Vacuum Diagrams

Vacuum Diagrams is a collection of science fiction short stories by British writer Stephen Baxter. The collection connects the novels of the Xeelee Sequence and also shows the history of mankind in the Xeelee universe, and ultimately the universe. While each short story in the collection is self-contained, the stories are presented as being contained in the context of the first story, “Eve”, about a man (seemingly Jack Raoul from the portion of the timeline concerned with the Silver Ghosts) who is forced to witness the events in the short stories by a god-like being. “Eve” acts as a structure for the short stories, with an introduction at the beginning of Vacuum Diagrams, short scenes occurring between each “era” (with “Eve” character explaining and introducing the next section), and an ending that wraps up the plot for the “Eve” story itself. Vacuum Diagrams won the Philip K. Dick Award in 1999.At the end of the collection, a chronology of the Xeelee Sequence is provided. Every short story and book from the cycle (up to 1997) is noted, with notable events from each story plotted.
“Vacuum Diagrams” is also the title of the fifteenth short story in this collection. It was originally published in Interzone in 1990. The title “Vacuum Diagrams” refers to the violation and reassertion of the uncertainty principle in our universe. Set in A.D. 21124, the story concerns the main character’s attempt and failure to terraform a colony due to its upset of the agenda of the galactic-scale builders known as the Xeelee.


Read or listen to Vacuum Diagrams

by Stephen Baxter