by Stephen Baxter
Review by Thomas Rafalski

Book Type:Hard SF (It even says so on the back cover.)
Overall Rating:B-
Soft Sci-Fi fans:C-
Hard Sci-Fi fans:A
Fantasy Only Fans:Stay far away from this book.
Plot:A / D -see below -
Setting:A++++++ -Really nifty environment.

Flux by Stephen Baxter is a story about artificially engineered humans living in a neutron star. I think it is in the middle of a series that Baxter is working on, but it is capable of standing on it's own. Overall, I'd give it a "B-" with an adamant suggestion that you not read the book unless you're looking for hard sci-fi. The science (including the setting of the book is first rate, and I like the pre-history of the story included in the work. However, the book suffers from several very sharp stylistic weaknesses related to trying to the author's attempted use of devices that he isn't capable of handling. The plot development is rated as such because the author attempts to do a Tolkienesk type of duoplot for the second half of the book. The book would have been much better and more palatable to non-hard-sci-fi readers if he would have kept to the main plot and left out the secondary events (or, at least minimized them). It didn't read as if there were two plots - even though that's what the author clearly intended to do. - It felt as if there was a main plot and events that were occurring parallel to the plot that had some bearing, but that were so predictable that the author shouldn't have done anything but make the occasional slight mention that they were occurring. The book also looses a bit of steam about midway because the author starts fully integrating the "local" lingo of the characters, and, there again, he's no Tolkien. Some of the lingo that is supposed to be serious -especially the made-up profanities- become highly annoying. Finally, the characters all act as if they are high-energy astrophysicists, instead of farmers, nomadic herders, and political administrators (I have a lot of trouble buying the explanations that the author gives, when he even bothers to do so.) It isn't a bad read, but it's not the kind of a "smooth ride" that you get from someone like Bradbury or Clark (in his better works).

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