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Random House Publishing Group, Nov 29, 2005 - Fiction - 496 pages
7 Reviews
Stephen Baxter’s gripping page-turners are feats of bold speculation and big ideas that, for all their time-and-space-spanning grandeur, remain firmly rooted in scientific fact and cutting-edge theory. Now Baxter is back with the final volume in his monumental Destiny’s Children trilogy, a tour de force in which parallel stories unfold–and then meet as humanity stands poised on the brink of divine providence . . . or extinction.


It is the year 2047, and nuclear engineer Michael Poole is still in the throes of grief. His beloved wife, Morag, died seventeen years ago, along with their second child. Yet Michael is haunted by more than just the memory of Morag. On a beach in Miami, he sees his dead wife. But she vanishes as suddenly as she appears, leaving no clue as to her mysterious purpose.

Alia was born on a starship, fifteen thousand light years from Earth, five hundred thousand years after the death of Michael Poole. Yet she knows him intimately. In this distant future, when humanity has diversified as a species and spread across the galaxy, every person is entrusted with the duty of Witnessing the life of one man, woman, or child from the past, recovered by means of a technology able to traverse time itself. Alia’s subject is Michael Poole.

When his surviving, estranged son is injured, Michael tries to reconnect with him–and to stave off a looming catastrophe. Vast reservoirs of toxic gases lie buried beneath the poles, trapped in crystals of ice. Now that ice is melting. Once it goes, the poisons released will threaten all life on Earth. A bold solution is within reach, if only Michael can convince a doubting world. Yet as Morag’s ghostly visitations continue, Michael begins to doubt his own sanity.

In the future, Alia is chosen to become a Transcendent, an undying member of the group mind that is shepherding humanity toward an evolutionary apotheosis. The Witnessings are an integral part of their design, for only by redeeming the pain of every human who has lived and died can true Transcendence be achieved. Yet Alia discovers a dark side to the Transcendents’ plans, a vein of madness that may lead to an unthinkable renunciation.

Somehow, Michael Poole holds the fate of the future in his hands. Now, to save that future, Alia must undertake a desperate journey into the past. . . .

From the Hardcover edition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - davros63au - LibraryThing

Life, the universe and everything - it has it all, from environmentalism to religion. I enjoyed book 1 in the Destiny's Children, book 2 left me a bit indifferent, however this episode has inspired me again. On several occasion I found myself drifting off as I pondered issues raised by Baxter. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Sra.minshall - LibraryThing

I agree with some of the readers who suggest reading Transcendent (book 3 in the trilogy of four ...) first. Thought you could read the second one last. Actually the order doesn't really matter. There ... Read full review

Selected pages


Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 43
Chapter 44

Chapter 13
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
TWO Chapter 24
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 46
THREE Chapter 47
Chapter 49
Chapter 51
Chapter 53
Chapter 54
Chapter 55
Chapter 56
Chapter 58
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About the author (2005)

Stephen Baxter is a trained engineer with degrees from Cambridge (mathematics) and Southampton (doctorate in aeroengineering research) universities. Baxter is the winner of both the British Science Fiction Award and the Locus Award, and has been a nominee for an Arthur C. Clarke Award, most recently for Manifold: Time. He has also won the John W. Campbell Award and the Philip K. Dick Award for his novel The Time Ships. He is the coauthor (with Arthur C. Clarke) of Time’s Eye and Sunstorm.

From the Hardcover edition.

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