Friday, November 23, 2007

Space by Stephen Baxter

Most people have been troubled by the Fermi Paradox, even if not consciously. The Fermi Paradox is basically this – if there are aliens, they would be here. They aren’t here therefore there are no aliens. Yet in a galaxy so large, there must be aliens, so where are they?

For decades now we have had the ability to detect highly advanced civilizations anywhere in the visible universe. But we have seen nothing. Even allowing for the horrendous distances involve din space, it shouldn’t take more than 100 million years to colonize a galaxy. Galaxies are billions of years old. We see no signs of engineering on a cosmic scale though, not in this galaxy or any other.

But do we even know how to look?

This is where the novel Space picks up. With one researcher picking up anomalous heat signatures in the asteroid belt, the paradox has an answer. They exist, and they are here. But why? And why now?

Why should aliens appear just when we ourselves have the technological potential to become space faring ourselves?

Baxter’s character race to resolve this paradox, aware that time may be running out for humanity. Instead they discover the terrible truth, that time is running out for everyone.

Perceptions, and the ability to perceive are the dominant theme of this novel. Baxter elegantly takes known attributes of the solar system and says what if…?

Science books get a bad rap. I don’t even want to call Space one. It’s a science novel. It takes a scientific principle and teases it out. In this book you will find one possible solution to Fermi’s riddle. You’ll also find a great story.

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