If at First . . . (Short Story)
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If at First . . . (Short Story)

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  420 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Peter F. Hamilton has proven himself a modern master of epic space opera, carrying the tradition of far-future empire building begun by Heinlein and Asimov into the new millennium. But Hamilton is also a master of the short story, and when he tackles one of science fiction’s most enduring themes—time travel—the result is as provocative as it is entertaining. It starts in 2...more
Kindle Edition, 32 pages
Published (first published 2007)
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Hamilton does a fine job here of balancing the detective procedural with that of a futurist time travel tale, and while I have not yet read his Mandel series (Mindstar Rising etc.), I have read Great North Road, and this has the feel of that sub-genre of Sf. David Lanson is chief detective of the Richmond Metropolitan Police Department when he gets involved in a peculiar case involving Toby Jenson, who is being held for the break- in of media /computer mogul Marcus Orthew's research center, "Ort...more
First - this is primarily a marketing device for one of Hamilton's other books, Mindstar Rising, an excerpt from which constitutes about 2/3 of the book.

If at First
Gene Wolfe introduces one of his stories (in The Best of Gene Wolfe) by suggesting that aspiring authors rewrite it in their own words. I haven't read the The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction that this Hamilton story is drawn from, but I hope that rewriting stories by SF masters is its theme. The story is decent, but it is very rem...more
“Peter F. Hamilton has proven himself a modern master of epic space opera, carrying the tradition of far-future empire building begun by Heinlein and Asimov into the new millennium. But Hamilton is also a master of the short story, and when he tackles one of science fiction's most enduring themes--time travel--the result is as provocative as it is entertaining.”

I started off the new year with a short story, so my book challenge page doesn't look so empty. Alternate realities are always fun, but...more
This is really good story with wry twists.

David Lanson is an experienced detective with good instincts. When he and his team arrest Toby Jenson...well they think he's a nut job. But Lanson knows when someone is lying. And Jenson isn't - despite the wild story.

This is a very cool story full of irony and **** SPOILER BELOW ****

time travel.
JoAnn Jordan
This short story is interesting, but not very well developed. Perhaps the author should have taken the story further.

I liked what there was, but did not think it at all complete. If you like short stories maybe you would find it interesting.
Beverly Warembourg
WAY TOO SHORT!!!!!! Granted it's a short story, but it was only 24% of the whole book, the other 76% was the beginning of one of his other stories. Definitely could have been longer, but it was still good. Just glad it was free.
Dayle Lynne
"If at First . . . " only takes up about 25% of the free download. The other 75% is an excerpt from an unrelated novel (which I did not read because if I liked it then I'd have to buy the full book and I still have trouble spending $10 on a book without pages).

I love time travel stories when they're done well (and they can so easily be awful), and I did really enjoy this one.

My biggest issue with the story was the lack of proper editing. It seemed like the writer had no concept of how to use com...more
Rita Monticelli
Scroll down for the English version.

Una chicca

Va detto che si tratta di un raccontino davvero piccolo. L’intero ebook nasce come strumento promozionale e il racconto ne occupa solo un terzo. L’avevo scaricato quando era gratuito. Trovo che farlo pagare, nonostante il valore dell’autore, non sia onesto. Eppure in questo momento è a pagamento, cosa che mi lascia perplessa.
A parte ciò, ci troviamo di fronte a un raccontino davvero geniale sulla possibilità di conoscere il futuro e su come questo po...more
I enjoyed this. Even if I'm only writing this review to show up a friend-that I will Write one when I want(I capitalized that because she's been having troubles with that very word). It's depressing, but funny, in the way its depressing. I liked the quirks he threw in there....... thinking back It kinda tells the reader to be prepared. Even if it is to jump into a wormhole-ish entity.
A refreshing take on the time travel story. The only reason this story did not get five stars from me is because it just wasn't long enough!

The main character (and narrator) of this short story is David Lanson, who is an officer with the Metropolitan Police department of the city of Richmond. He and his team of detectives are called in to investigate a breakin at one of the worlds largest computer companies. The perpetrator of the breakin tells David and crew a very fanciful tale; the head of t...more
I just love the short story format for some authors. It lets a guy like Peter F. Hamilton do some things that they really can't do in a novel format.

This one has a great "hook" to bring the reader into things quickly. It is a very short little read and is quite well done.
Short but fun. Made me wish for a full length sequel.
A very nice short story from one of my favourite authors. Set in the present it starts with a police investigation of an assumed psychopath. During the questioning the accused states that his target was building a time machine with which he'll send his knowledge back in time to when he was younger. Giving the detective some bread crumbs, he follows up the investigation and realises that the accused might be onto something.

Very nice plot and greatly executed. An extremely satisfying read.
An interesting take on time travel. I personally enjoyed how the traveller was able to accomplish what he did. The writing style seemed as short and clipped as the story itself. I very much would like to know more about the characters, and the predicament the main character finds himself in at the end. 4 stars with understanding of not including the disclaimer that this story is dwarfed by the first two chapters of another novel Del Rey is trying to promote.
I think they should tell it as it is. This was just a lead for his other story. They worst part was that I wanted to stop reading after the 2nd page. But I started to read a few of the reviews and decided to read the whole story. I can not say that I ever got into the story. The story telling is vague, choppy, and I felt it was done during a high school creative writting class. Mr. Hamilton thanks for wasting my time.
Cute, but forgettable.
Is it a "short story"? I guess. It's closer to an outline of what could have been a longer story. There's no great revelations here, nothing particularly interesting. I can tell that Hamilton has some skill as a reader, and this will probably serve to make me read some of his other stuff. In the end, "If at First..." just feels like promo material put out to bring interest to newer books.
Apr 06, 2012 Shae rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: dnf
I felt a bit betrayed by this book. As others pointed out, it was a lead in and free promo for a full novel. My problem: it was marketed as a short story. Not kinda a short story but mostly a lead in to a novel. *shrugs* it colored my feelings for the story. And the story was only about a fourth of the "book" *shrugs* i stopped reading after that little bit classifying this as a DNF.
Jul 04, 2011 Cheryl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cheryl by: Amazon-Free Kindle Short Story
Quick, interesting very short story that I enjoyed. Liked the little unexpected twists.

Felt a few more commas are needed in places. Had to re-read some parts to make sense of the sentence.

Originally published in The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction in 2007. IMHO, should be disclosed in the product description so I added to the GR description.

Lea  Kawaletz
Just when I started to find the story interesting, it just stopped. Only 1/4 of the book actually is the story, the rest being an excerpt for some other book he wrote. Being pissed at that (and having too much on my reading list already anyway) I didn't even bother to read the last part. Glad it was for free. I would like to see the story expanded, though.
Very short story indee :( But very good also.
Very short - only 1/4 of this is the story. The rest of the file is a preview for another book.

It started out okay - I was curious to see where the story would go. But in the end, it just fell flat for me. I know it's supposed to be short, but it just seemed like it should be leading up to something, and it didn't.
Not a bad little teaser for another novel by this author. It was extremely short but it did entertain and get me interested in the other story so I am okay with its brevity. You don't have to go out of your way to read this but at just a few pages long it wasn't a bad way to spend a few minutes.
I did not care for this story. One Goodreads comment below says this story is vague and choppy... That is exactly what I thought! It could have been a good story. This was the first thing by Hamilton I have read and I wonder if it's ow je writes everything...?
Richard Beers
It was OK. I have heard a lot of good things about Hamilton, this was tantalizing enough that I would like to read some more, but I am not in a hurry to do so, it wasn't that good. Nice premise though, would have liked a full book on that type of idea.
Interesting time travel short story... I like how he played it. You think one thing, that maybe the author wrote this a while ago or something and that the story was dated (i.e. that his vision of the future was off) but then becomes clear he wasn't...
Old concept, and similar story to others already written in the past 50 years. Information passed on for gain is what Back to the Future movie series also explored. The story could've developed better, as could the characters. The ending was too abrupt.

A very short, but entertaining read. I think this is the first story about time travel that I had no issues with. Maybe because it's a short story.

I don't remember how it got onto my Kindle, but I'm glad I read it.
I thought the story was pretty good then near the end it took a strange twist and I felt I had kind missed something along the way....like the chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie.
This is a short and to the point time travel story, presenting a somewhat different view of how one might travel through time, and what one might do with the opportunity.
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Peter F. Hamilton is a British science fiction author. He is best known for writing space opera. As of the publication of his tenth novel in 2004, his works had sold over two million copies worldwide, making him Britain's biggest-selling science fiction author.
More about Peter F. Hamilton...
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