My final blog post of 2022 focusses on some recent reading matter. This is a two novel mini-series and both books are utterly compulsive reading.
The action begins on an Earth 500 years in the future which is facing imminent destruction by a rogue planet. Most of the population of this Earth ignore their approaching doom, but there is one among them, 17 year old Greggson Deirdra, refuses to accept her fate. She causes Reid Malenfant, placed in deep freeze after an accident centuries previously, to be reawakened. It turns out that this version of Earth is actually a different one from the one on which Malenfant’s accident happened. Shiva, the approaching destroyer planet is not the only new object in this iteration of the solar system – there is also a new ‘super earth’ called Persephone, in the Kuiper belt. Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons turns out to be a portal between various iterations of the solar system. This first volume ends with Malenfant, versions of Nicola Mott and Emma Stoney, both important people in Malenfant’s life and Deirdra as passengers on a spaceship commanded by Geoff Lighthill, in whose own iteration of the solar system the British empire remains the dominant world power, in a different iteration of the solar system in which Persephone is now much closer to the sun, though further out than Earth by some way. Mars has no moons in this version of the solar system but Venus has two. The crew other than Lighthill are preparing to land on Persephone II.
The second volume of the series starts with a crash landing on PersephoneII and a meeting with a Russian crew from yet another alternate reality. Nicola Mott and Emma Stoney die during the landing, but Malenfant, Deirdra, Josh Morris (a subordinate of Lighthill’s) and Bartholomew, an android whose job is to look after Deirdra, all survive. Eventually between them they figure out a way to escape PersephoneII – and Lighthill completes the rescue. While the others were on Persephone Lighthill was making discoveries about this iteration of the solar system. Persephone itself is home to a massive variety of living things, while Earth has been kept as preserve of the archaea, and there is a moon of Saturn (a ringless planet in this iteration) that is far warmer than it should be. Lighthill’s ship finds its way through a portal into yet another iteration of the solar system. In this version Persephone is in Mars’ orbital position and Mars has become a moon of Persephone and is known as Demeter, while there is a mysterious second moon of Persephone named Zeus. This solar system has an advanced Earth, and there is a colony on ‘Demeter’, which is being run by a version of Nicola Mott. While most of those on Lighthill’s ship prepare to land on ‘Demeter’ and a to take a trip to PersephoneIII, a landing craft is improvised to send Deirdra and Bartholomew down to ‘Zeus’. It soon becomes clear that ‘Zeus’ is an entirely artificial creation, and Bartholomew plunges right into the heart of this creation. This leads to an encounter with a being known as “Michael”, speaking to them from a very, very distant future referred to as ‘the far downstream’. Deirdra decides to journey on to the ‘far downstream’ and to help these future beings avoid some of the worst things they did. The books being principally Deirdra’s story they end at this point.
My usual sign off…
2 thoughts on “Stephen Baxter’s ‘World Engines’ Novels”
Happy new year Thomas
Happy & Healthy New Year Thomas! ⌚🔢🕛🎊