Apatt's Reviews > Pandora's Star

Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton
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Sep 05, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: top-20, sf-top-20
Read from September 05 to 23, 2011

This book is fat!

That was my first thought upon picking up this book. Still with all the recommendations I have been getting from the good people at Reddit's science fiction books community ("r/Print SF") and other reviews I wanted to give it a go. With a book this long I would end up either rating it one star for wasting so many hours of my time or five stars for entertaining me for those many hours. I think I'll be magnanimous once again and go for the 5 stars option! This is not to say the book does not contain too many calories, or is entirely free of saturated fat. I believe it could have been somewhat thinner, there are superfluous characters and scenes here and there but generally book's length turned out to be one of its strengths. Considering the book's epic scope a 200 pages volume is unimaginable. Also, beside the epic sf plot the book contain elements of several genres of fiction: murder mystery, police procedural, a bit of courtroom drama, espionage, terrorism, fanaticism, a dash of soap opera, a smidgen of romance, and of course the entire kitchen sink.

From my discussions with other sf readers there are a number of detractors who criticized Hamilton for writing two dimensional characters. I feel this is understandable but not entirely justified. There are at least three characters that I care about or find interesting, and one of them is an alien incapable of speech or hearing as it lacks any faculty to handle sound and can only communicate through images, gestures or graphics. For all that he manages to be an endearing, lovable character. That said characterization is clearly not the forte of this author, there are far too many beautiful people walking about, though this is probably due to "cellular profiling" a sort of futuristic cosmetic surgery and other modifications.

Stylistically Hamilton's prose is utilitarian rather than elegant or poetic, but this is seldom a requirement for a space opera. His straight forward style does serve the material very well for propelling the story and communicating scientific details. There is one particular scene that I think is like a virtuoso sequence, a scene where a human being is described from an alien's point of view. While reading this I could suddenly imagine how strange a human being would look to an alien.

Unlike Iain M Banks' Culture books nobody is going to call Pandora's Star a literary work of art he is not a wordsmith in the way that Banks is but I think it is unfair to dismiss his work as simply "big dumb fun adventures" as he has clearly put a lot of thoughts into the world building and intricate plots, I can imagine him plotting complicated graphs to tie the myriad plot strands together.

Unfortunately there is no closure at the end of this book the story continues and concluded in the next book Judas Unchained. Well, at least it's not a trilogy, though subsequent books are set in the same common wealth universe.

This book is phat!

(Actually at 991 pages this is one of Peter F's shorter books!)
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Reading Progress

09/06/2011 page 30
3.0%
09/13/2011 page 337
34.0% "1/3! Dance a little jig! :)"
09/15/2011 page 506
51.0% "Start moonwalking"
02/22/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Guillermo  That scene of humanity being described by an alien race is probably one of my favorite literary passages of all time! I was like, WTF??!! That being said, the throw everything in including the kitchen sink approach didn't do well for me. The Justine glider sequence towards the beginning was brutal.


Apatt Guillermo wrote: "That scene of humanity being described by an alien race is probably one of my favorite literary passages of all time! I was like, WTF??!! That being said, the throw everything in including the kitc..."

Some of it is padding, same thing with Judas Unchained, but over all they are very entertaining.


Guillermo  They really are. As imperfect as he is, I felt compelled to.read The Void (greatly enjoyed it), and will be reading Fallen Dragon and The Night's Dawn Trilogy soon.


message 4: by Apatt (last edited Jan 26, 2013 04:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Apatt I read book one of The Night's Dawn Trilogy (Reality Dysfunction) I found it much more flawed than the 2 Common Wealth books. Far too long with too many useless sex scenes! I may skip the rest and go read the Void books, or Great North Road which I got very cheap from Amazon UK.


message 5: by Guillermo (last edited Jan 26, 2013 04:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Guillermo  Really? Well I own The Reality Dysfunction so I feel I should at least give it a try, but you're not the first person that has told me to steer away from that iceberg, yet I find many people who love that series too. Hmm.

But Mr Hamilton has some pretty pointless sex scenes littered all over his work, its his modus operandi it seems. There are several in the Void Series that had me rolling my eyes and flinging the book across the room, but overall, I highly recommend you read The Dreaming Void, and see if you want to finish the trilogy. I absolutely loved it.


Apatt Guillermo wrote: "Really? Well I own The Reality Dysfunction so I feel I should at least give it a try, but you're not the first person that has told me to steer away from that iceberg, yet I find many people who l..."

Sexy scenes are OK with me if there are not too many of them and they are actually sexy. I don't think Peter F would do very well as a porn author :D

That said The Reality Dysfunction is actually quite fun if you have the patience. I am interested in reading the other 2 Night Dawn books but they are just too damn long and I imagine I'd have to wade through so many superfluous pages.

By the time he moved on to the Common Wealth book I think his writing has already improved a lot. Pandora's Star is much "tighter" than Reality Dysfunction.


Guillermo  Oh, I have no problem with sex scenes either, but I'm not a fan of them getting in the way of the story, which Hamilton unfortunatly seems to do quite a bit.

Unfortunately, out of all the sci fi authors I read, none has given me more practice in the "skimming" skill set than Hamilton. But I agree that Judas Unchained is alot tighter. You'll find The Dreaming Void to be even tighter than that. He seems to regress a bit with The Temporal Void, but comes back to produce what is in my opinion his greatest work in The Evolutionary Void.

Give it a shot someday, I'd be curious to see what you think.


Apatt Guillermo wrote: "Give it a shot someday, I'd be curious to see what you think."

Definitely, lots of PFH. in my reading future. Cheers! :)


Guillermo  Cheers to you and PFH!:)


message 10: by Denis (last edited Mar 22, 2015 08:10PM) (new)

Denis Great review. I was intimidated by the shear size of this author's books, you make it seem worth it.

And thanks for informing me of the 'Reddit's science fiction books community' I was not aware there was such a thing.


Apatt Denis wrote: "Great review. I was intimidated by the shear size of this one, you make it seem worth it.

And thanks for informing me of the 'Reddit's science fiction books community' I was not aware there was s..."


Thanks Denis! I wrote this review in 2011, I have read 5 other Hamiltons since. They are easy to read, fast paced, full of cool aliens and techs, not much in term of themes and subtexts, just sheer entertainment!


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