way bring all the events of the story together. It also made me question our human perception of time as a thing to be experienced as linear. By alternating each chapter between the present and ancient times events, I was able to think of the events in time as if they were happening concurrently as opposed to hundreds of years apart. I'm not sure if thi [...]
Once again I have been drawn into a series of stories where the first part has left me uncertain as to whether I really want more. Science Fiction at its best challenges our view of people; history, the future, technology, religion, power, politics, culture, etc. This is a fairly good story with some interesting ideas about evolution and genetics. It spans across time from the days of "Arthur" to today and hints of the future. The genetic mutation (people mimicking hiving insects as a survival m [...]
First of all, the back cover info is a trifle misleading, which is a shame because the real story is just as good and absorbing as the cover hype. The book weaves together three narratives: George Poole's first person mystery as he searches for his lost sister; the historical fiction 5th Century exploits of one of his ancestors Regina, who lives through the fall of the Roman Empire in Britain, moves to Rome, and founds the Order; and the modern SF story of Lucia, one of the members of the Order. [...]
The back cover text led me to believe that this was a very different flavor of book than it turned out to be. Almost the entirety of that supposed teaser applies not to the entire book, but to the end of the book. That’s right–instead of providing the premise, they provide the climax (and some of that description is actually incorrect). Also, the text presents an impression of a book that is heavily sci-fi and suspenseful, which simply isn’t the case. The majority of the book is a combinat [...]
I always find I enjoy Stephen Baxter's books more than most people seem to. This one is very different from his other work but I loved it all the same. Usually Baxter has a decent concept which he then builds a story around. This one is slightly different in that the story sets up the concept, rather than the other way around. The main story focuses on Regina, a young girl living in Britain as the Roman Empire begins to crumble. We see the story of her whole life as her life of luxury soon turns [...]
I can see the objections raised by other readers, but I really liked this one and will read the sequel as my second but next novel. Recommended for anyone who likes historic novels taking place in the final years of the Roman empire and/or different ways societies can be organized.
There is a big spoiler ahead. It's not fully revealed until late in the book, but it is also revealed on the dust jacket, and so maybe it isn't such a big spoiler after all.This is an engaging novel with interesting ideas, but they come across pretty heavy-handed in the last few chapters, where a long litany of reasons the Coalescents really, truly are a hive are presented as boring conversations between George and Peter.One of the things I like best about Baxter's writing is when he takes some [...]
This book contained interesting ideas I could appreciate, but Baxter is too often limited by his engineering background. He often comes across as a stereotypical engineer, and his characters don't quite seem fully fleshed out, acting more as schematics to aid his design. His understanding of evolution also irritated me a bit at points, as he ignored the costs of adaptations and limits of evolution in a few points, but I recognize this is a biologist niggling over how an engineer views a biologic [...]
Not what I expected at all from the synopsis. It was very slow paced, yet the questions and mysteries that Stephen Baxter had embedded within the pages kept me turning. The end of the book left me teetering on an awkward fence between completely disappointed, and severely shocked. The underlying message that Stephen Baxter was communicating was worth the read. However, it is definitely not a book that I put any re-read value into.
I really liked the idea here of divergent human evolution. The idea of a "coalescence" is an enduring contribution to science fiction.I also have to say that I loved the historical segment about the fall of Rome. It really seemed to me to get it right: how things slowly fell apart, and never got right again. As Eliot said, "not with a bang, but a whimper."Really 3.5 stars. See also my review of Transcendent by the same author.
this book began slowly, seriously slowly! It took me three tries until i got hooked. The ideas were intriguing but the delivery felt clumsy and sort of awkward. The historical ventures into the disintegration of Roman/British society were actually quite enjoyable. But I ended up dreading the increasingly inevitable scene of eusociety projected into the future. And when it finally came (ch 49) it just seemed ridiculous. I didn't have high expectations of this book. Just a bit of post-thesis escap [...]
I was a little disappointed with this one. There were three main "issues" for me (without giving too much away) - The main character set in the present isn't a character I ever grew to care about. He's a bit of a bumbler and really just serves to present a pair of eyes to show us portions of the story - Most of the book feels like exposition. It's a 4 book series, so I'm willing to give the next book a chance (who am I kidding, I'll still probably read all 4 regardless Baxter is an excellent au [...]
Wait, this is part of the Xeelee Sequence? How?Not only are we constricted to Earth, we are on medieval (and modern) Earth and even underground for most of the times.A human hive has lived underground for centuries, deviated some from the main human line and is now ready to take over the Earth! For Pete's sake, what's this got to do with the war in space? Supposedly in one of the sequels we're going to be needing this bit of background information but this novel could easily have been a novella. [...]
An intelligent and well-written book. Two at first seemingly unconnected storylines develope into a double helix with a nice twist at the end (don't want give anything away).This first book of the series seems to be the runway toward the 'regular' science fiction in the following novels in the series. I enjoyed this first novel so much that I started the second one, Exultant.
There are many criticisms of this book’s awkward structure, and they are valid. But it’s also a set-up for a number of streams across time, trying to capture the essence of divergent evolution. I enjoyed the series and its messages. The characters don’t necessarily resonate but sometime you just want a reasonable read. This does it.
I enjoyed this book, particularly the historical aspect of ancient Britain just after the fall of Rome. The later historical episodes were perhaps less enthralling, but the book overall was a good read.
This is not just one book, but loosely connected, two and a bit – a historical novel, a biological thriller and a science fiction short story – under one cover.The historical novel is about a girl growing up in Britain in the 5th century A.D while the Roman rule disintegrates. Now, I am not a fan of historical novels – when I’ve tried to read them a couple of times before, I’ve been disappointed by how modern the characters’ thinking was. And if I want to know about history, I’d ra [...]
I'm surprised a lot of people don't like this book.A few things about the coalescent society(subspecies?) I found pretty hard to believe. (view spoiler)[(Three month pregnacies? Developing a new organ in less than two thousand years?) (hide spoiler)] but the story was great. I love the idea of eusocial humans and I love how the Xeelee Sequence goes all over time.I think Stephen Baxter and Alestair Reynolds are the two greatest sci-fi authors of the current day.
Now, joined by his boyhood friend Peter McLachlan, who arrives in Rome with a dark secret of his own, George uncovers evidence suggesting that the women of the Order have embarked on a divergent evolutionary path. But they are not just a new kind of human. They are a better kind, genetically superior, equipped with all the tools necessary to render homo sapiens as extinct as the Neanderthals. And, chillingly, George and Peter soon have reason to fear that this colony is preparing to leave its ov [...]
I have tried to like Stephen Baxter's novels. His books always have a good premise. But his character development turns me off. I don't like his main characters. They are abrasive and obnoxious. Maybe they are too realistic. But I read fiction to get away from realism. If I want realism I'll read the news.If you enjoy Stephen Baxter's novels I envy you. I wish I could.
Many years ago, I remember Mark Plummer declaring that Stephen Baxter would be a good author to collect. What Mark clearly had not taken into account was the need for a very large room to hold such a collection. It’s not just that Baxter is prolific – 39 novels and 9 collections in 22 years – but also that most of his books are also huge. Coalescent – the first in a trilogy, natch, called Destiny’s Children – is one of these huge novels: the Gollancz hardback is 473 pages long. There [...]
At first this book seems like it might be connected to Baxter's 2006 novel "Emperor," despite the fact that this work predates it by a couple years. And it does, indeed, share Roman Britannia as one of its settings, as well as touching on the conflicts between Roman paganism and the early centuries of the Christian church. But that's where the similarities end. Instead, Baxter invites us to consider the possibility that a large enough human population, if sufficiently isolated, could evolve rapi [...]