January 24th, 2006, 08:47 PM
\m/ BEER \m/
Feb '06 SF BOTM: PANDORA'S STAR by Peter F. Hamilton
Discussion will open on February 1st!
January 31st, 2006, 09:01 PM
Discussion is now open. Enjoy.
February 1st, 2006, 11:20 AM
\m/ BEER \m/
I am 560 pages in and I am really enjoying the book. The scale of the story the future Hamilton has mapped out compliment each other very well. I don't want to say too much more right now, though.
Has anybody made it through the 980+ page monster yet?
February 1st, 2006, 11:49 AM
I powered through it in just over a week as I wanted to get through all the book club books in time to read Scott's new book when it came out on the 19th....still waiting on Scott's new book. That was something of a downer for me.
I really quite enjoyed this monster. Not too many books of this size can keep me interested all the way through. I have some detailed thoughts, but not enough time to put them down here now. I'll just say I'll be ordering Judas Unchained in HC when it comes out.
February 1st, 2006, 11:50 AM
For me only 30 pages left (I'm reading the paperback edition which is 1143 pages long).
February 1st, 2006, 11:58 AM
\m/ BEER \m/
I agree, as big as this thing is, the strength of the narrative pull is pretty consistent.
Originally Posted by Erfael
The only negative remark I can is that the publishers really, REALLY should have added a 'dramatis personae' or glossary of characters type of page, especially with upwards of a hundred pages between characters reappearing.
February 1st, 2006, 12:02 PM
Humm, mine HAS one
Originally Posted by Rob B
February 1st, 2006, 12:09 PM
Originally Posted by Rob B
I can't remember names now, but there was one character, Mark?, who was in the "dead-end" job on the really corporate world who then moved to the world that was later invaded. His second appearance, after they moved to Randtown, I had NO IDEA who he was for most of the chapter. Completely didn't tie in to the character I had met previously. Ultimately I figured out who he was and where he fit in, but it's stuff like that that a glossary could have really helped (or just better refreshers in the text to bring us back up to date on who exactly we were talking about.)
February 1st, 2006, 12:14 PM
I read this back in October and absolutely loved it. It's pretty much everything I want in my science fiction. It's a huge story, huge cast of characters, but because I read it so quickly, I managed to keep everyone straight.
The only problem I had then was that I picked it up thinking it was a standalone book. So when I got to the end with "To be continued in Judas Unchained, I have to admit that I actually screamed.
But I've read the second book now, and I feel better. It kept up the high standards and wrapped everything up nicely.
I just love the fact that he created such a huge universe to play in, then proceeded to really have fun with it. All the Silfen worlds, all the different human colonies. He also handled the cultural homogenization that would come with insti-communications well, I thought.
BTW, the opening scene on Mars, all the way in the beginning, is now one of my favorite stand-alone scenes in all of SF.
February 1st, 2006, 12:32 PM
Mine, too. One of my favorite things about how he opened this book is that any of the prologue and the first several chapters could read as really good short stories in and of themselves, completely stand-alone. As the novel goes on and the threads start coming together this breaks down a little bit, but I thought almost every character's intro was handled exceptionally.
Originally Posted by Archren
I admit, there were some threads that I had no idea how they would tie into the whole (the murder mystery in the beginning), but they were all tied in in what I thought were good, believable ways. In addition, another thing I liked a lot is how many TYPES of stories he incorporated. I think this went a long way to keeping my interest. There was a murder mystery and a space exploration story and an BDO-type story and espionage story and a story about exploring the Silfen and several others. But they were all interesting and they changed often enough not to get tired.
February 1st, 2006, 12:35 PM
Give me liberty!
Some thoughts ... may contain spoilers for those who haven't completed the book yet
I read 'Pandora's Star' and its sequel, 'Judas Unchained', last year. I hope no one minds me chiming in here.
For those who might not necessarily be familliar with Peter F. Hamilton's back catalogue, PS and JU are actually set in the same universe as his moderately-unscuccessful 'Misspent Youth', which was set in the near future. 'Misspent Youth' was actually something of a downer for the author, as it alienated much of the fanbase he had built up with his seminal 'Nights Dawn' trilogy. They might have expected more hi-octane, big-concept space-opera from Hamilton, and instead he gave them a very reserved, thoughtful meditation on the social effects of a "rejuvination" treatment which could reverse the aging process. Hamilton might have been proud of 'Misspent Youth', but his publishing house made sure that PU had written large on its cover that this was a "return to outer space" for their bestselling author.
While the Commonwealth books, as PS and JU are known, hark back to 'Nights dawn' in terms of their sheer size, they are markedly different in tone. PS and JU are simultaneously spy story, political thriller, specualive fiction, melodrama and military SF, but with a marginally more plausible feel to them than the 'Nights Dawn' series. Whereas the earlier series was packed full of the bizarre and grotesque, the Commonwealth books feel more comparable to SF influenced by 'The West Wing' or '24'.
PS lagged for me at times, and I'm inclined to agree with one of the posters above that the plotline revolving around Mark and Randtown felt somewhat aimless until the eventual invasion of the Dyson-Alpha aliens. At that point, however, Mark becomes something of an 'everyman' member of the Commonwealth, and the reader sees a side of events which are not teased out in the same way as if events were described from the perspective of some of the more immortal and uber-powerful characters.
Hamilton's ability to micro-manage his plot, and willingness to devote pages and pages to setting scenes and describing Commonwealth society are admirable. However, at times I did find myself straining at the bit. The few large-scale set-piece action sequences in the novel are so competently done that I couldn't help but wish for a bit more of them. Hamilton writes action / military SF with such flair and verve that in some ways I would have liked to see him play to his strength a little more.
Were I to be furtherly critical, I would be inlcined to argue that the Dyson-Alpha aliens didn't quite turn out to be the awesome threat that they might have been. When the curtain came up and their society was revealed, I felt a little bit like I'd been watching a horror movie, and all the suspense had now drained away since the monster trundled on-screen and was revealed as plastic-looking and unthreatening.
With that said, PS remains one-half of one of the most enjoyable SF series to come out of the UK in recent years. In particular I felt the plotline revolving around the Guardians of Selfhood was superb. PS ends on an ambiguous note, with the truth about this 'terrorist' organisation still just tantalisingly out of reach. Things reach a satisfying, if slightly predictable, climax in JU.
While the same kind of critical success which Iain M. Banks has enjoyed has thusfar eluded Hamilton, I think the Commonweatlh books prove he has what it takes. I look forward to what comes next!
Last edited by Ouroboros; February 1st, 2006 at 12:41 PM.
February 1st, 2006, 12:57 PM
\m/ BEER \m/
This is my third experience reading Hamilton. I couldn't get into the Reality Dysfunction* and, as people who have seen me post about it before, I loved Fallen Dragon.
One element I see in common with FD and PS is how Hamilton takes a concept from Fantasy and posits it in his futuriistic SF world. Take the titular Fallen Dragon, or the Silfen or the reference to the BDO as a Dark Fortress and the evil overlord. Simon R. Green did this a lot less successfully in his Deathwalker, but here Hamilton imbues such things with the necessary sense of wonder.
February 1st, 2006, 03:09 PM
I finished it just some minutes ago and I must say that I really loved it. It's all I like about SF together in on big book
I agree with most of your comments: the book is long but fast-paced, the different sub-threads are interesting on their own and well tied together, the characters are quite well developed and all them have a different voice...
About the scenes which could stand on their own, I especially liked (as Achren) the Mars landing, the Morton trial, the planet exploration carried out by Oscar's team, and, above all, the chapter introducing the Prime. For me it is just superb. It reminded me a lot of "Sandkings" by George R. R. Martin.
And, talking about the relationship with other SF&F books, I really liked the references to the other authors. I got the ones to Clarke, Baxter (the "Raft" signed first edition), Tolkien and Huxley, but I think there might be some other. By the way, the whole book was for a kind of mix of "Hyperion" and "Ringworld" with a little bit of Charles Sheffield's "Nimrod's hunt"
As Rob B said, Hamilton always slips some fantasy theme in his books, in this case in the Silfen story. I don't really like that kind of things very much and it was for me the worst part of the book: the Ozzie travel was a bit boring some times. And I still don't see how it fits with all the rest. I suppose I have to wait to read Judas Unchained (which I'm really looking forward to) to find out
February 1st, 2006, 03:28 PM
I wanted to chime in and second Odo's mention of the chapters meticulously introducing MorningLightMountain. I'm not sure that I have ever seen such a detailed and well-reasoned alien portrayal in SF before.
Now, it may be that many authors have written that much in their personal material, i.e. they've worked out all those details but don't actually put them in the book for fear of boring readers and bogging down the plot. It was a big departure, and there was a part of me that wanted to get back to the other plotlines. But wow! It was awesome to see someone put that much thought into an alien that is really alien to us.
I agree with Ouroboros that in JU the aliens seem a little less scary, perhaps a little more familiar, but I think that has more to do with the feeling that the human protagonists are finally getting a handle on the situation, so *they* find things easier to cope with and less threatening. Whereas in PS, they're threatening as all hell, and the humans are almost powerless to do anything about them.
February 1st, 2006, 04:42 PM
I agree it was a big departure, but for me it was just wonderful. The best part of the book, surely. By the way, while reading it I had the impression it was some kind of real-time strategy game. One of those in which you have to gather different resources and build structures to get new creatures to gather resources and build resources to ...
Originally Posted by Archren
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