Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter
A spaceship, towing a wormhole connected to the past, arrives back in the Solar System after a fifteen hundred year journey, only to find Earth subjugated by the alien Qax. Rebel group, the Friends of Wigner, use the wormhole to escape into the past in order to complete The Project, which they believe will save humanity. In the past, creator of the wormhole technology, Michael Poole, must decide whether to help the rebels or oppose them - a decision which could cost him his life.
This second novel in Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee sequence is a big improvement on the first. It grabbed my attention from the first page and never let go all the way through. A fast moving plot, interesting characters and some mind-bending ideas involving quantum theory add up to a thoroughly entertaining novel. And, unlike the first novel in the sequence, Raft, the Xeelee actually feature in the story (slightly).
My only criticism of this novel is the same as for Raft, namely the overuse of the science lectures. The story would have had a much better flow if the explanations of quantum theory and wormhole theory had been edited down a little. At times it seemed like I was reading a physics textbook. That said, the exposition was neatly woven into the dialogue, so it wasn’t too much of a distraction from the story, and it was required in order to understand later events.
Overall, for anyone starting the Xeelee sequence, I would recommend Timelike Infinity as a good jumping off point. Although written first, Raft is set in a completely different universe and can be read as a stand-alone novel.
Next up on the reading list, Xeelee 3, Flux. Fingers crossed the improvement continues.