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Xeelee: An Omnibus: Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux, Ring

Xeelee: An Omnibus: Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux, Ring - Stephen Baxter Xeelee is an omnibus book containing:

Raft
Timelike Infinity
Flux
Ring

The above four titles are linked to my review of each individual volume. The titles are ordered in the book by publication dates but I find that reading the books in this order did not work for me as Timelike Infinity and Ring are closely linked while Raft and Flux read more like standalones. Also, the settings of Raft and Flux are so weird that it may be easier to get used to Baxter's style and the Xeelee's back story through Timelike Infinity and Ring first. YMMV though. My recommended reading order for this omnibus would be:

1. Timelike Infinity
2. Ring
3. Raft
4. Flux

The books are works of jaw dropping imagination on an epic scale, all backed up by real world science. In fact a lot of the science is far above my comprehension but the plot tend to be easy enough to follow and the characters while fairly simplistic are likable enough. I can tell Baxter made a real effort to develop his characters, evidently not his forte but I appreciate the attempt. The dialogues leave something to be desired but I can forgive him that.

There are a few more books in the full Xeelee Sequence beside these four volumes but these should be enough for newcomers to the series to be getting on with. Recommended for fans of hard science fiction (if you are hard enough).

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Note:

Stephen Baxter has this to say about the reading order for the Xeelee Sequence:

"I hope that all the books and indeed the stories can be read stand-alone. I’m not a great fan of books that end with cliff-hangers. So you could go in anywhere. One way would be to start with ‘[b:Vacuum Diagrams|63960|Vacuum Diagrams (Xeelee Sequence, #5)|Stephen Baxter|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1287864018s/63960.jpg|62107]’, a collection that sets out the overall story of the universe. Then ‘Timelike Infinity’ and ‘Ring’ which tell the story of Michael Poole, then ‘Raft’ and ‘Flux’ which are really incidents against the wider background, and finally ‘Destiny’s Children.’"
(Source)