Stephen Baxter. Reality Dust. PS Publishing, 2003.

The PS Publishing volumes are broadly similar in size to the typical Asimovs/Analog/F&SF in terms of two dimensions, the third is slightly different as it measures only 70-odd pages. This impacts on the fourth dimension, as with a story as good as this the time taken to get through the pages is minimal!

Cost-wise the titles somewhat more than your average SF magazine, but hey, the books are autographed and are a limited print run.

This story picks up some generations after his ‘Cadre Siblings’ story published in Interzone in March 2000 ([reviewed here]). I did have a complaint that the previous story was a bit rushed, and the longer space herein enables Baxter to weave an intriguing story.

Two threads are intertwined. In one a woman is pitched into a strange dusty landscape, her memory erased. As she struggles to get to grips with her destiny, the other story, starts on an Earth gradually recovering from being liberated from the tyranny of the Qax. One of the ‘jasofts’ – the despised collaborators, journeys with two whom are seeking to rebuild humanity, to Callisto.

There the nature of the other story is revealed, as quantum theory is used to enable other jasofts to flee into a reality which is sufficiently fundamental to the universe to bring the Xeelee to the moon.

Stirring stuff, with the ending, in which the two humans stand there helpless, almost reaching the peaks of Arthur C Clarke (one to whom Baxter is often compared).

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