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Pandora's Star
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2007
If you, like me, buy books in order to immerse yourself in words different from ours, this book (and its companion volume, JUDAS UNCHAINED) are for you.
If you want non-stop action, with minimal character development, stay the heck away.
If you like to be confronted with thought-provoking ideas in your books, give this one a try.
If you are looking for a 'check your brain at the door' reading experience, look elsewhere.

The word EPIC gets tossed around routinely in sf. This book actually merits the word. Dozens of worlds, most of them lovingly described, vie with scores of characters, each with his/her own backstory. Every kind of speculative fiction is well represented here, from hard to soft with everything in between. The chief 'villain' of the piece is truly a disturbing creation--and yet Hamilton gives us a tour of the universe from its perspective (including a riveting, wondrous account of its first contact with humans) and damned if you don't feel a tad sympathetic for it even as it's slaughtering us by the millions.
There are themes writ large and small all over the place, a few laughs, a soupcon of sex, and all in all, a story so involved that a thousand pages does for a warm up. (Be aware you *need* that final installment: this is only half the story. Yes, it's slow in places...of course it is. A truly immersive experience like this pretty much has to be.
I'll be looking for more from this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2004
Like most reviewers, I have read Mr. Hamilton's previous work and after Fallen Dragon which was a good tight stand alone book, I was looking forward to his most recent offering. Yet this book conveys the absolute worst trends of Mr. Hamilton's writing style combined with Clancyitis (a disease brought to the literary world by refusal of Tom Clancy's editors to cut pages and add realistic dialogue).
The backdrop also has that form of Victorian fascism that Hamilton seems to enjoy. One where the universe would be a better place if only populated by beautiful fully fit people living an idealized version of 19th Century England. And despite the fact that there seems to be 20 different threads throughout the novel, it was hard to find one character that was easy to identify with.
The worst part, however, is that after slogging through over 750 pages the last page has the dreaded 'to be continued.' It's too bad because Mr. Hamilton has the potential to move up into the upper echelon of sci fi authors. Instead he has chosen to charge $26 for self indulgent uninspiring insipid dialogue writing and if possible has spent about 1500 pages (including the inevitable and hopefully only 1 sequal) going through the motions. For good Hamilton stick to his previous works, epsecially 'Second Chance at Eden' which contains short stories and proves he can be creative, entertaining and concise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2004
This novel is 700 pages. The fisrt 600 pages are basically people having converstaions. Almost nothing happens until the end when Humanity is attacked by the aliens. Then we find out that the novel is continued in a second book. It seems that the first 600 pages are "filler" that one can sleep through.
It seems to me that the author was required to produce a certain number of pages, regardless of whether or not he had enough of a plot.
I understand that Hamilton is considered a talented writer, but is difficult for me to understand why. I would reccommend any of Robert Sawyer's books to those who want to read excellent sci-fi.
This type of writing by authors like Hamilton, is due, in part, to the new trend among writers to leave the book unfinished so they can produce a sequel. This creates the need to artifically inflate the number of pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2004
I own and love Peter F.Hamilton's every book up to and including the Fallen Dragon. I'm very disappointed with this one. Usually I read Mr.Hamilton's books in one sleepless marathon. This one was a two week long struggle and I had no problem falling asleep. In fact falling asleep is quite easy with this book. It's full of boring filler. It seems the success of the author's earlier books enables him to bypass the editors and common sense. This book could have been great if about 300 of its 760 pages had been left out. Or it could have stayed the same size and contained the whole story and not end with a cheap, abrupt cliff-hanger.
I give one star for ruining a book that could have been great. I will not buy any additional books in this series. First the author has to prove me that he can write an honest, tight book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2008
Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained have all the romantic feel of a classic sci-fi novel seasoned with some wonderful modern ideas. Hamilton does a superb job of building a new colonial age and writing a compelling history. Interwoven stories of crime, passion, coming of age, personal discovery, conflict, crisis, environmentalism, exploitation, art, and mystery may at first seem a confusing cornucopia, but Hamilton moulds them into a captivating tale that will leave you desperate for more. Full marks awarded for this deeply satisfying tale.
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This book is Peter Hamilton's vast accounting of events in the Common Wealth in the future, year 2380. The galaxy is conquered---Humanity has spread to many distant solar systems with more H-congruous planets opening for settlement practically every day thanks to the Interstellar Space technology developed in the late 21st century by Nigel Sheldon and Oswald 'Ozzie' Isaacs.

The scope and magnitude of this book were mesmerizing---having been somewhat familiar with Hamilton's work, I knew what to expect: intricate, carefully described worlds, high-science jargon, interwoven character destinies (and lots of them!) laid out in a beautifully imagined story. I shudder to imagine how Mr. Hamilton does his pre-planning for these books as they are so complex with threads of stories linking each other, disengaging and ultimately reuniting. Hamilton is a master of the sci-fi craft, no question.

Pandora's star is the story of the Dyson Pair; two star systems in close proximity to each other but quite distant from Common Wealth-occupied space. An obscure and unknown astronomer observes the unimaginable: an entire solar system winked out in the blink of an eye. Some years past, the darkening of a second star, Dyson Beta, was observed, but the slow dimming of that star over the course of several years and its eventual disappearance was chalked up to a strange space event in distant space and did not carry the alarming urgency of this new development. For many obvious (and many not-so-obvious) reasons, the Common Wealth government is deeply concerned by this event. Where did the star go? Is this the act of aggressive aliens? What impact does this have on humanity? What exactly is going on out there??

The greatest minds, Grand-family representatives, members of Interstellar space Company, and chiefs of Common Wealth security meet to decide the course of action for determining what has happened at the Dyson Pair. An Interstellar, Fast-Than-Light space craft is developed and deployed to find out what's happening at the Dyson pair.

The book had me by the first 100 pages. Hamilton has a knack for grabbing a reader by the collar and making her keep reading. While it is true that there are literally dozens of active players in this book, with a little perseverance, the story coalesces into a vast Odyssey that had me flipping pages faster than I have in a long while. While Hamilton is known for 'waxing poetic' in his descriptions of the various Common Wealth worlds and cities etc., a reader might as well enjoy the ride and settle in, it's worth it.

Intense, intelligent writing brought characters like Paula Myo, Nigel Sheldon, Oscar Munroe, Melanie Rescorai and Many others to vivid life. I devoured this book in a week or so, and immediately ordered Judas Unchained, the gripping conclusion to the Dyson Pair. Bravo, Mr. Hamilton.
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on November 27, 2005
As the cover says ... "A large case of characters, each with his own story" ... unfortunately each of these might have made a good book but together they lack cohesion as well as a decent climax / catharsis setup that would give the reader closure at the end of the book. I would not recommend to read this unless it is 2007, all the books of the series have been released and you have the time to read a few thousand pages in one sitting.
Well admittedly there's lot's of stories but they drag on and on because Hamilton can't get into gear until about page 600 of the almost 1000 in the book, only to drop the reader in mid-story to wait for the next installment. There's also lots of characters and maybe they will be linked somehow at the end of a multithousand page epos but transitions between their story lines are often choppy and some characters occupy a lot of space that could have gone to story development. Maybe most annoying of all, the book caters to the hard sci-fi crowd but features elementary mistakes starting with the simplest of math: at 2.5 lightyears / hour it will take us 130 days to travel just over 500 lightyears?!? and showing a lack of understanding of the most basic principles of science. Pity, with a bit of decent editing this could have been a good book.
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on July 13, 2004
Let me start this by saying I've read a LOT of sci-fi and fantasy, and I've been reading it all my life. From Asimov to Dick, I've read most of the classics and even more modern sci-fi.
This, my friends, is quite possibly the greatest sci-fi novel I have ever read.
Grand in scale, meticulous in detail, and filled with compelling, believable, and likable characters, Pandora's Star is an epic in modern sci-fi, especially in the "space opera" subset of the genre.
Though the sci-fi part of this book is fantastic (and, in Hamilton's world, well though-out and detailed), it is the characters and the links they have to each other that make it grab you and pull you in--once you pick this book up, it'll be difficult to put it down.
The story is complelling and deceptive--what you think is true isn't, and with each new peice of the puzzle a new answer will seem to show itself, only to be cast in doubt by the next clue. This is not only a masterpiece of sci-fi, it stands out with the best mystery novels as well.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with the slightest interest in sci-fi--you won't regret it, and the price of the hardcover is well worth it.
I wait anxiously for the sequel, Judas Unchained. Too bad Pandora's Star was published only this year, we might have to wait a while.
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on June 30, 2004
The Commonwealth has expanded through the galaxy via a network of planet-anchored wormholes. It's a golden age of man where rejuvenation treatments allow near-immortality, the next planet is just a train ride away, and alien contacts have been friendly. When an astronomer makes a startling discovery about two distant stars, a wormhole driven spacecraft is designed and built in order to investigate the mystery. The intrepid explorers unlock a terrible menace that could tear apart the Commonwealth. As the outside threat looms, a cult called the Guardians of Selfhood fights within the Commonwealth because they believe a sinister, hidden alien has taken over the government.
Pandora's Star definitely contains interesting ideas and careful, complex world building. Hamilton doesn't just trot out cool technologies, but also explores how they might affect society. He takes us on a sprawling journey to dozens of worlds using a large cast of characters. At first, the book feels more like a leisurely travelogue through Hamilton's new universe instead of a novel. Rambling around these planets, ideas, and technologies is a lot of fun, but it can also get a bit tiresome if you can't feel the plot going anywhere. However, Pandora's Star grows more compelling as the multiple plot threads start to merge and the action picks up. Hopefully the pace won't slow down again in the sequel.
I really enjoyed exploring Hamilton's new universe - he has some fascinating concepts and he excels at building up an intricate society and then smashing it apart. I'm looking forward to the next installment of this space opera, but the first book would have benefited from better pacing.
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on June 25, 2004
Some impatient readers might find that this book has too many plots that might seem confusing .
Actually Hamilton is using the now classical multiple viewpoint narrative style and the structure is rather simple .
There are 4 main threads interacting with each other in a very logical way .
1)Oozie & the Silfen
Here the idea is to oppose 2 very different views of the future society .
The industrious Mankind and the mysterious Silfen .
As the Mankind is somewhere half way between the Prime Allien and the Silfen , one can bet that the Silfen will hold the clue to the solution of the problem posed by the Allien .
2)Paula Mayo & Bradley Johansson
That is the action/detective story part .
Both are loners with very extreme convictions that seem to oppose them in everything .
However as in every good book , things will become very different than what they seem .
This apparently independent plot will connect to the main plot via the Starflyer .
3)Mark&his family
That is to provide the simple man of the street's point of view .
It doesn't seem to have any other role than to simply observe and describe .
Personnaly I found this part most boring but it might be that Hamilton needs Mark because he could be the "right man at the right place" in the next installement .
4)The Great Families
That is necessary to put in place the political background of a Galactic Mankind with all it entails in matters of intrigue , sex and power games .
Nothing of that is absolutely necessary for the story but to show a play , you need a stage , don't you ?
All in all an entertaining , solid and very consistent read .
Even if there is nothing that is really original (perhaps the Silfen ?) , it provides a good read .
Special kudos for the research in general relativity .
Indeed the general relativity provides for the existence of wormholes but unfortunately if they exist , they are extremely unstable .
As K.Thorne has proven , to keep a wormhole stable , an "exotic matter" (negative energy) is necessary .
And we find indeed exotic matter in the Hamilton's wormholes :)
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