Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In a lot of ways, this ambitious novel, like all of the Peter F. Hamilton novels I can think of, should be put on a higher rung than all the other SF out there. Why? Because it's LONG.
Throw in an enormous cast of characters who won't die because they can be uploaded and put back in new bodies, complete with full rejuvenation treatments that sometimes go wrong, space travel, wormhole technologies, and a huge Commonwealth of systems fully colonized.
Add characters of all stripes: from reporters to police to politicians to terrorists to technologists, throw them into a slowly boiling cauldron of scientific intrigue with a few Dyson spheres locking away an alien species, leave even more to deal with the political consequences back home. You know, like the detail that someone who could lock away an alien species is already super powerful, or the question as to why the species was locked away, to begin with. Good stuff all around.
So why do I have a bit of an issue with this?
Well, for the same reason I think it should be put on a higher rung than most SF. It's super ambitious, leading in and through whole lives as if we were reading a classic novel on the level of Les Miserables, giving us a very clear picture of the future worlds that are very much like our own except for a few heaping handfuls of world-changing techs. We have social commentary that would be welcome in any shorter soft-SF, mysteries that would be fine in any techno-thriller, big scoops for the expose crowd, and decades of spy intrigue. WITH the big alien threat. Any piece of this would be great, or even two. Or even three.
I need to face it. I find some parts slightly boring and others fantastic. I find myself dreading another novel-long subject I'd rather skip in favor of the other stories I love more. This is sometimes a problem with super-long novels. My attention wants to wander if it's not super fantastic. And then I keep wondering if this might have been better served with a HUGE edit. Or cut them up into a lot of side novels.
My appetite had been whetted with the big story. I just wanted to stick with the big story. And yet, most of the threads DID tie back in, eventually. It just took a novel's length of time for each to get there.
I AM very impressed with the whole book, and even more so that Hamilton keeps pulling off these HUGE works, but I'm worried that I'm bouncing off of them.
Even so, I've made a commitment to continue with Judas Unchained and I've been accepted for a Netgalley ARC for Salvation, so maybe I'll just grit my teeth and enjoy what I do enjoy in them. There's plenty to point at. :)
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