EPS Review #185 - Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained

Pandora's Star, Pan, 2004, 1144pp, and Judas Unchained, Pan, 2006, 1235pp. by Peter Hamilton,

My friends Jon and Mitch said it was safe to return to Mr Hamilton, because these books actually have a satisfactory ending, unlike some previous ones. And Jon lives near the author.

Indeed this is good, solid science fiction, all 2,379 pages of it. But don't worry, I have advice on how to lose a lot of the worst bits without needing an editor. Skip all the dialogue. And skip all the social scenes, like parties or meetings or family. They are just embarrassing, and you do not lose any plot by their omission. I almost wonder if Mr Hamilton isn't intentionally writing down to some imagined audience, who expect comic-book sex and 20th century brand names. Maybe it helps his sales. Skip it all.

This leaves some great space Odyssey. In my favorite part, Ozzie the super-rich nerd who invented wormholes treads the Silfen paths (Silfen -- your usual enigmatic super-advanced race) with a giant polychrome fronded caterpillar. I love all the imaginary worlds along the way. Qatux, who gets doped up on human memories, is pretty funny, too.

The real bad guys, or guy, Morning Light Mountain, does not appear until nearly three quarters of the way through the first book. I thought. "I am not ready for bad guys now, too late in the day". It's a measure of Hamilton's plotting and imagination that, on the contrary, these villains supercharge the story and make you eager for the next fat paperback. There they, very eventually, get what is coming to them. (Tinges of Vinge in the villain.)

John wrote: I've lost track of the star system. 4 out of 5? Out of 10?

Skip even the sex?

I replied: Not really much sex. Or maybe there was, but I skipped it.

One star    - epically bad
Two stars   - I discourage you to read this
Three stars - Read it if you like this sort of thing
Four stars  - a good job
Five stars  - really extraordinary.

That's the way I think about it.

Scott wrote: OMFG. I have been lately trying to set an upper bound of 450 pages on the books I read, figuring the any author should be able to make his case in a book of that length. I'm willing to let some authors go over budget, but not by nearly 200%. You apparently have waaaaay more patience than I do!

Jon wrote: Ah, thanks for the namecheck! I finished The Dreaming Void a while back, and now keen to get the next one (out later this year)