Bewildering Stories

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Book Review:
Steven Baxter, Exultant

by Jerry Wright

Author: Steven Baxter
Publisher: Del Rey
Hardcover: 480 pages
ISBN: 0345457889
Price: $25.95
Exultant gets mixed reviews from a number of people, but I really enjoyed it, actually much more than some of the more popular of Baxter's titles.

Exultant is a sequel to Coalescent which I haven't read, but as I understand it, this book takes the concepts in the first book and runs them headlong into Baxter's Xeelee universe. Only in THIS book, the humans are the good guys fighting Star Wars type battles with the Xeelee 30000 years into our future.

I've read a number of Baxter's books, and found them interesting, but not enough to re-read. He is a writer with great sensawunda ideas, but somehow I didn't care that much. I found Exultant much more to my liking. I cared about the young pilot Pirius, and when he accomplishes the amazing feat of actually capturing a Xeelee fighter (by a sneaky method that outfoxed the 'time-travel' capabilities of the Xeelee) he ends up two years in his past, and by the codes of the stultified humanity, must be punished for doing something unexpected. But now there are two Piriuses. Pirius Blue (blue-shifted future Pirius) is sent to a penal colony to learn to be cannon fodder for the army, and Pirius Red, only seventeen and a total innocent (child-warrior and pilot-in-training) is spirited away to Earth to use the techniques of his future self and even pilot the Xeelee craft.

In this book, and the next book (Transcendent) Humans are no longer the bumbling badguy boobs of Baxter's other Xeelee books, and yet... Everything fits together.

If you would like to like the Baxter oeuvre, and yet something about them has irritated you in the past, try Exultant. I think you'll like it.

Copyright © 2005 Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories

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