Stephen Baxter is a British science fiction author. He writes very hard science fiction, dealing with truly vast concepts, as well as engineering on a cosmological scale. Although not necessary, an understanding of the more esoteric areas in physics such as superstring theory and quantum cosmology can help in getting the most from his books. For me it is his concepts that make his books 'unput-downable'; I get the feeling reading his books he's taken an idea and thought it as far as it can go. For instance, if your civilisation is suffiecently advanced enough to make a time machine, what would you do with it? Baxter's answer to this is really the most convincing one I've ever read, he's thought far more deeply than the grandfather paradox or winning the lottery.
Here is an except from his autobiography, in his own words :-
I was born in Liverpool, England, in 1957. I have degrees in mathematics, from Cambridge University, and engineering, from Southampton University. I worked as a teacher of maths and physics, and for several years in information technology. I have been a full-time author since 1995.
My novels have won several awards including the Philip K Dick Award, the John Campbell Memorial Award, the British Science Fiction Association Award, the Kurd Lasswitz Award (Germany) and the Seiun Award (Japan) and have been nominated for several others, including the Arthur C Clarke Award, the Hugo Award and Locus awards. I have published around fifty sf short stories, several of which have won prizes, including the Writers of the Future contest.
In 1991 he applied to become an astronaut, maybe it's was his rejection that motivated him to become a writer; certainly you can see in his works a longing for the stars...
The Time Ships