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World Engines

Destroyer
Series: World Engines, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 21 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (131 ratings)

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Summary

In the year 2570, a sleeper will wake.... 

In the mid-21st century, the Kernel, a strange object on a 500-year-orbit, is detected coming from high above the plane of the solar system. Could it be an alien artefact? 

In the middle of climate-change crises, there is no mood for space-exploration stunts - but Reid Malenfant, elderly, once a shuttle pilot and frustrated would-be asteroid miner, decides to go take a look anyway. Nothing more is heard of him. But his ex-wife, Emma Stoney, sets up a trust fund to search for him the next time the Kernel returns.... 

By 2570 Earth is transformed. A mere billion people are supported by advanced technology on a world that is almost indistinguishable from the natural, with recovered forests, oceans, ice caps. It is not an age for expansion; there are only small science bases beyond the Earth. But this is a world you would want to live in: a Star Trek without the stars.  

After 500 years the Kernel returns, and a descendant of Stoney, who Malenfant will call Emma II, mounts a mission to see what became of Malenfant. She finds him still alive, cryo-preserved.... 

His culture-shock encounter with a conservative future is entertaining.... 

But the Kernel itself turns out to be attached to a kind of wormhole, through which Malenfant and Emma II, exploring further, plummet back in time, across five billion years.... 

©2019 Stephen Baxter (P)2019 Orion Publishing Group

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Baxter continues to deliver the goods.

If you're familiar with Baxter, then you probably have an idea of what to expect. Relatively simple plot and characters, with a bigger focus on ideas and themes. Many of typical Baxter tropes show up, or are at least discussed: Future societies, realistic space travel, alternative universe, AI and so on. The story itself is a satisfying romp around the solar system, examining these themes on the way. Both narrators are excellent, some of the accents are slightly dodgy, but certainly still entertaining. I'm not sure why there are two narrators though, they alternate seemingly at random for different chapters, despite us following the same characters for the entire book. Both narrate well though, so this didn't unduly bother me. Strongly recommended to Baxter fans. Newcomers should be aware that this is the sort of book with long technical discussions and exposition dumps.

6 people found this helpful

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Great book

As a whole, I loved this book. However, there was a bit in the middle what made me feel like it was too similar to one of Stephen Baxter's previous books. But, in the end, the storey diverged and the plot took a different path. Persevere through it and you will be rewarded by an excellent first part of the storey. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Sci-fi doing what it does best

Stephen Baxter paints an epic picture covering millennia from a sort of alternative world history to the origins of the solar system, and projects a range of possible futures for human kind. It makes you think about current global issues while keeping things in perspective speculating on huge universal issues. I was not so impressed with the 'joke Brits'; a mixture of elements from H. G. Wells to Red Dwarf, world war two daring-do to Kipling's explorers and empire builders. These characters have an important role to play in the plot, and were far from convincing. I thought that the ending to the book was rushed, and had no real conclusion. This may be because there is a follow-up book in the offing: if so, I will have to consider carefully whether I want to listen to it or not. I did enjoy the book: it was thought provoking and entertaining, doing what sci-fi does best.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Tails off a bit

Decent premise, good story but tails off toward the end without really satisfying the reader.

2 people found this helpful

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Great concepts, clumsy execution

This is a typical Stephen Baxter book with rather two dimensional characters and an almost reportage view point. The narrators are good British actors but change for odd reasons and when they do they use differ accents. The concept of the story stretches from the beginning of the solar system, on a planetary scale and everywhere there are hints of greater mysteries. However in the end it is the two main characters Malenfrant and Greggson Deirdra that are to irritating, glib and just dull to make this an enjoyable read. Not sure u can tolerate these characters to read the next in the series.

2 people found this helpful

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Penelope is wonderful and magnificent

Oh my gosh this is boring and dull, it needs to be an hour long max story. The narrator Penelope is amazing, she is the only reason I have listened till the end. Her expressions, dialogues, and accents are perfect. I am disappointed with the hype about the book: the story is linear, filled with insignificant details and not at all engaging. The storyline is predictable, and there is not a single original idea which would not be explored by hard sci-fi writers 50 years ago. You could not care less about the protagonist and his story and the book is filled with cheap 'relationship dramas' that do not have any decisive outcomes and do not serve any purpose rather than being there for no reason at all. It looks like in his twisted way the author thinks he is new Isaak Asimov, Stanislav Lem, or Arthur Clark which he is definitely not. And this makes me specifically sad about the book, as he could not bring a single bit of creativity, or at least new light, to already established hard sci-fi concepts, but rather used them, eclectically sculpturing the Frankenstein's monster out of well beloved concepts of the past, which were revolutionary at the time, but in this book seem like a copycat attempt to monetize the forgotten humanity's values about space exploration. Please, before reading this book, make yourself familiar with classics of the 20th century sci-fi and do not be fulled by the glitter of modernisation of the classical sagas. After all, a few of you would remember modern day gangsta 'Romeo and Juliette' film, which at least stated the Shakespeare in the titles. To reiterate, the narrators here are EXCEPTIONALLY good, I would listen to anything narrated by them even if it was a bill of materials for a building project.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Irritating main character but stick with it!

I felt my interest flagging in this book over the first couple of chapters as the main character is an somewhat irritating self-important boomer who wants to impose his world view on everyone he meets. On top of this there are several instances of a character recounting of their very long life story which feels unrealistic and clumsy. Having said that - stick with it. The book opens up in the latter half and ends up being a fantastic story with a rich and detailed universe containing a goldmine of clever and well thought out ideas.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating book.

As a resident of Birmingham U.K. Walsall is not a suburb of Birmingham, in fact historically it's a part of Staffordshire 8 miles north-west of Birmingham.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Oh dear!

There was a time I really rated Stephen Baxter. The Time Ships and Titan novels I thoroughly enjoyed. But this was just so tedious, so much so that I didn’t really care what happened, I just wanted to get to the end. I had no empathy with the characters. I know Mr Baxter is British, but why does he insist upon bringing in these stereotype ww2 RAF characters.I am afraid the narrator didn’t do it for me neither. Although her normal voice was fine, the various accents she was obliged to do were way over the top, especially the clipped British accent, which was truly annoying.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good but balance of science & narrative is off.

sometimes heavy on explanation of science at expense of narrative. (Even if explanation is part of dialogue).