Coalescent Book

Novel by Stephen Baxter; the first in the three-book series 'Destiny's Children'. It is a 2003-4 OUSFG Award Candidate (and indeed first of the OUSFG Award Winners).

Synopsis: Coalescent is told in two strands. One is set in Roman Britain, as the Empire starts to fall. Regina ,the daughter of a wealthy family, starts searching for a way to protect her family. In the present day, George Poole, a descendent of Regina, discovers he has a long-lost sister, and begins a search for her. Both strands of the story lead to Rome; there, George finds the other descendents of Regina, but finds them ... changed.

This book was shortlisted for the 2003 Arthur C Clarke Award.

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As hard sf as anything Baxter's written, but biological hard sf rather than physics hard sf. Possibly not coincidentally, it's more human, with better characterisation, than many of his other works. That said, I thought the Regina strand was notably weaker than the Poole strand; but the scenes in present Rome, when the two start to mesh, are strange and wonderful and slightly creepy. One of Baxter's better books. -- NH.

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