Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vacuum Diagrams

Vacuum Diagrams is a 1997 book in the XeeLee Sequence by Stephen Baxter. More like linked short stories than a novel, this would be a great introduction to this universe. It's a well-respected series of books, and this particular one won the Philip K. Dick Award. I would enjoy this more, I know, if I had a clearer understanding of the science. But I don't, sadly, making some of it hard to picture in my mind. I enjoyed it anyway. Sometimes you just have to treat science beyond your understanding as magic and let your imagination do the best it can.

Some people don't care for science fiction because of the alien environment; but I find science fiction settings not really any more alien than an aboriginal village in Australia, or a community of tidal houseboats, or a light house, or the Arctic, or the ancient Middle East, or a tropical island un-touched by modern discovery, or any other environment foreign to my experience. The stories are human stories, dealing with human issues, and I wish people wouldn't judge before they make a fair trial of the genre. For some reason, people see a space ship on the cover and freak out. That said, this book wouldn't be a good one for someone new to the genre.

from the back of the book:

"And everywhere the Humans went, they found life..."

This dazzling future history, winner of the 2000 Philip K. Dick
Award, is the most ambitious and exciting since Asimov's
classic Foundation saga. It tells the story of humankind -all
the way to the end of the universe itself.

Here, in luminous and vivid narratives spanning five
million years, are the first Poole wormholes spanning the
solar system, the conquest of Human planets by Squeem,
GUTships that outrace light, the back-time invasion of the
Qax, the mystery and legacy of the Xeelee, and their artifacts
as large as small galaxies; photino birds and Dark Matter;
and the Ring, where Ghost, Human, and Xeelee contemplate
the awesome end of Time.

Stephen Baxter is the most acclaimed and accomplished
of a brilliant new generation of authors who are expanding
the vision of science fiction and taking it
to a new golden age.
SF Site has a positive review. Ansible calls it a "fine, if uneven, collection" and says it "contains something to amaze everybody."


  1. This is a pass for me. You made me think when you said the sci/fi genre is not all that different than another country or another era. I'm just more comfortable elsewhere. That said, I do like the "In Death" series by Robb. I'm learning to cope with an imaginary future.


    1. I've got the first one of that series in my Amazon cart thanks to you. I think cross-genre books are interesting, and the concept of this series really appeals to me.