What is the multiverse 1

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Messages from the future, journeys to a future billions of years away: “Zeit” (orig .: “Manifold: Time”) is a science fiction novel full of effective ideas, which the author did not pull out of his fingers. His afterword attests to his well-founded scientific sources. That doesn't have to mean that these ideas are new to science fiction, but rather that Baxter is exploiting them in new ways.

Baxter has made himself a worthy successor to Arthur C. Clarke (a co-author) and Isaac Asimov over the past few years. With novels like "Ring" (from the Xeelee cycle) and "Titan" he opened up the huge dimensions that characterize the universe to the science fiction audience.

In “Manifold: Time” he opens up the temporal dimensions into which his compatriot Olaf Stapledon first ventured into in the 1930s (“The Star Creator”, “The Last and First People”): Billions of years in the future, at the end of the Universe. In “Raum” (orig .: “Manifold: Space”), the follow-up novel, he tries to do the same for the dimension of space. The | Multiversum | trilogy ended with "Ursprung" (orig .: "Manifold: Origin").

In 2010 the prospects for the earth and human survival as a species are even grimmer than they are today. The ex-NASA employee and entrepreneur Reid Malenfant and his spiritual mentor Cornelius Taine see that the exploration and use of space beyond the moon has been blocked by NASA for 40 years and the global economy is working towards the exploitation of the earth in a closed cycle only one way out, namely breaking out of the clutches of NASA by a daring enterprise: the launch of a private spaceship.

Shortly before the bureaucrats put on the march by the government agency NASA can prevent this project, Malenfant succeeds in starting the | Big Dumb Booster |, a cheap shuttle. The | Nautilus | has no crew other than a genetically intelligent conscious octopus. This squid named Sheena 5 is, so to speak, the pilot of the | Nautilus | and as it turns out later, she took away a little secret: She is pregnant ...

The aim of the space program, for which Malenfant was able to win a number of investors, was originally to capture an asteroid whose ore deposits were to be exploited. But at the last minute, Malenfant and Taine changed their destination. The reasons for this are very surprising. The two received a message transmitted by neutrino: "1986 - 3753". As it turns out, these are the astronomical data for a single possible candidate: Only the eccentric asteroid Cruithne (pronounced: kruuth’ni) comes into question, and its orbit identifies it as the second moon on earth.

But who sent the message from the future? Taine calls them the | Downstreamer |, according to their position in the downward flow of time, in the future. When the | Nautilus | When Cruithne arrives, Sheena 5 will initiate all proper procedures to exploit Cruithne's material deposits. She also uses them secretly to ensure the survival of their offspring, at least the four squids, which turn out to be as intelligent as themselves. The children of Sheena 6 to 9 share this intelligence, but they too see their survival threatened because the resources are insufficient. And so they explore Cruithne's other side. Here you come across an artifact: a blue ring, a gate to another time, the time of the | downstreamer |.

Malenfant, his ex-wife and manager Emma and Taine are off their socks. You can follow what is happening on the asteroid through independent mini robots. The blue ring is the symbol worn by the above-average intelligent children who have recently popped up all over the world. One of these children, Michael, visited Emma himself in Zambia: he intuitively solved the most difficult physical and mathematical problems. Obviously there is a connection between | downstreamers | (the Cruithne message), the Cruithne artifact, and the blues, as the young geniuses are called. Do the down streamers want to save us before we exterminate ourselves, as a certain Carter calculated? He predicts the collapse of the world economy for the next 150 to 240 years.

Of course, all of these revelations, which the eager Malenfant passes on to the media, have an explosive effect on the networked world population: suicides, self-proclaimed avengers and doomsday sects, church denials and the obligatory blocking of NASA are the order of the day. Emma has her hands full to ensure the survival of Malenfant's company.

But the next time he starts to the asteroid, Malenfant not only takes Taine with him, but also the young genius Michael and - Emma. Followed by congressional orders, revenge attacks and of course NASA henchmen, Malenfant can just take off before his company and that of Taine are shut down. And what he didn't tell Emma, ​​who was completely surprised, is the secret of why he was flown out of NASA ...

With the help of ideas from quantum physics that still seem exotic today, Baxter tries to create a kind of | sense of wonder | to create. He succeeds in doing this very well in places. The prerequisite is of course that the reader can keep up mentally. So this is more of a book for aerospace engineers ...

But before the reader threatens to take off completely, Baxter repeatedly inserts snippets of text from the “real” world of 2010, for example from Internet articles (with simulated hyperlinks) or from interviews. He copied this cinematic technique from John Brunner's great novel “Morgenwelt” (“Stand On Zanzibar”, 1969). Fortunately, he doesn't dare to mess up the chronological order of the narrated events, as mainstream authors like Douglas Coupland like to do. So the reader has solid ground under his feet in terms of style.

As for the likelihood of the scenario described, while there is a high probability that the collapse of the human empires will occur in the next 200 years, the methods by which this could be prevented are of course Baxter's invention: private enterprise exploration and exploitation of the asteroids for example, helpful or warning messages from the future, | uplifting | of intelligent species, etc.

The only | downstreamer | out there will be ourselves. And the stream we swim down in is both time and the deteriorating state of our blue planet. Baxter's character Taine claims that the earth is the only place in the universe where intelligent life evolved after the Big Bang. Now we have no more excuses: If we have driven our mothership Earth against the wall, there will be no aliens that we can blame. The aliens are ourselves.

Paperback: 688 pages
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Heyne Stephen Baxter