A novella. Cover art by David A Hardy.
A million years from now, humankind is in full retreat before the onslaught of the Xeelee, enigmatic aliens whose influence pervades the entire cosmos. Once rulers of the galaxy, our descendants must abandon planet after planet as their implacable foes seal off those worlds fromthe light of their parent stars. The Second Coalition is organising desperate evacuations, and frantically looking for exotic weapons fromthe far past to combat the Xeelee. Yet in this age of panic and decline, an unlikely grouping — a high-ranking Coalition officer, an aged savant, a teenage boy, and a dealer in antiquities of extraordinary kinds — strives to carry out the strangest of rescues, keeping alive the dimming flames of altruism and hope.
The teenager, Coton, himself a refugee, has unusual abilities, long thought dormant in his kind; via his disturbing “gravity dreams” he gains knowledge of other people very far fromhome — the descendants of a starship crew who ventured, in a distant epoch, into another universe, from which they were unable to return. There the gravitational constant is a billion times what it is here; humans inhabit great diffuse nebulae, travel using space-going trees and whales, and breathe air emanating mysteriously from a massive black hole. They have only dim recollections of their origins, butmust be drawn back to our universe, for their own is dying, approaching its final contraction. Coton makes contact with a young woman across the gulf between realities, but she has just been abducted by pirates, and has mere personal survival to achieve...
Gravity Dreams is a notable new chapter in Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee future history, accompanied here by a new Introduction from the author and “Raft”, the short story that twenty years ago began the tale so compellingly continued here.