Ultima by Stephen Baxter

A book review
I began this book with significant enthusiasm. After reading Proxima I was eager to know what would happen to our pioneers of the universes and how they would survive yet another reality, specially at their age. Enter, the Roman age, a world where the Roman empire never fell and the continents as well as the far stretches of the solar system were dominated by 3 major empires. Our survivors soon integrate to society and a child of different realities is born.

Going on to this child, I really disliked her even though she was just the way she was. Selfish and stubborn, she matures slowly but surely. However it didn't stop me from wanting to slap her a couple of times. When Chu entered the stage I knew he had an important role to play. This role however, was overshadowed by the constant family drama of Mardina's and Yuri's descendants. The few lines he got at the end made me wish we could have gotten some intimate conversations between him and another character like Stef. I believe I would have grown to like his character.

“In the heart of a hundred billion worlds— Across a trillion dying realities in a lethal multiverse— In the chthonic silence— There was satisfaction. The network of mind continued to push out in space, from the older stars, the burned-out worlds, to the young, out across the Galaxy. Pushed deep in time too, twisting the fate of countless trillions of lives.” 
The world just got weirder and more extreme. The quest to find the Dreamers and to catch up to Earthshine only picked up at the end of the book. (At some point the book calls him "Earthlight" which I am pretty sure was part of a first draft and slipped away on editing, but I will forgive that.) Earthshine became more important here. A perfect "villain" if you want a title, though not exactly. For a machine, quite sentimental, for sentimental, quite crude and logical. So it was a constant push and pull with him until the very end.

I was very satisfied with the end, which I will not discuss here as it involves more than you expect. But plots things from Proxima get explained, loose ends are tied up. I truly recommend this book for Space Operas' fans. Though my child-like wonder was not there as with the first book, and at some point in my notes I ramp about how I do not feel connected to any of the characters, this is still a very fun read.

Once I slowed down my reading phase again, through the battles and the survivals, I began to experience the reason once more of why I enjoyed the first book. You can't speed read this, it needs to be processed as it deals with black holes, galaxies, wormholes and the manipulation of the fabric of space and time by highly intelligent creatures classified as 'bugs'. A highly imaginative novel with plenty to make you think.

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