Print Story Mini Book Review: Pandora's Star
By cam (Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 04:59:11 AM EST) (all tags)
The short: A book of 950 pages should be wrapped up and completed, it wasn't.


Peter F. Hamilton: Pandora's Star. Don't know the author, and haven't read any of his books. I chose it as a speculator at the local mall while wanting something sci-fi to read. The cover has a pretty awesome oil painting of a space ship on the cover. Money shot - and reason for purchase.

The Tech

Awesome tech in this. Several technological innovations drive the society.

  • Human rejuvenation. Humanity is essentially immortal. Murders are pretty much unknown, as people can just load their memories up into a new body which is grown for them.
  • Wormholes. These can carry matter including humans, trains, goods, spaceships, energy fluctuations and even nuclear missiles.
  • Unitary species. Which happens to be instantaneously warlike as it can only view the universe in a unitary manner ie one species, one universe, hence no room for others.

The best part of this book was how the wormholes were used for warfare by the unitary species. There was some very cool passages which described how the unitary species opened up huge numbers of workholes directly over targets and then sent nuclear missiles through.

Others contained descriptions of how Faster than Light drives were used to confuse the creation of wormholes. In another spate of warfare, energy pulses were sent up the unitary species wormholes to destroy the generators powering the wormholes.

In a final case, a human spaceship suicided up a wormhole and destroyed a significant amount of the unitary species capability. Suicide is not a big deal when you can grow a new body and have your memories inserted into with only the loss of a few minutes of contiguous memory.

The Good

The Alien species in the book are strong and have different twists to previous sci-fi stereotypes of aliens. It was good to see that some aliens did not mirror the human experience of social and group behaviour.

  • Silfen. Interesting take on a species whose main talent seems to be inter-planetary and (muddled) time travel. Ozzie's trek in discovering their way of life is a worthwhile thread in the book.
  • High Angel. Probably the most interesting species in the book. It is a kind of mixed sociologist and biologist.

The Bad

  • Car manufacturers did not suffer any economic darwinism between 2005 and 2380. Ford, Chevrolet, Ferrari etc all still exist in car transportation.
  • Every woman's clothing was described in great detail with much tanned skin, long legs and cleavage. Men's clothing was not mentioned.
  • Ozzie's trek along with Silfen paths did not wrap up. This was dreadful. It was obvious he had become a key as he worked out how to communicate with one of the unitary species, but his thread suffered a discworld type ending with a to be continued. Bad, bad, bad.
  • StarFlyer was fingered as the bad guy, but, another to be continued was given. In 950 pages, the book should complete itself, not introduce a new plot point to the reader after that much slog.
  • Paula Myo's court case was an utter waste of time. Worse it had a Matlock type leap in which the defendant confessed while giving evidence. It was a bullshit case, with a plot leap in extracting the confession that defied the suspension of disbelief. This was the worst part of the book.

Heavy middle sections. The weight of the book is wrong, it got me to focus on the Dyson Spheres as the main component of the book, but it is really a conspiracy (thriller?) book with the Dyson Spheres as just one event that is used to display the level of conspiracy.

The book was also heavy in some places and too light in others. This doesn't make it a bad book, just a little unbalanced. The political dialogue was Beverly Hills 90210-ish. There was also too many characters. I would forget who was who at times, and ones that had big roles in the beginning dropped off at the end. I have a suspicion that this was written to be a mini-series for sci-fi channel.

If the book cut much of the exposition and trimmed itself to 400 pages, this would probably be a thumping, action-filled, plot driven sci-fi ride. Especially if the book ened with the battle between humanity and the unitary species with the SI providing the intelligence that disrupts the weak point of the unitary species. The book already had the sacrifice ship which could have taken out the prime of the unitary species and fragmented them.


Not badly written, just has many directions that really lead nowhere. There are about 400 pages of expositions, that aren't really character development. They are the action style development of introduction, and often seem trite for it.

It is an OK book, I read most of it, and only skip-read the big political swathe in the middle, as well as Paula Myo's trial. But, and the big but is, the book wasn't finished, too many threads left open, and the StarFlyer was fingered as the true baddie in a leap that was intuitive to the characters but not to the reader.

Strong in tech, but poor in entwining the characters to the plot. It was also too long IMNSHO.


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Mini Book Review: Pandora's Star | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Endings by gpig (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 07:28:36 AM EST
Peter F Hamilton writes books that are much bigger than the publisher will print, so they get chopped into parts. The Night's Dawn trilogy is the best example -- the endings of the first two are more like convenient places to break, rather than actual endings.

I agree with your good and bad points, but I think I just liked it more, so I'll probably read the second part.
(,   ,') -- eep

I will probably read the second book too by cam (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 09:11:54 AM EST
Like I said it wasnt a bad book, just made me impatient and frustrated at times, especially at the end.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
That makes sense by Cloaked User (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 03:17:22 AM EST
I also can't help but wonder if essentially the same thing happened to The Naked God, but there wasn't enough left to justify a fourth book so he just wrapped it up quickly.

Whatever, the first two books might as well have "To Be Continued..." printed at the bottom of the last page. I'm glad I read them, and may read them again sometime, but I'm also very glad I had them stacked up ready to move straight to the next one.

This is not a psychotic episode. It is a cleansing moment of clarity.

[ Parent ]
Try some of his other stuff by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 07:42:06 AM EST

Mindstar Rising, A Quantum Murder and The Nano Flower are three related books set in a near future England and earth orbit. The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist and The Naked God are a trilogy that make Pandora's Star look positively lightweight, there's also a collection of short stories, A Second Chance At Eden, set in the same universe. Fallen Dragon is a standalone of normal length, Misspent Youth is another relatively short standalone, although it is referenced in Pandora's Star.

Love his stuff. by cookielover (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 11:12:59 PM EST
Neutronium Alchemist is best of that trilogy, looking forward to Judas Unleashed which I believe is out at the end of October.

[ Parent ]
I like his stuff by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #4 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 12:49:34 PM EST
But agree with your negative points. He needs a good editor.

A Question for You: by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 12:56:11 PM EST
re: Immortal humanity

Will immortality increase human conflict, due to never-ending interpersonal conflict, or will it decrease human conflict, people lose lose interest in their ancient enemies?

e.g. Imagine a world where Kruschev and Kennedy never died and held on to power for decades.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

In this book it reduced conflict by cam (2.00 / 0) #6 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 01:02:23 PM EST
as death is meaningless. However it didnt stop them all fighting/vying for political power. But they did so in non-violent ways.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
Death may be meaningless... by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #7 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 01:09:14 PM EST
but surely pain persists?

As a motivational factor, I wouldn't rule out the role of pain, unless the characters walk around with Oxycontin nebulisers.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Dunno by cam (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 01:10:27 PM EST
In the book they had genetic engineering and people over many lifetimes modified their bodies to pursue a certain profession. ie politicians made themselves taller. The interesting thing in this book was that there was no standing army or navy. Conflict was that rare.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
Well, neither does Costa Rica. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #9 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 01:18:29 PM EST
Can't see that happening on a global scale, so I suppose that means I'm a crypto-fascist counter-revolutionary.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Costa Rica != thousands of galaxies by cam (4.00 / 1) #10 Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 03:02:34 PM EST
Mini Book Review: Pandora's Star | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback