Genre Science Fiction Publisher Random House Date Published 2005 Review Posted on 10/14/2006 Reviewer Rating
# of Ratings: 19 Average Rating: 9 out of 10
Pandora's Star, by Peter F. Hamilton
Reviewed by Heather Hunt
If you've read this book, why not
If you're looking for a futuristic saga to sink your teeth into, Pandora's Star by Peter Hamilton is the ticket to your fantastic journey. This science fiction epic has something for everyone.
If you like a cast of thousands involved in multiple plot lines that all weave together in a grand adventure, then you'll love Hamilton's vision of our galaxy circa 2380 A.D.
If you're a cold case buff, there's the 130-year investigation by Paula Myo, genetically engineered with an obsessive compulsive trait that makes it impossible for her to be dishonest or unjust, into suspected criminal, Bradley Johansson, founder of the Guardians of Selfhood, an underground (or is it undergalaxy?) crime syndicate. She pursues him across several lifetimes literally.
If you like the idea of having several lifetimes, Hamilton depicts rejuvenation as a common practice in the 24th century. In this process, people have a memory chip implanted in their brains, and around age 50, instead of getting a colonoscopy as we in the 21st century are instructed to do, they get a new body engineered into which their memory chip is planted. Presto! Second childhood. And third. And fourth, and on until you decide to stop, which not many people do.
Even if your body is killed, you can "relife" if you've kept your memory chip in deep storage somewhere. That chip can be implanted in a new body, too, and Presto! You're back. Some people opt to have some memories erased when they rejuve or relife to forget bad experiences-or just to make their lives less complicated.
As you can see, Hamilton has created a consistent and believable brave new world by extrapolating current technologies to their plausible applications. He has also surmised a realistic depiction of what life would be like with these new capabilities.
Even with all of the futuristic fantasy, however, the story remains the same. Indeed, the Myo/Johansson pursuit is a space age retelling of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" with a modern Javert hunting for the thief Valjean. But just as Valjean stole bread to feed his family, is Johansson committing crimes to save the galaxy?
And there's more.
If you're an admirer of Bill Gates and Paul Anderson, or stories about innovators who change our lives forever, you have Nigel Sheldon and Ozzie Isaac. These college dropouts created a working wormhole and spoiled the first landing of humans on Mars by popping out of their homemade wormhole just as the spaceship crew touched boot to red soil. Because of the widespread application of wormholes for space travel, NASA shuts down and astronauts find themselves out of business.
That is until hostile aliens from another galaxy threaten to invade ours. Suddenly we need a Navy and we need it fast!
If you're a Tolkien fan, you'll enjoy the benevolent aliens, the Silfen, who resemble both elves and fairies as they travel the universe on their mysterious paths that bring walkers to different planets in such subtle ways that pilgrims can get lost in the cosmos. In fact, this first book in The Commonwealth Saga ends on a literal cliffhanger as pilgrims on the Silfen paths fall over the edge of a world!
Pandora's Star has something for everyone, and Hamilton unleashes it all with a masterful touch. The reason for 4 stars instead of 5 is that at 988 pages the story is bound to drag at parts. But once the invasion begins, hang onto your chairs!
Great book, I read it a couple years back. Definitely one of his best works, if not the best. The setting is unimaginably conplex and dense, and the story is also involved as a result. A must-read for anyone interested in science fiction. It does require some dedication though; it is particularly lengthy.
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