Manifold Time is a great big read from Stephen Baxter. It takes on nothing less than the making and remaking of the future of the entire universe. The central character is Reid Malenfant--"bad boy", loosely translated, and it fits him nicely. He overcomes bureaucracy by daring in an attempt to understand events. These kind of big scope books are my favorites--Cosm by Gregory Benford and Birthright: The Book of Man by Mike Resnick are good examples. There are actually sequels, maybe I will check them out someday.
The book came at an interesting time for SF. It was a heady time--published in 2000, after we all survived Y2K and the .com boom was still on. Cyberpunk still dominated SF at the time, so a big book about the universe was a little unusual. But it fits Baxter to a T. In Manifold Time we read the confidence of that era, that even if we didn't know the answers we could find a way through.