Yuri Eden wakes up on a starship on mankind’s first voyage to another star, Proxima Centauri, four light-years away. He does not know why he is there, he does not know his destiny, but he knows he is not there by his own free will, and neither are the other 200 or so “colonists” who will be dropped off on an earth-like planet in orbit around the star.
Proxima is the story of forced colonization of an utterly alien world, and the hardships that accompany such an endeavor.
Baxter is a world-builder. He tells the story of first contact with alien life on an alien planet. But he also constructs a political system in the late 22nd century, roughly when Proxima takes place.
I enjoyed the first contact and colonization sections of the book, but I didn’t care about the distracting artificial intelligences and their political machinations, the silly political structure, and the military power structure that seems to dominate society.
It’s like he meant this to be a space opera, but there was too much material, not enough focus, coupled with shallow character building and an almost silly plot, that was distracting from what could have been a good, albeit slightly boring, story of colonization of another star system.
In the end, I enjoyed reading Proxima, but do not have any interest in reading the sequel, Ultima. I don’t care enough for the world Baxter built here, and for its characters.