This book was pretty ok. It was very well executed, given the complexity of it all, but I found it very long and incding plotlines that didn’t necessarily go anywhere over the course of the story. There is a follow up that I’m reading next, so we’ll see if those loose ends eventually get tied up.
Author: Peter Hamilton
First published in 2004 – this was a book one of my friends owns abd wanted me to read.
I had a hard time believing I needed all of the information and viewpoints in the book to understand the story. While not bad, I felt like the book didn’t take me anywhere, nor did it have a satisfying completion. If you go into this book, plan on reading the sequel if you want literally any resolution (though this ‘sequel will wrap things up’ theory is as of yet untested).
Hamilton has to be a plotter. The complex puzzles in this book are extremely involved, and the rate at which he feeds critical information is intricately timed to accentuate events in the book.
At the same time, a whole lot of what happens is… nothing. The exciting pieces described on the back cover barely make a blip on the wordcount.
Also, the pseudoscience in this… eeeeeep… I try not to comment too much on bad science since developments are always happening, but his technobabble and naming conventions made me cringe. Every time he said ‘resequencing’ I died a little on the inside. Sequencing doesn’t alter DNA structure, just reads it put – resequencing is when you read a sequence again, usually due to bad conditions or questionable results. His nuclear technology was very questionable, and his chemistry, biochemistry, and materials science pretty off.
Anyway, I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this, but neither would I suggest not giving it a chance. A lot of people LOVE this book, and I think the complexity and mystery are well executed. I’d wait for my review of Judas Unchained to make a better analysis of the story.
There are a lot of ways to spoil this book because there were a lot of twists and turns. Usually that’s the kind of book I like, and I totally enjoy slow-build sci-fi mysteries. My problem was that the book was so long and I never felt like my time reading was rewarded with a conclusion or success.
On the back of the book and in summaries, it sounds like Captain Wilson Kime is going to be the main character. It sounds like you’ll follow a wormhole-facilitated journey to find a hoarde of evil aliens that want to murder the humans. The book barely focused on Kime’s journeys. A fairer summary would probably be:
Paula Myo, a crack investigator literally bred for the job, has failed to catch her primary target – Bradley Johansson of the Guardians of Self terrorist cult – for 130 years. As Johansson’s activity reaches a fever pitch to stop a Human Commonwealth deep-space mission to investigate aliens at the mysterious Dyson Pair, Myo’s constant failures come to the forefront of Commonwealth consciousness. But with Myo’s record and analytical mind, how has she failed her constituents so long? Is it possible she believes that Johansson’s mystical devil, the Starflyer, is actually real?
Spoiler: she does think Johansson’s evil alien, the Starflyer, is real.
In case you can’t already tell from this short explanation, the book is massively complex. I’ve spoiled a ton of the book, but there’s still elements – like the literal Tolkeinesque elf aliens – that I haven’t even touched on. The book sets up a universe that has so many premises and wondrous adventures that I can’t help but admire it, but damn. Damn – it just left me with such a sour disdain for its abrupt ending.
Look out for the next book in the series – Judas Unchained! I have the distinct feeling that Hamilton wrote both Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained as one story that was too massive to publish on its own. So, here’s to seeing where all this buildup will get me!