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July 30th, 2013, 08:34 PM #1
Peter Hamilton - Commonwealth vs. Night's Dawn
I've heard good things about Peter Hamilton and I'd like to read a good meaty space opera with philosophical elements in the vein of Vinge, Simmons and Zindell, so it sounds like he's the ticket. Anyhow, I just received Pandora's Star in the mail and The Reality Dysfunction is on its way; I believe these are the two first books in his major sequences (other than Misspent Youth, which proceeds Pandora's Star, but by quite a bit and I've heard questionable things). Which of these two series do folks recommend? How do they differ? Strengths and weaknesses? Etc.
July 31st, 2013, 09:39 AM #2
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Commonwealth is a 2 book series...Night's Dawn is at least 3, maybe more. They are all huge books, so its a major commitment regardless. Unless your a very fast reader, you wont be getting back to whichever you put aside for a while.
Night's Dawn has a weirder premise that may not work for everyone, and starts slow (I seem to recall it takes 200 pages to really ramp up). Night's Dawn also has a clear Deux Ex Machina ending, just as A Fire Upon the Deep did. And a fair amount of torture as well. Its an awesome series nonetheless, and I highly recommend it, but I tend to think the Commonwealth series may be safer, as in more likely that most fans of meaty space opera will like it.
Commonwealth is a more traditional space opera in some sense, but also highly innovative and original.
All of the above said, if it does work for you, its possible you might actually like Night's Dawn better. Sure, the dead coming back to life sounds (incredibly) stupid, but, just one random example, Al Capone running a space empire turns out to be impossibly cooler than it sounds.
Anyway, your in for a treat I think.
Last edited by ArtNJ; July 31st, 2013 at 09:42 AM.
July 31st, 2013, 10:36 AM #3
Thanks, Art. I'm probably going to given Pandora's Star a shot first as its the "bird in hand," but then if it doesn't draw me in by the time RD arrives I'll give that a shot. I've become very finicky in my old age with regards to what I'll finish...I've been reading a lot of first chapters and only continuing if it really draws me in, so we'll see.
July 31st, 2013, 11:05 AM #4
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August 10th, 2013, 01:28 AM #5
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I tend to agree. If you are new to Hamilton, the Commonwealth series is a good place to start. If you find that you enjoy it then move on to the more challenging Night's Dawn trilogy. Hamilton's stories are very complex and take time to set up but for me at least, the payoff has always been worth it.
August 10th, 2013, 09:28 AM #6
Pandora's Star is a much, much slower novel than The Reality Dysfunction, which starts with a bang and features a lot of different plot developments and action beats even before the main storyline kicks in. Pandora's Star is much more of a slow-burn until the main plot kicks in (a lot later than it does in TRD), though it's very good when it does.
The only possible way to say Commonwealth is not as 'challenging' as Night's Dawn is because Commonwealth is - arguably - two volumes to Night's Dawn's three. But even that is doubtful, as Commonwealth leaves a huge number of loose ends that only the Void Trilogy answers; Pandora's Star is more the start of a five-volume series than it is a duology. Heck, there's even some stuff that Void leaves unexplained and will be picked up in the Fallers Duology.
Also, Night's Dawn's ending is in no way, shape or form a deus ex machina. All of Book 3 and a good chunk of Book 2 are spent explaining how the crisis will be resolved and they basically go off and do it. It's like Frodo being told he has to throw the Ring into Mount Doom, he goes off and does it and everyone yells, "Deus ex machina!" It's total nonsense.
August 12th, 2013, 12:38 PM #7
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- Nov 2010
Still, I am very convinced that the ending is a clear and shameless Deux Ex Machina. Your Frodo analogy is off, as Frodo knew where he was going, what he was going to do there, and (roughly) what would happen when he did it. By contrast, in Night's Dawn, all the hero knows is that in the past another race found a solution, not what it was. The solution turns out to be, not anything that is integrated into the story, forshadowed or makes sense, but rather basically a "god" button. Classic deux ex machina. Pissed me off and let me down at the time. Mind you, I did expect an ending of that type because I couldnt see any tight way to resolve the problem, but the necessity for a Deux Ex Machina doesnt fully excuse it.
Now quick, someone remind me how to do spoiler text so I can hide above. Not that it really matters, since the journey is infinitely more important than the ending to the series.
As far as the slow to start point, my intent wasnt to comment on how fast the Commonwealth series starts, since I dont really remember that. I do clearly remember that the first book of Night's Dawn starts quite slowly, and feel that this is an appropriate point to make, especially given that the OP has an issue with slow starts at times. I defer to you as to whether Commonwealth starts even more slowly.
Last edited by ArtNJ; August 12th, 2013 at 12:49 PM.
August 13th, 2013, 09:00 PM #8
Hey, does that mean I have FINALLY forgotten enough of it to read it again?!?
August 13th, 2013, 09:48 PM #9
Just an update. I finally started Pandora's Star and am enjoying it so far - through two chapters, or 70 pages. It hasn't quite clicked as a "must-finish" book - so far it seems Hamilton is just setting the stage and he's switching characters every chapter, with a different viewpoint character in the prologue, chapter 1, chapter 2, and from what I can tell, chapter 3. I'm getting the sense that he's going to be doing this for awhile, and the main story line isn't going to really get going for another couple hundred pages, but I could be wrong.
September 4th, 2013, 06:36 AM #10
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- May 2010
I dont know if anyone has mentioned this yet, I skimmed the comments but I didnt notice you mention Judas Unchained, its the second book after Pandoras Star and I have read some reviews of PS that say it ends and where is the second book because its not really labeled that way anywhere
I have read both of them and I must say that TND did take much longer to get moving but it was worth it I really loved those books more so than PS/JU
September 4th, 2013, 11:30 AM #11Your dead wrong. Ha, just thought I would be emphatic since you were.
Spoiler:Deus ex machina have to come out of nowhere. They cannot be foreshadowed, set up or hinted at beforehand, as then it's not a DEM. The ending of The Stand by Stephen King, in which the heroes are defeated and literally the hand of God comes flying out of the sky and blows up an entire city with a handy nuke, is a classic DEM.
In The Reality Dysfunction we are told even before the end of the book that the Tyrathca have encountered a space-dwelling entity capable of teleporting starships hundreds of light-years, so clearly has massive powers over wormhole technology.
In The Neutronium Alchemist we are again told that the Tyrathca Sleeping God has these powers and that the Confederation may even be able to ask it for help. IIRC, in either Book 2 or Book 3 someone also suggests using a specially-tailored wormhole to strip the possessors from the bodies they've taken over and return them to the beyond, but they haven't a clue how to do it.
In The Naked God the heroes get together and decide they are going to go ask the Sleeping God to help them out. They then go and ask the Sleeping God to help them out. The Sleeping God says sure, why not, and uses specially-tailored wormholes to strip the possessors etc, solving the problem.
It's a pretty straightforward foreshadowing-set up-action-resolution situation. It's only DEM if you read the books without paying any attention to what's going on and what people are doing.