Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey /Ballantine/ Random House HCVR: ISBN 0345461622 PubDate: 03/01/04
Review by Jeffrey J. Lyons
768 pgs. List price $ 26.95
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In the 24th century humanity has colonized 600 worlds and formed the Intersolar Commonwealth. Through wormhole technology humans can easily traverse those worlds allowing for general harmony and utopia. Yet it is the curiosity of the human race that inadvertently unleashes a force that may use that same technology to destroy all of humanity. This is the universe of Pandora’s Star, the newest epic novel from Peter F. Hamilton.
It begins when noted astronomer Dudley Bose sees a distant star vanish seemingly without a trace in an area known as Dyson's Pair. The Commonwealth orders that the faster-than-light starship Second Chance be sent to determine if this poses a threat and Bose becomes a part of this crew much to the distaste of its commander Wilson Kime. They discover a planet that appears to be imprisoned by a force field. Almost immediately after the Second Chance arrives, the force field breaks, setting in motion an incredible alien army whose mission is to wipe out all humanity.
This angers but does not surprise Bradley Johannson, the leader of the cult “Guardians of Selfhood,” who has insisted all along that an insidious, inhuman force is manipulating human history. The Commonwealth considers Johannson to be a crackpot and a terrorist. Genetically bred detective Paula Myo has solved every case she has ever had except the terrorist attack on Abadan Station which she knows Johannson instigated and she cannot rest until he is put away.
A third subplot involves Ozzie Isaac, one of the creators of wormhole technology. While other people from his generation have gone on to become the movers and shakers of the Commonwealth, he has chosen to drop out of society and follow the Silfen Paths, which are a kind of alien wormhole technology different from that used elsewhere.
Hamilton has created a universe that thanks to life rejuvenation technology; humans can live for hundreds of years. E-butlers, which are a kind of universal wide personal Internet connection, can provide them with any and all information at a millisecond’s notice. The media influence is everywhere and an integral part of every political decision.
Hamilton weaves an imaginative and stunning tale of the perfect future threatened. The worlds that he creates have their own individuality. The book is filled with dozens of characters that have real histories, desires, emotions, and purpose. The story built to a thrilling climax with just enough resolution to satisfy but to make me anxious to see where it goes from here when the saga continues.
Hamilton has written a book of epic proportions not unlike Frank Herbert’s Dune or Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. This 768-page novel is part one of “The Commonwealth Saga,” which will conclude in Judas Unchained to be published in 2005.