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I love speculative sci-fi for so many reasons. My I would highly recommend "Children of Time," and I would do so due to the human aspect of the story.

Not, because the human characters are likable, in fact they are a bit more annoying than anything else and I felt like it was a challenge at times to get through their chapters, even with that, or especially because of that, the book is a pleasure to read. And there is so much going on in the alternate chapters that the book feel very gratifying to read.

At least for me.

Speculative Science Fiction

Speculative and hard science fiction were part of my childhood, and they are still a part of my life to this day. But it isn't for everyone. Still, if you want to give it a try, I have some suggestions for some good hard science fiction.

One that has always appealed to me is "Teranesia" by Gren Egan since its release in 1999.

The thing that appeals to me is the setting and scope. It is set in a modern day and near future story set on Earth. The story focuses on a couple of scientists and their children, who move to a small island where they study a species of butterflies and their evolution.

Although it's hard science fiction, I should warn you that, when compared to other books by Egan, this one is pretty much character driven throughout.

Then there is Dougal Dixon. What can I say? I love Dougal Dixons work!

His books remind me of Olaf Stapledons novels. And if you know Stapledon you will see what I mean, specifically "Last and First Men" and "Star Maker", both of which were written in the 1930's; I'm sure they must have been an inspiration for Dixon.

Speaking of Stapledon, it may interest you to learn that if you live in a country with a lifetime 50 years copyright law his books are now in the public domain and you can get them from Gutenberg.

Vernor Vinge's "Marooned in Realtime" has some of this same sort of charm. Though I think that it takes you a bit to move into the story since it involves "bobbles" which let people jump years or millennia ahead in the future. The main characters are all far enough in the future that there are many different animals which have evolved throughout their journey. It's not a huge part of the story, granted, but it's quite evocative nonetheless.

The Time Ships

Baxter's "The Time Ships" is a mind-bending and very well written book. The book deals with different evolutionary paths of human beings in the far future.

It's an official "sequel" to H. G. Wells' "Time Machine," endorsed by the H. G. Wells foundation. I will say though that you don't have to know anything about Wells "Time Machine" to enjoy Baxter.

One thing that I love about Baxter's work is that he really enjoys exploring human specification; no matter which book you pick up you will find it, with most of the Xeeleeverse books going as far as they can to see how flexible the concept of "human" really is. They are fascinating and definitely worth exploring. His Coalescences are if nothing else neat, offering a sort of twitchy kind of fun.

He wrote another book some time ago which was simply titled: "Evolution." It was essentially a novelization of primate evolution on Earth, the book was a collection of short stories, each one from the perspective of various creatures, hominids, and posthumans.

While I love Baxter's work I will be the first to tell you that "Evolution" is not his best work. I think that the main complaint that I have with the book is that it feels a bit self-indulgent, at least when compared to his usual style - but it is still an interesting novel worth reading.

Which brings us to . . .

Other Titles

  • The Long Earth this is a collaboration between Baxter and Terry Pratchett
  • Children of the Comet Don't by Donald Moffitt
  • Five Thrillers by Robert Reed?
  • Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

The list is so long though that it is really hard to ever say that it is complete.