Posted by: Kate | August 23, 2011

Author Review: Stephen Baxter

I’m going to let my science geek shine here, and let you know about my new favourite author. Stephen Baxter writes science fiction, at least that is the genre section where you’ll find his books in most libraries or book stores. But he doesn’t write Lord of the Rings or Star Wars science fiction (not that I don’t also love those two series). Baxter writes what I call science. fiction. To give you a clue about what I mean, he is a trained engineer with degrees in mathematics and aero-engineering research. He knows science. He is also a great story-teller and has won a number of awards for his books.

I’ve read three of his books to date (Evolution, Exultant, Flood) and have found myself immersed and in awe of each one. He writes both series and single novels, although his series books can also stand alone (Exultant is book 2 in a series, but I didn’t realize that until I was looking at his website). What intrigues me is Baxter’s ability to take every scientific theory and every wild idea from so many different streams of scientific study, and then tie them in to a story of great fiction. Each book has its own flavour and stands alone as a great story. But when you put them together into a body of work you realize how wide his grasp of science is, and how his mind can take even a radical idea and spin it into a story-line.

Each of the three books I’ve read deal with different times. They do all deal with humanity, so I would imagine this is a common theme through-out Baxter’s books. Each book has gripped me in the human story as well as expanded my mind and made me wrestle with the science. I’m sure someone with little science knowledge could read these books as pure science fiction and enjoy them for the great stories they tell. Add even a little scientific knowledge, and a reader’s mind can begin to boggle.

Baxter does have other series that are more traditional science fiction and not as heavy on the science. He likes to deal with alternate histories and timelines, so that the stories are familiar yet not quite. I like the style, where the story isn’t so beyond I can’t grasp it and yet is tantalizingly different.

These books won’t appeal to everyone. You have to be someone who enjoys science fiction with a fairly heavy dose of science. But if that sounds like you, then I recommend checking out Baxter’s books. I think you won’t be disappointed. I know I’m going to request more from my library.

“Far ahead, bathed in the light of the Galaxy’s centre, the nightfighters were rising.” – Exultant


Responses

  1. I used to love this type of cerebral book but after reading all day at work, prefer murder mysteries, or really just knitting (or even worse) playing Farmville. oh well, perhaps one day I’ll return to more serious reading.

  2. i’m definitely going to have to check him out!!


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