Monday, March 26, 2018

Proxima (Proxima #1), by Stephen Baxter

Book cover Proxima is the first book in the Proxima duology, by Stephen Baxter. And it is barely about Proxima! The book starts with multiple viewpoints over several arcs, is split into tiny chapters and volumes, attempts to become something epic and eventually fizzles. It's not that it's a bad book, it's simply not very good.

You have alien technology found on Mars, two different expeditions to Proxima C - if you don't count the first misguided one, a habitable planet in the Proxima Centauri system, several people and their families over a span of several decades, Artificial Intelligences, a nebulous period in the history of mankind called "The Heroic Generation" which seems to have left people in fear of innovation and discovery, alien lifeforms, artificial lifeforms, parallel timelines, etc. And it's all mixed in. It feels like it should be more, like it was meant to be more, but it just comes out as jumbled and directionless. I think what bothered me most is that characters barely have time to change. In order to explain what happens with a zillion people Earth, Mars, Mercury and an alien planet in a single book, their personal development is sacrificed.

But overall the book was interesting. It covered some bits of Earth future history that most sci-fi works quickly get past. The downside is that it went over them really fast, too :) The actual exploration and life on Proxima was on fast forward, too, with a really hard to believe ecosystem for its simplicity. Oh, and that ending was horrid! I will not read any of the works in the series. I feel that Baxter is overambitious, but also very courageous. I usually have a lot of problems with his works, but still read some of them.