Phase Space (2002)

Twenty-five stories that take place in some of the realities of the Manifold (the eponymous Phase Space of our universe). Some explore different outcomes of the events described in Time, Space and Origin, others explore completely different realities of the Manifold. Some stories explore different explanations of Fermi’s Paradox, the driving force of the whole Manifold series. Many stories sport Baxter’s pet themes: space travel, the fate of mankind, our place in the universe.

Reading this I experienced the same effect like I did when reading other collections by Baxter in the past. Many of his stories, read alone in anthologies, feel like well written stories that still never reach true brilliance. But read together in such a hefty volume, they somehow reach critical mass and make the collection feel more than just the sum of it’s parts, a brilliant, mind expanding meditation on our role in the universe, of why some people care whether we are all alone in the universe or not, what the ultimate destiny of our race and intelligence and mind in the universe is. The appeal of this book does hinge on whether you actually care about these questions. But if you do, it’s quite the treat.