Transcendent (Destiny's Children, 3.)
by Stephen Baxter
Review by Paul Haggerty
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0345457919
Date: 29 November, 2005 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The near present is shown from the point of view of Michael Poole, an engineer who believes that if we can just hold on a little while longer, technology will solve any problem. Of course hanging on is the tough part in the world of 2047 where global warming is causing the polar carbon hydrates to destabilize. If this happens the climate of Earth would be changed so catastrophically that any return to our present climate would be impossible. Somehow Poole is going to have to come up with a way to save the day, or humanity will be as doomed as the dinosaurs.
In the far future, Alia, a citizen of a wandering starship, is picked up as a candidate for the Transcendence, a group that is seeking to pass beyond the physical and become one gestalt consciousness. In order to join this god-like entity Alia is taken on a tour of the galaxy in an attempt to understand certain universal concepts. The first and easiest part of this understanding is given to all citizens of the Commonwealth in the form of Witnessing. Each person is given a viewing tank, in which the entire life of someone from the past can be viewed from birth until death. It is considered a social duty to be performed, and most people look at it as nothing more that a duty. But Alia has always taken it more seriously, and the Transcendence has a specific need for people like her. Because this super-human collective has plans involving the past that deal with far more than with just watching it happen.
As with almost all of Baxter's books, this one is a long rambling exploration of the galaxy at sometime in the long history he's mapped out. But unlike some authors who diverge for long expositions of the great background they've come up with, Baxter weaves the history and structure into the plot so that you hardly notice you're getting a science lecture along with your story.