The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
Pandora's Star is the next offering from one of the UK's best modern sci-fi writers, Peter F. Hamilton, the same author who brought us The Reality Dysfunction.
Very aptly named, as what is released in this book is very much like one of the plagues that the mythical Pandora's box is purported to contain.
Set in the "not too" distant future, humankind has spread out amongst the stars courtesy of Wormholes. "True" death has been almost eradicated thanks to modern science, and there are no significant conflicts (read as no wars) to speak of, other than the Guardians of Selfhood (a cult that believe humankind is being manipulated by a sinister Alien called the Starflyer).
The Confederation is governed by a senate and a duly elected president, and this futuristic universe seems terribly similar to our own, where terrorist organisations "fight" for their ideals, corporations and families run whole planets and the normal person on the side of the road lives an insignificant life.
The story is about how a down on his luck astronomer (Dudley Bose) witnesses the complete envelopment of 2 star systems. This of course piques the curiosity of the human race, and the administration decides to investigate why these systems appeared to be shielded from the rest of the Universe. Are the shields defensive, or are they to keep something in? Due to the distances involved, wormholes can't be used and hence a star ship needs to be built (the first in almost 400 years). The obvious choice for the captaincy is the last man to fly a space ship, Wilson Kime.
We are then taken on a very long and detailed ride through the authors very active imagination, culminating in what I thought was a satisfactory ending to the first book in this series.
While the story is of epic proportions, I did feel that the book was maybe a bit too detailed and at times was a bit frustrated at the lack of action. I was very impressed with Inspector Paula Myo, who is incapable of allowing justice to be subverted. On of the problems, is that she is just one of a myriad of characters to keep track of, which is another thing that I struggled with for most of the book. The story does start to converge towards the end and looks like it is building to a thrilling conclusion in the 2nd book, Judas Unchained (949 pages).
I read the e-book which is $6.99 from amazon.com, but must warn you that this is a bit hard on the eyes. The print version can be found on Amazon.co.uk for 10 quid second hand or for around 23 quid for a new one and is around 896 pages.
If you are not a dedicated sci-fi fan, or find that you are easily distracted, then this book is not for you. For all those of you who enjoy a grand space opera, then you need to read this.
P.S. It was quite refreshing to notice Hamilton's "Britishness" which he subtly established by occasionally mentioning the Confederation cup (imagine the UEFA Champions league on a galactic scale).