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Pandora's Star (Commonwealth Saga, #1)
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message 1: by Anna (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) Greetings Space Opera Fans!

This one has been on a lot of our TBR lists for quite some time, so it's time to finally crack the spine of a doorstopper or fire up the e-readers to read Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton.

Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton by Peter F. Hamilton .

Earth AD 2329: Humanity has colonized over four hundred planets, all interlinked by wormholes. For the first time in mankind's history there is peace.

Then a star over a thousand light years away suddenly vanishes, imprisoned inside a force field of immense size.

Only a faster-than-light starship, captained by ex-NASA astronaut Wilson Kime, can reach that distance to investigate.

But there was a good reason for sealing off an entire star system. And getting in may not be as difficult as stopping something from getting out . . .


And don't forget that Peter F. Hamilton previously granted our community an Awesome Author Interview about one of his other books, HERE: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

ARE YOU READING PANDORA'S STAR? Shout it out in the discussion thread below, find some Book Buddies to read along, and discuss what you think as you read your way through the story. Just remember to be kind please and use the spoiler html so you don't ruin the fun for somebody who isn't as far along.

Be epic!

Anna Erishkigal
SOF Borg Queen


Monika Kelemen | 34 comments I've read Pandora's Star and its sequel a few months ago. I really enjoy the scale of the setting and immersing myself in it. Peter F Hamilton is firmly in my tbr pile for his other series.


message 3: by Jim (last edited Jul 04, 2016 07:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim Mcclanahan (clovis-man) Read it and its sequel, Judas Unchained, a few years ago. I was actually reading the latter when I was hospitalized for a few days. I was visited by one of my pastors who saw the book on my end table and wondered if I was getting more religious suddenly. I had to explain in lengthy fashion.


message 4: by Anna (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) Jim wrote: "I was visited by one of my pastors show saw the book on my end table and wondered if I was getting more religious suddenly. I had to explain in lengthy fashion. ..."

Hah! That is funny :-)


Michael (mformichelli) | 4 comments I read this a few years ago as well. I rank it and it sequel as some of the best space opera out there. The world is expansive and realistic in terms of what might be in our future. I loved the story as well. Great choice for the month!


Fiannawolf | 163 comments I like big books and I cannot lie. I am a sucker for sprawling Space Operas.


Marcus | 4 comments Excellent books in this duology. Epic in every sense of the word. Those of you who haven't read this series yet are in for a treat


MadProfessah (madprofesssah) | 136 comments Agree with Michael. This duology is the pinnacle of space opera.


message 9: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (soitgoes815) This book has been on my TBR list for a while. I'm glad that so many people here love it. I just hope my local library actually has a copy.


Leonie (leonierogers) | 340 comments I was only introduced to Peter F Hamilton recently, and I've loved this series. So complex, so interesting, and full of fascinating characters.


message 11: by Ally (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ally | 97 comments This duology is the definition of (classic) space opera. The stories (as there are more than one) are epic, the world building complex, detailed and believable. You juste want to live in this future.
I think it's his best work.


message 12: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new) - added it

Teresa Carrigan | 2655 comments Mod
I have started reading it. So far I don't care for the characters. What chapter starts the good stuff?


message 13: by Rion (last edited Jul 10, 2016 11:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rion  (orion1) | 108 comments @Teresa: The book starts slow mostly because it's jam packed with exposition and world building. I was put off at first as well by how the story introduced so many characters and sub plots while continually switching between them all. But here in lies the greatness. It's able to solve this initial inhibitor by continually and thoroughly developing each subplot and character until the climax. If you continue reading, the characters should grow on you as they are further developed through the use of flashback. This book must have been a monster to write and is a monumental work of focus and editing in the Space Opera genre that I know of. Upon completion I couldn't help but admire how incredibly hard it must have been to weave this complex universe together with so many characters and different settings and plots, while somehow creating an ending that satisfied them all. Not the most original or inventive in the genre, but certainly a well executed fiction.


Aqiul Colombowala | 5 comments The Commonwealth Saga is one of the best space operas I have ever read. The scope and scale of the books is astounding. If you're the type who loves worldbuilding and characters whose backstories have backstories then you will love these books.

Of course the drawback is that in an almost 900 page book, the real action starts way down the line and the opening can be quite a bit slow.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 97 comments I'm just over 300 pages in and the various stories and plots are starting to evolve. I found a useful resource is this Wiki page listing all the main characters.
http://peterfhamilton.wikia.com/wiki/...

Hamilton's style reminds me of Iain M Banks somewhat.


Fiannawolf | 163 comments Now that is a useful link. :D


MadProfessah (madprofesssah) | 136 comments Yes they are definitely related but I think Peter Hamilton is superior to Banks.


Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 114 comments MadProfessah wrote: "Yes they are definitely related but I think Peter Hamilton is superior to Banks."

Banks, I've found, tended to be a looser writer--plots less tightly wound, complexity not as much present, seemed to aim at more a middle-of-the-road audience--while Hamilton embraces more tight (or at least more involved) plots, much more complexity, and his books seem better organized...except that he's wont to go in for a LOT of extraneous exposition and can often be more tangential, which is at odds of his overall organization.

Hard for me to explain, but most of Banks's works feel somewhat loose to me, while Hamilton's are dense.

Banks put more humor in his, I think. Hamilton's are pretty uncompromisingly intense. Both of their worlds can be brutal, but Banks tempered his with less seriousness and (speaking Culture novels here) with a society that at least pretends in large part to be kinder and gentler. Hamilton sticks a bit more to the hardball playing politics of the real world.

Moral ambiguity enters into both of their works, but Banks's Culture novels enshrine that moral ambiguity into the structure of the society (and the human/alien/AI entities who serve that part of society), while Hamilton puts moral ambiguity into the characters themselves.

Pardon me waxing philosophic. And, of course, YMMV.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 97 comments Did anyone else finish Pandora's Star and continue on to Judas Unchained?


Leonie (leonierogers) | 340 comments I've read both, and really enjoyed Judas Unchained.


Marcin | 2 comments I also read both and I say it's one of the best space operas I've ever read. The best part for me was Ozzie's trip. Amazing stuff.


Nefeli (galacticon) | 9 comments I read Pandora's Star a few weeks ago and found it amazingly immersive. I can't wait to get my hands on Judas Unchained to see how the plot and subplots evolve. From the comments in this thread and the reviews I think it's worth reading the sequel too.


message 23: by Dan (new)

Dan | 2 comments I read both books a few years ago, really enjoyed them, I do like Peter Hamilton, definitely amongst my favourite Space Opera authors. For me he ticks all the boxes for character development, world building and interesting plots.


Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 303 comments I'm reading this now (after finding both books at a second-hand stall at a prog-rock music festival!). Really enjoying it so far, though the vast cast of characters is a little bewildering.


Julie Craig-muller | 4 comments Anna wrote: "Greetings Space Opera Fans!

This one has been on a lot of our TBR lists for quite some time, so it's time to finally crack the spine of a doorstopper or fire up the e-readers to read [book:Pandora..."


I read this book and the sequel a few years ago. Really good. Excellent space opera!


message 26: by Susie (new) - rated it 1 star

Susie (goodreadscomart2song) | 8 comments So, am i the only one who has read this book and NOT enjoyed it? I found it incredibly hard to slog through. (So. Much. Detail.) Character development is bad or non existent. Disconnected, choppy story line. And, this is NOT what I call space opera. This is Sci-fi. I muscled through to the end only to find out that after nearly 1000 pages the author couldnt even come up with some sort of satisfying ending. Argh!


message 27: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new) - added it

Teresa Carrigan | 2655 comments Mod
I gave up about halfway through, myself.


message 28: by Susie (new) - rated it 1 star

Susie (goodreadscomart2song) | 8 comments Teresa wrote: "I gave up about halfway through, myself."

I wanted to but kept going. It has to be a REALLY bad book for me to not finish. I've had a couple that i couldn't get through though.


message 29: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Goldin (stephengoldin) | 114 comments For years I've heard people raving about how great Hamilton was, and I was beginning to think I was the only person in the world immune to his talents. I've tried several different of his titles, and just couldn't get into them. He's a decent writer, but I just can't care about the stories he tells.

I've come to realize that I have less and less time to read good books, and there's so many good ones out there. If one can't grab me after a sufficient time, I'll just put it aside and try with another.


Royce Sears (royce_sears) | 7 comments I finished Pandora's Star, but it was a long, hard slog. The seemingly endless exposition was hard to get through, but the worst thing for me was the lack of relatable, interesting characters. It was definitely hard to make it all the way through when there was only one character that I was even remotely interested in.


MadProfessah (madprofesssah) | 136 comments Sorry you didn't like it. I find Hamilton's books incredibly rewarding. I agree that in some of his earlier works he does go a bit heavy on the exposition. But, really, no characters you like in PANDORA'S STAR? What about Paula Myo? Or Mellanie? I think Ozzie and Nigel are pretty great as well.

Oh well not everything is for everyone. Even books with averages well over 4.25 and thousands of ratings still get DNF and 1-stars.


Royce Sears (royce_sears) | 7 comments I found Ozzie's character and his story arc interesting-- he was the one character I was referring to. I found Paula's character to be dreadfully static and one dimensional. We really discover nothing interesting about her aside from her astounding powers of deductive reasoning. I found Mellanie's character and story arc somewhat hard to believe because of the special treatment of the SI. Out of all the people on all the inhabited worlds, the SI choose to use her as a puppet because she prays to her grandfather's spirit within the AI? How many other people did exactly the same thing over the course of time? Why now?

The Silfen were an interesting aspect and the organic-borg were cool, but overall, a story needs to have those relatable characters to drive the reader's interest and curiosity. But, as with anything in the world of literature, it's all subjective and just because it wasn't my cup of tea it doesn't mean it's not a good book.


message 33: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new) - added it

Teresa Carrigan | 2655 comments Mod
I have found that books I enjoyed 20 years ago aren't always books that I enjoy now. What I consider a relatable character has changed, and my patience for a lot of things is no longer there. I give up on a lot of books these days. Sometimes I go back and finish them but mostly not. When I was younger and could only afford to spend so much per month on books, if I bought a book I finished it! (But not all library books were finished)


Jonathan Bergeron (scifi_jon) | 370 comments I've read Pandora's Star and Great North Road (I attempted Judas Unchained). Out of every single book I've ever read, I can only think of one book I found less interesting.

To me, the ONLY interesting thing about PFH's books is how they were ever published and how anyone can say they enjoy them.


message 35: by Susie (new) - rated it 1 star

Susie (goodreadscomart2song) | 8 comments Royce wrote: "I found Ozzie's character and his story arc interesting-- he was the one character I was referring to. I found Paula's character to be dreadfully static and one dimensional. We really discover noth..."

I think all the things you just said are why i managed to FINISH the book. There was a lot of potential but so many wasted words.


message 36: by Susie (new) - rated it 1 star

Susie (goodreadscomart2song) | 8 comments Thanks everybody. This has been an interesting thread. And leaves me feeling a bit better about my disappointment in this book. What it boils down to is that this is not my kind of book and i think i will be ok with leaving characters falling off a cliff.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 97 comments I can tolerate simplistic characters as long as there is a story. But, I can't stand it the other way around, really detailed characters with no story. They read like soap operas or reality TV to me.


Royce Sears (royce_sears) | 7 comments Great point AndrewP, it really does need to be a good mixture, in my opinion. You can have the most interesting and relatable characters in the world, but if the story isn't there then it's just dull, especially in the world of Science Fiction. Many SciFi readers crave the deeper meanings and the hidden mysteries that are revealed as the story unfolds through characters who are interesting and relatable.


Conal (conalo) | 143 comments It is story where Hamilton shines in this series, though the I also enjoyed the characters portrayed here as well. I am sure that I have not read any other SF books that used this many science fiction tropes melded into a story universe than were used (very well in my opinion) in the Commonwealth saga. As mentioned by others, you do have to read Judas Unchained along with Pandora's Star to get the whole story (this is over 2K pages so it is a commitment).


MadProfessah (madprofesssah) | 136 comments Great North Road is excellent fun if you like multiple genres (it combines thriller, suspense, space opera, police procedural and murder mystery all in one). And it's only one very large volume instead of two.

It's what I'd recommend to People who want to start reading Hamilton's work.

As I said before, not everything is for everyone. But clearly MOST people who try Hamilton's work enjoy it or his average ratings wouldn't be so high. What's the point of deprecating his work here?


message 41: by Susie (new) - rated it 1 star

Susie (goodreadscomart2song) | 8 comments MadProfessah wrote: "Great North Road is excellent fun if you like multiple genres (it combines thriller, suspense, space opera, police procedural and murder mystery all in one). And it's only one very large volume ins..."

Isn't that sort of contradictory thinking? You assume that most people like his work because of the ratings, then ask what the point is of having a less than stellar opinion of it and saying so in this forum.


MadProfessah (madprofesssah) | 136 comments What's the contradiction? Is there something contradictory about assuming high average ratings correlate to most people liking a book?


message 43: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim (tpc5) | 13 comments Read it, loved it, recommend it.

Also loved the Ian M Banks books, but PFH is different.

I enjoy long, complex, drawn out stories; so these books are bang on point for me.


message 44: by Micah (last edited Dec 21, 2016 07:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 114 comments Royce wrote: "...but overall, a story needs to have those relatable characters to drive the reader's interest and curiosity..."

I'm not sure I agree--it depends on what you mean by "relatable."

If by that you mean characters that echo your own personality, life, or philosophic outlook (or characters who represent some ideal to which you aspire, or who you would like to fantasize yourself being IRL), then I don't agree at all. Or rather, I'd say that SOME readers need that kind of relatability (I imagine readers of Romance largely fall into this group), but others definitely do not. I for one really like characters who are in no way relatable to my experience of life.

For example, I've played a lot of Role Playing Games in the past where I've chosen character diametrically opposed to my outlook on life--playing a power hungry maniacal villain, a petty thief, a wealthy pompous b*stard, a Nazi collaborator and traitor ... characters whom I would in no like to resemble: stepping outside my bounds specifically to experience unrelatability.

Similarly, when reading, it's often nice to be able to see the world from an alien perspective (not necessarily speaking about space aliens). Characters who are totally amoral, obsessively devoted to a cause to the detriment of personal relationships, irrationally compulsive, or whatever ... it makes for a good change.

However, if by "relatable" you mean you mean engaging or compelling in some way (whether they are morally repugnant or not), then I somewhat agree.

I say somewhat because I can't quite square the characters of, say, Kurt Vonnegut with any of the above. His characters tend to be people who are more observers than participants. They usually don't drive the action but react to it. They're like pieces of cork set adrift on the river of life, battered this way and that by forces beyond their control, barely able to stay afloat. And I like that, even though I don't particularly relate to them personally, nor do I find them all that compelling.


Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 114 comments MadProfessah wrote: "Great North Road is excellent fun if you like multiple genres (it combines thriller, suspense, space opera, police procedural and murder mystery all in one). And it's only one very large volume ins..."

That's still a very long book and one filled with quite a lot of expository excess. Hamilton is always like that. Perhaps the least gratuitously expository of his books (that I've read) was Fallen Dragon, a standalone novel that IIRC was fairly mild in its excess.

(But then, let's face it, ANYTHING by Hamilton is less expository than his Night's Dawn "trilogy" which I originally saw published as 6 paperbacks! It was the first thing I read by him and ... wow, move over Tad Williams, that thing was really bloated--actually I take that back, Tad, you still rule the bloat factor! Still found the core story to be pretty great, though.)


Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 114 comments Conal wrote: "It is story where Hamilton shines in this series..."

Story and world creation. I always find Hamilton's worlds to be really inventive and deeply thought out. Complexity being the word.

I admire him more than Banks for that because Hamilton has done a lot more of it. Sure, his Commonwealth series has gone on far too long, but he's done a fair amount of books in other worlds. That takes a lot of effort if you're going to flesh them out properly.


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