The Xeelee Sequence (Baxter cites pronunciation as "Chee-lee" in "Xeelee: Vengeance") is a series of hard science fiction space opera novels, novellas, and short stories written by British science fiction author Stephen Baxter. The series spans billions of years of fictional history, centering on humanity's future expansion into the universe, its cosmos-spanning war with an enigmatic and supremely powerful Kardashev Type IV alien civilization called the Xeelee, and the Xeelee's own war with dark matter entities called Photino Birds. The series features many other species and civilizations that play a prominent role, including the Squeem (a species of group-mind aquatics), the Qax (beings whose biology is based on the complex interactions of convection cells), and the Silver Ghosts (symbiotic organisms encased in reflective shells). Several stories in the Sequence also deal with humans and posthumans living in extreme conditions, such as at the heart of a neutron star (Flux), in a separate universe with considerably stronger gravity (Raft), and within eusocial hive societies (Coalescent).
I haven't read all the books yet, but this is absolute madness. Imagine the cthulhu mythos invading star trek, and you'll find yourself and everything you've ever known caught in the middle of a war between baryonic lords and flocks of darkness.
Never have I ever known that something can be so primitive and yet so advanced as the photino birds, nor something as ruthlessly efficient yet just as creatively merciful as the Xeelee.
Reading just a bit of everything about the Xeelee, the Anti-Xeelee, the Photino Birds, the Monads, the Qax, and the future of humanity as an exterminator race, made me rethink about our actual place in the cosmos, knowing that we're nothing but products of chance, destined to live and let live until we die as the timeless Monads of configuration space comftably laugh and cry at the futility of all our struggles combined.
How can we ever hope to conquer such an unforgiving cosmos much darker and more critical than WH40K?
Straight from another wiki page, here are the notable races mentioned within Stephen Baxter's collection of short stories:
are a hyper-advanced species from Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence. They were first remotely mentioned in the 1994 novel Timelike Infinity and were later central actors of several novels and a substantial number of short stories. Within the Xeelee Sequence, they are considered to be the most advanced of all Baryonic life-forms and posses technology and abilities far beyond other spacefaring civilization. They have demonstrated the ability to routinely construct Closed Timelike Curves and have engineered their own evolution and history as far back as 20 billion years ago (within two hundred million years of the Big Bang). Their abilities in the series far exceed that of a Type III Civilization on the Kardashev scale.
is a universe spanning quantum-wave consciousness constructed by the Xeelee to manage their projects. It was first briefly described in the conclusion of Timelike Infinity when it was encountered by Michael Poole after having been pushed several million years into the future. It was later developed somewhat more in the short story Vacuum Diagrams. Its name is derived from the particle/anti-particle naming convention to convey its paired and complimentary existence with the Xeelee; it does not describe an opposition to the Xeelee. It further implied that the Anti-Xeelee, in at least some regards, is travelling backwards in time like some anti-particles are thought to do.
are the humans in Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee Sequence novel Exultant. The human-supremacist Interim Coalition of Governance has conquered almost the whole Milky Way — all but the alien Xeelee concentrated at the galactic core around a supermassive black hole called Chandra. The mysterious Xeelee are far more advanced but less numerous than the humans, and the war has been at a stalemate for three millennia even though the entire Coalition has been directed toward the war effort and ten billion humans die at the front every year. In a war fought with faster-than-light technology (equivalent to time travel), each side has foreknowledge of the others actions and can develop counter-measures to plans before they are made.
are an informal name given to a species of dark matter creatures, which are colonizing all the stars of the universe, feeding off the energy in their cores. Unaffected by the physical heat of the star, the creatures simply orbit its gravity well. Photino Birds gain sustenance by staying within stable, non-extreme wells of gravity. While an active star provides such gravity, it also runs the risk of destabilizing into supernovae which in turn collapse into neutron stars and ultimately into black holes; black hole gravity is too extreme for their purposes. Therefore, the Photino Birds engage in a campaign to prevent supernovae by prematurely stalling the fusion reaction of every star in the universe. This will cause these stars to stop emitting energy and instead cool into white dwarves: still massive enough to exert gravity for the Photino Birds but completely stable.
are an alien species created from chaotic forces (first in liquid before evolving to form parts of gas giants, brown dwarfs and eventually the quantum fabric of the universe). They are few in number and as such not naturally warlike, instead they focus on trade.
"There was no place. There was no time. A human observer would have recognised nothing here: no mass, energy, or force. There was only a rolling, random froth whose fragmented geometry constantly changed. Even causality was a foolish dream. The orderly spacetime with which humans were familiar was suffused with vacuum energy, out of which virtual particles, electrons and quarks, would fizz into existence, and then scatter or annihilate, their brief walks upon the stage governed by quantum uncertainty. In this extraordinary place whole universes bubbled out of the froth, to expand and dissipate, or to collapse in a despairing flare. This chaotic cavalcade of possibilities, this place of nonbeing where whole universes clustered in reefs of foamy spindrift, was suffused by a light beyond light. But even in this cauldron of strangeness there was life. Even here there was mind. Call them monads."
evolved on a watery planet as giant, whale-like creatures. Spline technology advanced to the point where they were able to plate their organic hides with materials capable of withstanding outer space. The Spline then moved into the galaxy as living ships for hire.
is a species that had the unfortunate position of being the first contact after the Qax occupation, the era of the Third Expansion. Although the Ghosts were largely benevolent explorers, concerned more with science and experimentation than conquest, they were met with unease. In part this was due to their track record of reckless experimentation with forbidden technologies, though Man's own prejudice towards unfamiliar aliens was prominent.
So. What do you make of all that?