Ultima by Stephen Baxter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ultima is the second and final book of this duology that had a first book that basically took the entirety of the story to reach a good payoff. The way it ended so clearly redeemed the concept that I was curious as to how the sequel would figure everything out, and the result is a book that is even better than its predecessor and turned this into one of my favorite duologies. Spoilers going forward.
The end of Proxima had our crew running into a group of people who were speaking Latin. What we quickly learn is that the hatches from book one are designed as portals into alternate dimensions, and where our crew happens to be is an alternate universe where the Roman Empire continued its dominance. The story continues along the same lines as time progresses and we visit more universes and the mysteries are untangled.
I love both time travel and alternate universe stories, so the fact that Ultima was able to exceed my already-high expectations is awesome. I understand a lot of the flaws in the story and why some aren't finding it to be as great as I am, but it's a great mix of genres (including a way to do alternate history without disrupting existing timelines) that just hit all the right spots for me.
Definitely recommended for sci-fi fans and people who like weird alternate histories. A fun ride.
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