Book Stats

  • A Standalone Novel
  • Published by Gollancz
  • First published in 2021
  • Hard SF
  • 524 pages


The year is 2057, and the Sun has disappeared. Earth is thrown into chaos. The climate shifts, alliances fall apart, thousands die. Yet this is only the beginning . . .


Now this right here is the kind of book I was hoping to find when I started reading Stephen Baxter. It is unashamedly hard SF, with a strong social bent. It takes itself incredibly seriously, but even in the darkest moments there is a sense of wide-eyed curiosity. This is a book where science poses numerous problems for the world, but also shows us how to overcome them. How to confront a seemingly uncaring universe, armed with nothing but humanity’s collective wits and a willingness to dream big.

Heads up, this review is going to have spoilers in it. The story as described on the back cover only scratches the surface of what this book is about. If you don’t want spoilers, then take this review as a wholehearted recommendation that you should read this book, and avert your eyes now.

Are they gone? Good. Let’s talk about the good stuff. The blurb makes it seem as if this book is simply about the Sun going out, but that’s just the inciting incident. Twenty-four hours later, the Sun comes back. Mass extinction averted, hooray. However, this leads to two issues for humanity.

First is the damage already inflicted. Earth’s orbit has changed, leading to a renewed climate disaster, as well as geological stresses. All of this leads to political tension across the globe, but in this case we largely see humanity rising to the challenge. There’s a lot mentioned of having learned from past mistakes, and I think this is only the second book I’ve read (the other being John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society) that referenced the Coronavirus pandemic. This is largely because I haven’t read many books set around 2020-present, but it’s an event I expect to see crop up more and more when future histories mention momentous periods of the past. Baxter does a really good job of showing societal changes in response to these stimuli, even managing to depict future political movements without weighing in favour of any present-day party or organisation.

The more unexpected side of the story is the idea that the Sun was turned off deliberately. Vast and incomprehensible cosmic intellects seem to be a mainstay for Baxter’s books, but what humanity calls Galaxias is for more palatable to me than whatever was going on in Ultima. I love the theories of alternate evolution here, the greater-than-our-own technology on display, and the general science of it all. It’s mindboggling, but feels plausible, which is what this style of science fiction should be. I also like the fact that we never really get a concrete answer. I’m not a follower of the whole ‘some things man was not meant to know’ school of thought, but when dealing with these topics in fiction, the answer is often underwhelming, so a bit of ambiguity goes a long way.

Galaxias has swiftly become one of my favourite books of the year, and will be the standard against which I set further Baxter books in the months to come.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Deeper Dive: Open Endings

I am a simple man. When a book poses a question, I expect it to give an answer. For example, if I read a murder mystery, and the murderer is never identified, I would consider that a poor book. But not all questions are as clean-cut as whodunnit.

Galaxias could have been a book about making contact with an alien being, and in that regard it would not have met my expectations. But that is not the book Baxter has written. Galaxias asks the question of how humanity reacts to the idea that there are forces out there greater than ourselves. On that front, it is an overwhelming success.

The ending is incredibly open, both in terms of individual characters, and the more cosmic implications of the epilogue. The openness of both endings work to the stories advantage. Ultimately, Galaxias is not the story of first contact, it’s about humanity taking its first steps into a larger galaxy. What we see here is but the opening chapter of a much larger story. Perhaps there will one day be a sequel, but as a standalone, the ambiguity of the ending is a feature, not a bug.

2 responses to “BOOK REVIEW: Galaxias, by Stephen Baxter”

  1. Bookstooge Avatar

    Question for you regarding the theme you use, masu I believe?
    I keep looking at switching over to it and have a test blog to play around, but I just noticed the other day, there doesn’t seem to be a way to edit posts directly. Am I missing something? because going to the admin area and searching for a post within that confine instead of on my blog itself seems very limiting (I am currently updating all my reviews to have an author tag). Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something super obvious.


  2. MONTHLY ROUNDUP: May 2023 – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] Book: Galaxias, by Stpehen Baxter […]


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