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If at First . . .

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,252 ratings  ·  78 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 June 20th 2011 by Del Rey (first published February 2007)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  1,252 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Looks like Mr. Hamilton is as good in writing short stories as he is in creating epic space operas.

This particular one is a detective / time travel mix story.
Detective Lanson takes in custody a stalker of one of the most riches men in universe. But when the stalker' story begins to unfold, he finds himself on his side and starts to investigate the so-called victim. What he discovers will change his life forever...

JoAnn Jordan
Jun 25, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A time-travel short story with a jab at the end. I've never read anything by this author, but the story-telling was solid and characters were believable.
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
Apr 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
“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
Beverly Warembourg
Jun 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Ted Cross
Jun 15, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm not used to reading short stories in Kindle form, so it felt way too short...though of course it is meant to be short. It's sort of a cute play on the standard time travel story. Not badly written, but not too deep either.
Walter E. Norton
Aug 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
The book ,as delivered to me is a copy of the first book of the Mandel files. That is not as advertised . The story does not match the description of the book

Somehow I was sent the wrong book (short story) and, as I already own theMandel files book I would like to see this problem rectified . Thank you. W. Norton
shannon  Stubbs
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not bad

Not bad for a short story. What would you do if you were able to time travel? Pass off hit songs from the future as your own? Gene therapy really early? Faster computers?
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Okay short story about time travel.
mad mags
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
A Crime Story with a Twist

When tech genius Marcus Orthew’s Richmond research center is broken into by longtime stalker Toby Jensen, the case lands on the desk of Metropolitan Police Chief Detective David Lanson. Long since disillusioned by his job – which seems to be little more than filling out paperwork and verifying insurance claims – the Jensen case promises to be a career-changer. Literally.

In the interrogation room, Jensen makes some rather outlandish claims. Chief among them: that his bo
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-i-read
Maybe I should take a break from reading short stories cause as of late all the ones I read make me frustrated because they aren't longer. But maybe that's the gimmick. I read an interesting short story and it makes me wanna go on to read more by said author and the same has happened with If At First by Peter F. Hamilton.

This story is told from the POV of David Lanson, a Detective who for all tense and purposes seems to be going through the motions, unfulfilled with his current situation when he
A Reader's Heaven
Short stories are interesting creatures - they can be either spot on or a long way off the mark. Strangely, this one was neither.

It starts with Detective David Lanson investigating a break-in at the home of tech-guru Marcus Orthew. The bring in the suspect who admits the crime, claiming he was looking for a time machine. Slowly but surely, the detective believes the story and is accidentally sent back in time...where the story really finishes nicely.

The problem for me, and why I didn't rate it h
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
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a good time travel short story. This is an excellent attempt by Hamilton at exploring the many-worlds interpretation of the relationship between quantum mechanics and general relativity espoused by Roger Penrose. Neal Stephenson has eloquently laid out other possibilities of Penrose's interpretation in his amazing Anathem (many-worlds coexisting) and more recently in D.O.D.O. (wavefunction collapse), though he had to bring in magic to explain the latter. This was an interesting explorat ...more
Oct 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 26, 2011 rated it liked it
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.

Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, 2011, short-story
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.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
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.
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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...
Jul 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, time-travel, noir

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.
Richard Beers
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
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...?
Dec 13, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
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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.

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