I'm looking for the author and title of a book. I believe it's (supposed to be) the first in a trilogy, all using the same characters, but taking place in different universes - with only humans, with one type of aliens and with many aliens.

In it a gen-manipulated and very intelligent squid has been trained to fly a space-ship, and start exploring a planet and build a habitat. She (the squid) has managed to get pregnant, so by the time she dies, there are a whole colony of intelligent squids living in the habitat they've expanded.

Eventually there is a rift among the squids, and a group of them escapes in a space-ship they've built - just before the habitat is destroyed by the humans, because the squids threaten the mission.

I should point-out that most of the book was about the human characters, it's just that the squids were so special it stuck in my mind.

I may be mixing together with another book (but I don't think so), so here are few other things that (I think) happened:

  • Some sort of spreading cataclysmic event, that would swallow first the solar-system and eventually the whole galaxy/universe, setting a distinct time limit (very long time).
  • Some sort of portal that allowed travel into the very distant future - so distant actually, that one could observe the creation and destructions of several new universes, after first observing our own end. (I believe one of the squids was the first one through.)

3 Answers 3


You're thinking of Manifold: Time (1999) by Stephen Baxter. It is the first book in the Manifold trilogy, followed by Manifold: Space and Manifold: Origin.

Time is set on Earth, the inner part of the Solar System and various other universes onwards from the 21st century. The novel covers a wide range of topics, including the Doomsday argument, Fermi paradox, genetic engineering, and humanity's extinction.

The book begins at the end of space and time, when the last descendants of humanity face an infinite but pointless existence. Due to proton decay the physical universe has collapsed, but some form of intelligence has survived by embedding itself into a lossless computing substrate where it can theoretically survive indefinitely. However, because there will never be new input, eventually all possible thoughts will be exhausted. Some portion of this intelligence decides that this should not have been the ultimate fate of the universe, and takes action to change the past, centering on the early 21st century. The changes come in several forms, including a message to Reid Malenfant, the appearance of super-intelligent children around the world, and the discovery of a mysterious gateway on asteroid 3753 Cruithne.

Baxter's short story "Sheena 5" explores an alternate ending to the story of Sheena, the intelligent squid.


This theme first came up in Baxter's short story “Sheena 5” (see Variety SF for a review), which is much more about the squid and less about the humans.

A squid is genetically modified to be intelligent enough to pilot and land a spacecraft.

She manages to proudly complete her mission without letting her ground controllers know that she managed to get pregnant on Earth. A few of her offspring inherited her intelligence, and the end result is a whole colony of intelligent squid in space.


You are thinking of the two books, Children of Time and Children of Ruin, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Though I do think you might be mixing a bit of extra other book bits in. But most of your description is on-point for the plots.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F! Can you explain how the question maps to each of the books? (That is, which details match which book, and how they fit together?) Right now you don't have enough details here for people who might be looking for a book that matches the question to recognize the books you're talking about. It would also help if you emphasized a some of the differences with the book described in the accepted answer.
    – DavidW
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 14:23
  • 3
    Note that the OP has already accepted an answer here of a different book, Manifold: Time, so this isn't a combination of those books. Please try not to answer a story id question if it has an accepted answer unless you truly believe the OP is mistaken but then you would have to come up with a convincing argument for why this is more likely correct. Also as it stands this is quite brief and you really should edit it to explain more about how this matches the description in the question.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 14:32
  • Ahah. Never mind then. I was just trying to be a bit helpful, as I had just read these books and they sounded pretty spot on to what the OP was mentioning. You can feel free to delete my original message if you’d like. I’m not going to spend time fleshing it out. Have a good day!
    – Jessica
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 13:09
  • Agree that those books do seem plausible - except that the question was asked in 2013 and the novels published in 2015 and 2019.
    – Michael
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 19:58

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