Pandora's Star

Pandora's Star

by Peter F. Hamilton

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Overview

“An imaginative and stunning tale of the perfect future threatened . . . a book of epic proportions not unlike Frank Herbert’s Dune or Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.”—SFRevu

The year is 2380. The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars, contains more than six hundred worlds interconnected by a web of transport “tunnels” known as wormholes. At the farthest edge of the Commonwealth, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the impossible: over one thousand light-years away, a star . . . disappears. Since the location is too distant to reach by wormhole, the Second Chance, a faster-than-light starship commanded by Wilson Kime, a five-times-rejuvenated ex-NASA pilot, is dispatched to learn what has occurred and whether it represents a threat.

Opposed to the mission are the Guardians of Selfhood, led by Bradley Johansson. Shortly after the journey begins, Kime wonders if the crew of the Second Chance has been infiltrated. But soon enough he will have other worries. Halfway across the galaxy, something truly incredible is waiting: a deadly discovery whose unleashing will threaten to destroy the Commonwealth . . . and humanity itself.

“Should be high on everyone’s reading list . . . You won’t be able to put it down.”—Nancy Pearl, NPR

“Recommended . . . A large cast of characters, each with his own story, brings depth and variety to this far-future saga.”—Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345479211
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/25/2005
Series: Commonwealth Saga Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 992
Sales rank: 134,404
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.44(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Peter F. Hamilton is the author of numerous novels, including A Night Without Stars, The Abyss Beyond Dreams, Great North Road, The Evolutionary Void, The Temporal Void, The Dreaming Void, Judas Unchained, Pandora’s Star, Misspent Youth, Fallen Dragon, and the acclaimed epic Night’s Dawn trilogy (The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist, and The Naked God). He lives with his family in England.

Read an Excerpt

ONE

The star vanished from the center of the telescope’s image in less time than a single human heartbeat. There was no mistake, Dudley Bose was looking right at it when it happened. He blinked in surprise, drawing back from the eyepiece. “That’s not right,” he muttered.

He shivered slightly in reaction to the cold air around him, slapping gloved hands against his arms. His wife, Wendy, had insisted he wrap up well against the night, and he’d dutifully left the house in a thick woolen coat and sturdy hiking trousers. As always when the sun fell below Gralmond’s horizon, any warmth in the planet’s thinner-than-average atmosphere dissipated almost immediately. With the telescope housing open to the elements at two o’clock in the morning, the temperature had dropped enough to turn his every breath into a stream of gray mist.

Dudley shook the fatigue from his head, and leaned back into the eyepiece. The starfield pattern was the same—there had been no slippage in the telescope’s alignment—but Dyson Alpha was still missing. “It couldn’t be that fast,” he said.

He’d been observing the Dyson Pair for fourteen months now, searching for the first clues of the envelopment that would so dramatically alter the emission spectrum. Until tonight there had been no change to the tiny yellow speck of light twelve hundred forty light-years away from Gralmond that was Dyson Alpha.

He’d known there would be a change; it was the astronomy department at Oxford University back on Earth that had first noticed the anomoly during a routine sky scan back in 2170, two hundred and ten years ago. Since the previous scan twenty years earlier, two stars, a K-type and an M-type three years apart, had changed their emission spectrum completely to nonvisible infrared. For a few brief months the discovery had caused some excited debate among the remnants of the astronomy fraternity about how they could decay into red giants so quickly, and the extraordinary coincidence of two stellar neighbors doing so simultaneously. Then a newly settled planet fifty light-years farther out from Earth reported that the pair were still visible in their original spectrum. Working back across the distance, checking the spectrum at various distances from Earth, allowed astronomers to work out that the change to both stars had occurred over a period of approximately seven or eight years.

Given that amount of time, the nature of the change ceased to become a question of astronomy; stars of that category took a great deal longer to transform into red giants. Their emission hadn’t changed due to any natural stellar process; it was the direct result of technological intervention on the grandest possible scale.

Somebody had built a solid shell around each star. It was a feat whose scale was rivaled only by its time frame. Eight years was astonishingly swift to fabricate such a gigantic structure, and this advanced civilization had apparently built two at the same time. Even so, the concept wasn’t entirely new to the human race.

In the twenty-first century, a physicist named Freeman Dyson had postulated that the artifacts of a technologically advanced civilization would ultimately surround their star in order to utilize all of its energy. Now someone had turned his ancient hypothesis into reality. It was inevitable that the two stars would be formally christened the Dyson Pair.

Speculative papers were written after the Oxford announcement, and theoretical studies performed into how to dismantle Jovian-size planets to produce such a shell. But there was no real urgency connected to the discovery. The human race had already encountered several sentient alien species, all of them reassuringly harmless; and the Intersolar Commonwealth was expanding steadily. It would be a matter of only a few centuries until a wormhole was opened to the Dyson Pair. Any lingering questions about their construction could be answered then by the aliens themselves.

Now he’d seen that the envelopment was instantaneous, Dudley was left with a whole new set of very uncomfortable questions about the composition of the shell structure. An eight-year construction period for any solid shell that size had been assessed as remarkable, but obviously achievable. When he’d begun the observation he’d expected to note a year-by-year eclipse of the star’s light as more and more segments were produced and locked into place. This changed everything. To appear so abruptly, the shell couldn’t be solid. It had to be some kind of force field. Why would anyone surround a star with a force field?

“Are we recording?” he asked his e-butler.

“We are not,” the e-butler replied. “No electronic sensors are currently active at the telescope focus.” The voice was slightly thin, treble-boosted; a tone that had been getting worse over the last few years. Dudley suspected the OCtattoo on his ear was starting to degenerate; organic circuitry was always susceptible to antibody attack, and his was over twenty-five years old. Not that the glittery scarlet and turquoise spiral on his skin had changed. A classic spree of youthful dynamism after his last rejuvenation had made him choose a visible pattern, stylish and chic in those days. Now it was rather embarrassing for a middle-aged professor to sport around the campus. He should have had the old pattern erased and replaced it with something more discreet; but somehow he’d never gotten around to it, despite his wife’s repeated requests.

“Damnit,” Dudley grunted bitterly. But the idea of his e-butler taking the initiative had been a pretty forlorn hope. Dyson Alpha had risen only forty minutes earlier. Dudley had been setting up the observation, performing his standard final verification—an essential task, thanks to the poorly maintained mechanical systems that orientated the telescope. He never ordered the sensor activation until the checks were complete. That prissy routine might have just cost him the entire observation project.

Dudley went back for another look. The little star was still stubbornly absent in the visual spectrum. “Bring the sensors on-line now, will you please. I need to have some sort of record of tonight.”

“Recording now,” his e-butler said. “The sensors could benefit from recalibrating, the entire image is considerably short of optimum.”

“Yeah, I’ll get on to it,” Dudley replied absently. The state of the sensors was a hardware problem; one that he ought to assign to his students (all three of them). Along with a hundred other tasks, he thought wearily.

He pushed back from the telescope, and used his feet to propel the black leather office chair across the bare concrete floor of the observatory. The rattling noise from its old castors echoed thinly around the cavernous interior. There was enough vacant space for a host of sophisticated ancillary systems, which could bring the observatory up to near-professional standards; it could even house a larger telescope. But the Gralmond university lacked the funds for such an upgrade, and had so far failed to secure any commercial sponsorship from CST—Compression Space Transport, the only company truly interested in such matters. The astronomy department survived on a collection of meager government grants, and a few endowments from pure-science foundations. Even an Earth-based educational charity made an annual donation.

Beside the door was the long wooden bench that served as a de facto office for the whole department. It was covered with banks of aging, secondhand electronic equipment and hi-rez display portals. Dudley’s briefcase was also there, containing his late-night snacks and a flask of tea.

He opened the case and started munching on a chocolate cookie as the sensor images swam up into the display portals. “Put the infrared on the primary display,” he told the e-butler.

Holographic speckles in the large main portal shoaled into a false color image of the starfield, centered around the Dyson Pair. Dyson Alpha was now emitting a faint infrared signature. Slightly to one side and two light-years farther away, Dyson Beta continued to shine normally in its M-type spectrum.

“So that really was the envelopment event,” Dudley mused. It would be two years before anyone could prove whether the same thing had happened simultaneously at Dyson Beta. At least people would have to acknowledge that the Dyson Alpha event occurred in under twenty-three hours—the time since his last recorded observation. It was a start, but a bad one. After all, he’d just witnessed something utterly astounding. But without a recording to back him up, his report was likely to generate only disbelief, and a mountainous struggle to maintain his already none-too-high reputation.

Dudley was ninety-two, in his second life, and fast approaching time for another rejuvenation. Despite his body having the physical age of a standard fifty-year-old, the prospect of a long, degrading campaign within academia was one he regarded with dread. For a supposedly advanced civilization, the Intersolar Commonwealth could be appallingly backward at times, not to mention cruel.

Maybe it won’t be that bad, he told himself. The lie was comforting enough to get him through the rest of the night’s shift.

The Carlton AllLander drove Dudley home just after dawn. Like the astronomer, the vehicle was old and worn, but perfectly capable of doing its job. It had a cheap diesel engine, common enough on a semifrontier world like Gralmond, although its drive array was a thoroughly modern photo- neural processor. With its high suspension and deep-tread tires it could plow along the dirt track to the observatory in all weather and seasons, including the meter-deep snow of Gralmond’s winters.

This morning all it had to surmount was a light drizzle and a thin slick of mud on the track. The observatory was situated on the high moorland ninety kilometers to the east of Leonida City, the planet’s capital. Not exactly a mountaintop perch, but it was the highest land within any reasonable distance, and unlikely ever to suffer from light pollution. It was forty minutes before the Carlton started to descend into the lower valleys where the main highway meandered along the base of the slopes. Only then were there any signs of human activity. A few farmsteads had been built in sheltered folds of the land where dense stretches of dark native evergreen cynomel trees occupied the ground above every stream and river. Grazing meadows had been established on the bleak hillsides, where animals shivered in the cold winds blowing down off the moorland.

All the while as the Carlton bobbed cautiously along the track, Dudley pondered how he could realistically break the news. Even a twenty-three-hour envelopment was a concept that the Commonwealth’s small fraternity of professional astronomers would dismiss out of hand. To claim it had happened in a split second would open him to complete ridicule, and invariably to an in-house status review from the university. As to the physicists and engineers who heard his claim . . . they’d gleefully contribute to the case against him.

Had he been at the start of his career he might have done it, achieving a degree of notoriety before finally proving himself right. The little man overcoming formidable odds, a semiheroic, or at least romantically poetic, figure. But now, taking such risks was too great. He needed another eight years of uninterrupted employment, even on the university’s demeaningly low salary, before his R&R pension was full; without that money there was no way he could pay for a rejuvenation. And who in the last decades of the twenty-fourth century was going to employ a discredited astronomer?

He stared out at the landscape beyond the vehicle’s windows, unconsciously stroking the OCtattoo on his ear. A wan light was illuminating the low undulating landscape of drab, damp cordgrass, revealing miserable-looking terrestrial cows and herds of the local bovine nygine. There must have been a horizon out there, but the bleak, gray sky made it hard to tell where it began. As vistas went, this had to be one of the most depressing of all the inhabited worlds.

Dudley closed his eyes and sighed. “And yet it moves,” he whispered.

As rebellions went, Dudley’s was fairly pitiful. He knew he couldn’t ignore what he’d seen out there among the eternal, unchanging constellations. Somewhat thankfully, he realized, he still had enough dignity left to make sure he didn’t take the easy burial option. Yet announcing the envelopment to the public would be the end of his own particular world. What others regarded as his essential meekness, he liked to think of as a caution that went with age. Similar to wisdom, really.

Old habits die hard, so he broke the problem down into stages, the way he always taught his students, and set about solving each one with as much logic as he could apply. Very simply, his overwhelming priority was to confirm the speed of envelopment. A wavefront of proof that was currently receding from Gralmond at the speed of light. And Gralmond was almost the farthest extent of the Commonwealth in this section of space. Almost, but not quite.

The Intersolar Commonwealth occupied a roughly spherical volume of space with Earth at the center, measuring four hundred light-years across. Gralmond was two hundred forty light-years from Earth, among the last of the second expansion phase planets to be settled. It didn’t require a great deal of calculation for Dudley to find that the next planet to witness the envelopment would be Tanyata, right on the edge of phase two space. Tanyata was even less developed than Gralmond—there was certainly no university yet—but a unisphere datasearch did find him a list of local amateur astronomers. There was one name on it.

Five months and three days after the evening he’d seen Dyson Alpha vanish, Dudley nervously waved good-bye to his wife as the Carlton pulled out of their driveway. She thought his trip to Tanyata was legitimate, sanctioned by the university. Even after eleven years of marriage, he didn’t have the courage to tell her the absolute truth. Or maybe it was that after five marriages he knew what to keep quiet about.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Should be high on everyone's reading list…. You won't be able to put it down." —-Nancy Pearl, National Public Radio

Interviews

Peter F. Hamilton has, according to the Denver Post, a "rare talent"--that of being able to create big-screen science fiction, broad enough in scope that it compares to Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy and Frank Herbert's Dune saga. Del Rey had the rare opportunity to talk to Hamilton about the alien races, strange future societies, mind-expanding new technologies, and non-stop action that contribute to his latest epic novel, Pandora's Star.

Del Rey:Pandora's Star takes place in a 24th century that reminds me a lot of the Clinton era of peace and prosperity right up to the moment that the dot.com meltdown and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center dealt a one-two punch. In your future, the equivalent "punch" is the discovery of an aggressive and malevolent force previously unknown to humanity. Were the real-world events of 2001 an influence on your story?

Peter Hamilton:There's actually a terrorist attack in Pandora's Star that the majority of humanity watches unfolding through media news shows. Someone else remarked that this is what we all did on 9/11, a parallel which never occurred to me as I was writing it. Given the universal access which the civilization of Pandora's Star has to all data and news, the scene was constructed without any thought of resonance to today's events; it was simply inevitable to them. However, as the whole Commonwealth society is a loose extrapolation of current society, such parallels will be inescapable.

DR:You postulate a number of scientific advancements which seem inevitable in the course of human advancement, even if it will be a while before we'll have them. Forexample, the invention of wormholes, which provide instant access from planet to planet, would springboard us into being a space faring society. What actual research is being done that might lay the groundwork for such technology?

PH:Wormholes as such aren't an invention. Today they exist as a mathematical possibility, although admittedly a very esoteric one. It is the technology of 'exotic' matter which is the breakthrough you need to turn them into a reality. This energy type will allow wormholes to be held open, providing a short cut between different parts of the universe. There is a lot of research into quantum entanglement being conducted at the moment, which again is a theory that allows for faster-than-light communication. As for this becoming a practical transportation technology, I don't expect it to be any time in the near, or even medium future.

DR:Another technologically cool idea in Pandora's Star is Vinmar, a planet inhabited solely by artificial intelligences. The SIs (Sentient Intelligences) originated from over reliance on artificial intelligence "smartware" created to run the wormhole network. How far along are we in the development of true artificial intelligence, and do we need to be worried about what it might someday turn into?

PH:Depending on which computer experts you listen to, a true AI is either just round the corner, or completely impossible. Either one provides SF writers with plenty of scope to use in stories. However, the evolution of an AI into something new is a singularity event, a change which is impossible to predict or explain. In short, we don't know if it would become hostile. In Pandora's Star I've chosen this evolved AI to be indifferent to us. Almost.

DR:On the far edges of human-colonized space, a mysterious ruined ship is discovered. No trace of life is found inside, but a clan of fanatic doomsayers called the Guardians of Selfhood is convinced that an alien intelligence has invaded human space. Without giving anything away, what can you tell us about the mysterious Starflyer?

PH:According to the Guardians who are opposing it, the Starflyer is a uniquely malevolent alien secretly manipulating the human race for its own purpose. Of course, everyone else in the Commonwealth thinks the Guardians are a bunch of conspiracy theorist nutters run along cult lines to support their founder.

DR:Pandora's Star contains more subplots than a daytime soap opera. Yet you keep each one well under control–and as the pages fly by, the dovetailing of story lines becomes more and more apparent. How do you plan out a novel of this magnitude? Is there a giant grid on the wall of your office?

PH: No grid, but certainly a bulky folder of notes. Planning out the characters, the worlds they're on, and the way they interact took me a good four months to work out before starting to write the book proper.

DR:One of my favorite characters in Pandora's Star is detective Paula Myo, who has never lost a case. I won't reveal her life's story here, since it makes fascinating reading, but suffice it to say that she is the result of genetic engineering. We've heard claims of human cloning recently, and we've already seen the beneficent results of in-vitro genetic surgery. Can you see society in general turning to more and more specific forms of genetic manipulation in order to have the children of their dreams?

PH:At the moment the field is alive with controversy. For the near future I can see the rich using this technology to modify their children. In which case a new and very artificial divide will certainly exist. We may even see humanity branching off into sub-species.

DR:Your wormhole technology allows for almost infinite human expansion into the stars. Which colony in the story is your favorite, and will we see more of it?

PH:It has to be Far Away, a planet whose biosphere was ruined by a massive solar flare and which was virtually dead when discovered. A situation which allows humans to reseed it however they want, creating a whole patchwork of different and exotic life forms rubbing up against each other. It will be featured quite heavily in volume two.

DR:You're working now on the completion of this vast epic, to be titled Judas Unleashed. Having fun?

PH: Oh yes. Pulling together all the plot strands, hopefully in a fashion that people can't predict, is always satisfying.

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Pandora's Star 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 157 reviews.
jsrock37 More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Peter F. Hamilton because of this book. Although it can be confusing jumping between characters in the beginning of the book, the plot development make for a rich and satisfying read when everything comes together. Can't say enough good things about the world that Hamilton creates in this novel.
IAsimov More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. Mr. Hamilton knits quite an spell binding plot. The future he imagines is plausible and fascinating. However, the book is awfully long. This 900+ pages book could be well fit in 400 pages. Hamilton dwells into long description of characters and planets even if they are secondary or auxiliary to the main plot. The result is, sometimes, a dull and hard to read book. Too many characters make the plot hard to follow and demand a lot even from a skilled reader. The worst part is the end that is only a link to his next book that is also a 900+ pages one. Maybe the author was paid by word he wrote and, therefore, decided to use every single word available in the English language.
PatrickKanouse More than 1 year ago
PANDORA'S STAR recently appeared on a "most popular" science fiction list using reddit as its source. I have had the book for a while, including a paperback version that became part of my beach reading in mid-May. It's a monster of a book and one of two in a duology. The story starts with the spotting of two stars that disappear. Some investigation determines that artificial barriers were activated around the stars. Why? Did some alien within the systems need to be contained or were they protecting themselves? Either way, humanity must investigate to determine the potential risks to the Commonwealth, a collection of human inhabited worlds connected by wormhole stations. Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Self are convinced that an ominous alien, called the Starflyer,  is behind the exploration of the disappearing stars. Peter F. Hamilton fills a thousand pages with characters, descriptions, and action, and the interest of them is a bit scattered for me. The most interesting characters are Paula Myo and Wilson Kime. Myo is a detective who has been hunting the Guardians of the Self's leader, Bradley Johannson, and primary strategist and smuggler, Adam Elvin. She's been on the case for over a hundred years (people routinely go through a process known as rejuvenation, which effectively makes them immortal, as well has having their memory backed up). Myo was "rescued" from a planet that followed an Aldous Huxley model of genetically tweaking people for expertise in specific tasks, and Myo is a fantastic detective, though the Guardians elude her (because of the Starflyer?). We follow her method and near misses. Dedicated, focused, and no nonsense, she proves several times to be sympathetic and faces her moral crisis at the end of the book fully aware of the risks. Wilson Kime landed the first human expedition on Mars, only to be upstaged by Nigel Sheldon and Ozzie Isaac, creators of the first wormhole generators. After many rejuvenations, he is selected by Sheldon to lead the exploration of the barrier star, called Dyson Alpha. He eventually leads a follow up scouting mission and becomes the first admiral of the Commonwealth navy. He's out to reclaim some of that lost glory and because he loves exploration. Ozzie has a whole sequence of parts that I did not like. He teams up with a kid who alternatively seems like he's two and then 18. Ostensibly, Ozzie is seeking what the alien Silfden, a fey, carefree culture, know of the Dyson barrier. Ozzie grew up in surfer culture California and says "dude" far too often for my taste. I found quite intriguing the SI character: the AI created by humanity who stores the human memories. The SI has an interest in the Dyson barrier, but it is enigmatic and its interest and motivations are mysterious, which is why it is intriguing. Hamilton knows how to describe various planets and technologies with ease. His ideas on rejuvenation, the Dyson aliens, wormholes, and a host of technologies are wonderfully executed and thought out. However, I found many of the descriptions unnecessary, word padding. Also, much of his dialogue seemed overly wrought--some of the interactions between couples were particularly galling. Still, the scope and the characters he does do well lead me to a lukewarm four stars. PANDORA'S STAR is definitely the set up for book two, which I will read.
lindamb296 More than 1 year ago
Although the plot of this book was totally awesome, the overkill prose and the sadistically anti-clamactic ending proved my time was wasted reading this book. I believe that all fiction should contain prose, of course, but to go into descriptions to the nth degree that this author did was over burdening to the reader and that amount of detail (i.e. the color of the hair folicle [sarcasm intended] was totally unecessary and detracted from the story line. Luckily, I was "reading" this as an audio book and was able to fast forward. Otherwise, I would never have made it through the 25 chapters. All I can say to the author, without spoiling the ending for anyone willing to endulge in this epic prose, is that he owes me $30. The ending was an insult. If you are "reading" this as an audio book, be prepared to be put to sleep... literally. The narrator has a voice that just lulls you to sleep. Don't listen while driving long distances. The only thing about the narrator I didn't like, was his voice fluctuations went from loud to soft to loud. It was difficult to hear in a public place (via Ipod). Such a shame this great story line was wasted in such a sad way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is really hard for me to find a book that can hold my attention all the way through. However, with this book I was hardly able to put it down! The story was amazing with awesome plot twists and a great character cast that kept this story from ever getting dull. I was actually happy when I found out that the story continued into a second book, which was equally as amazing, if not better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did not know this was part one of two books...and I'm thrilled. I was almost sad as a reached the last 100 pages, thinking this awesome journey was ending. As I approached the final 50 I couldn't stop reading. Ouch!! I really have lost hours of sleep.
FlorenceArt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I probably shouldn't have read the two volumes of this series so close together. It was just too much and made me more impatient with the faults of the books. The story is engaging, and the author creates a very detailed universe. Too detailed probably, this prevented me from feeling at home there. Another problem is the lack of believability. I can accept the technological premises (in fact I have no idea how realistic or unrealistic they may be), but the society imagined by Hamilton is a sort of capitalistic paradize, where a few people concentrate amazing power and wealth on a galactic level, and still manage to not mess things up royally, to never abuse their power (apart from some petty squabbling which is supposed to make the whole thing more realistic I suppose), to never even just crack up when facing incredibly stressful situations and the anihilation of our entire species. Everyone ends up doing the right thing eventually. The society described here seems to be one huge upper-middle class, with as I said a handful of super-powerful individuals benevolently ruling it. Although there is one hint that some people do not have access to all the technology available (especially to rejuvenation and re-life procedures), this hint is associated with the description of a "socialist party" that is basically a small band of fanatical terrorists, and we never get to meet one of these people who are excluded from virtual immortality. Maybe they just quietly died out?The unbelievability also extends to characters. As I mentioned, facing the possibility of mass extinction, everybody seems to act rationally and with the greater good in mind. Some characters start out with more or less normal human faults, but they end up working with everybody for the greater good. Told the right way, this could be moving, but unfortunately it just comes out as an artificial change in the personality of the character.I did read the two books to the end, which I wouldn't have done if they had really annoyed or bored me. However, I felt relieved when it was over. As I said, it was a mistake to read the two back to back. I would probably be more forgiving if I had waited a while between the two.
KAzevedo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yes, it's long, yes, it's like eating a favorite candy (you're full and somewhat sick, but you can't stop), yes, it's sometimes silly, but wow is it fun! The book has interesting, if sometimes unbelieveable science, entertaining, if sometimes unbelieveable people, high adventure, politics, and many storylines that do, in the course of both books, come together in totally satisfying ways. I particularly enjoyed (and was spooked by) the detailed development of the alien culture, the Prime, that threatens the Commonwealth. They are not evil and do not set out to destroy humanity specifically, but are obeying the dictates of their evolution which impels them to expand. They do not think or reason as humans do and cannot be negotiated with. How do you fight such an enemy? I will not remember "Pandora's Star" and it's sequel, "Judas Unchained", as great SF literature, but will greatly enjoy thinking about them and how much fun they were to read.
lanes_3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A long, epic space opera. This story at times drags on, and at times flies by. There are numerous story lines, and as an audible version can be hard to pick up who each or the characters are and their relationships. Most of it ties together nicely at the end, though it does finish strange for a couple of the main characters. I believe there is a sequel which may explain the abrupt ending. All in all, not a bad book.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hamilton is very long winded. This is probably my only complaint about this book. It is way too long. Not too long in that the story got bogged down, but too long in that I wanted to get through it faster.I want to know what the Dyson Sphere "bubble" was, who the Prime is, what Humankind is going to do about it... who is the Starflyer, what are the elves? What does Ozzy have to do with the story? And, ultimately, will we win?So, the answers to my questions were fed to me like an IV - drip drip drip - with an interfering nurse at hand who occasionally turned off the drip, or switched the bag for a completely different product. The story takes too long to get started (I nearly put it down 'cause there's so much buildup and no release for so long). And it's continually interrupted with 'side-stories' which, eventually, turn out to not really be 'side-stories' at all, but part of the main plot. (Of course, you don't know this as you're reading about a space-battle with interesting aliens that suddenly switches to another character who's traipsing through the forest with some elves.)It's very well woven together, and I assume with book 2 the left-over threads will be pulled tight (and I suspect a whole new weave will be intertwined). And I'm still quite engaged with the whole story because I still want to know "will we win"?
Homechicken on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This nearly-1000 page book is just the first half of a very long story, so be warned about what you're getting in to. That aside, it's a good scifi book, although it seems at first (for several hundred pages) that the stories are mostly unconnected. They do start to come together.Overall, the story is about two star systems that suddenly disappear, surrounded by a Dyson Sphere or something similar to it. Humans have begun expanding throughout the universe via wormhole technology, and spaceflight is something of a distant memory. Death and disease have also been conquered, granting limitless lifespan (if you have the money to pay for regeneration). Being too far out for their wormholes, humans decide to build a new space ship to travel to the Dyson pair, as they have been dubbed, to examine them. When they arrive and begin studying the shield that has somehow been placed around the entire solar system, it suddenly deactivates, releasing the inhabitants within.. They capture two humans on an EVA, learn of the location of the human commonwealth, and begin invasion plans.This is, by far, a simplified overview. It's a good scifi novel if you like long stories, but due to its size I can only recommend it for real die-hard science fiction readers.
jeroenvandorp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading a book is choosing a book, catering to your taste. But sometimes you come upon a book that's special, even if you're not interested in the time or the theme. It's just a great book. Those books appeal to all. No wonder we start to call these books "literature" and "classics". There are also books quite the contrary. They only cater a certain crowd which in turn adores everything the author produces. Like people watching every single episode of a soap, posting on forums about it and joining communities dedicated to their series and characters. Peter Hamilton's books are in this category. People who like to read every single detail just about everything and anything without wondering where the story might go or what it changes in the main characters.For others - like me, I admit - it means hundreds of pages of filler, literally dozens and dozens of characters unrelated to a well-hidden plot and the discovery that at the end of the book you'll have to sit through another counterweight of a book.If you're not only interested in the name of character x but also in his every single move the last few hundred years, including his family, his home town, his car and its spare parts, you have a winner with Hamilton. If you're interested in a well written story that leads somewhere, stay clear of Hamilton altogether.
clif_hiker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is billed as a classic must read space opera, and it doesn't fail to deliver. ~1000 pages of excruciating detail about 'The Commonwealth', the human space empire based solely on travel via wormhole. Clever weaving of multiple storylines leads to one of the most chilling scenes I've ever read in science fiction... along about page 750 or so. A very satisfying cliffhanger ending has me looking for the sequel (another ~1000 pager). Only for the serious fan of science fiction and space empire lovers. Well worth the time to read.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pandora's Star is one of the best books I've read in a while. It's a long book, but the plot is paced so beautifully you never notice. The characters are balanced against a back drop that spans worlds, cultures and alien intelligence. Hamilton rarely misses a step. The worlds are believable, yet unique. The aliens are really alien and not just facsimiles of humans. And the story is as great as anything I've read. The sub-genre of space opera was written just for Hamilton to write this novel, or so it seems.The deeper issues are missing a little here. This isn't a simple adventure novel, but the themes are not as deep as you'll find in a book like Hyperion. On the other hand, because of this, Hamilton avoids some of the missteps of Simmons in balancing his interweaving tales. It's tough to say which approach is better. But it really doesn't matter, because I can't imagine a science fiction fan who wouldn't enjoy this novel. Also, while characterization is sacrificed for story to some extent in this novel, I have to say the character of Ozzie is one of the most realistic and likable heroes of any novel.
MartvdW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Peter F. Hamilton was in rare form when he wrote this; it is almost as tightly written as his Greg Mandel work, only the sheer size of the setting and the amount of characters are responsible for the size of this book.It doesn't get the the fifth star because of a few Tolkien-like sidetrips in describing the characters' immediate environment, and Hamilton's ever-present weak spot: his inability to hide the major plot twist. About a third in, an astute reader can already surmise who the Big Bad is going to be.What we get is a classic bit of Space Opera. Humanity has colonised multiple worlds and linked them with a network of trains; memory storage techniques have developed so that the contents of a brain can be saved and restored to a clone body, or memories can be edited and stored at will.In this world, an astronomer sees a star disappear literally in the blink of an eye. For the first time, an interstellar spaceship is built to go and investigate.The series features political intrigue, multiple mysteries pursued by a Javert-like (but sympathetic) detective, a quest for knowledge among the Elves (yes, it is better than that sounds) and plenty of action, both simple fights and war scenes.It's entertainment, not High Art, but it's very well written entertainment. Recommended.
Shmuel510 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I suppose the good news is that this is a long book, so there's plenty to read. Unfortunately, the quality isn't nearly up to the quantity. The writing is adequate at best, there's a faint layer of authorial condescension hanging over all the characters, and the cosmology and technology never quite add up.I was just interested enough to make it through this volume's 988 pages, but I really don't think I need to bother with the conclusion in the second book.
buehler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book! Hamilton's story describes a very believable future, where humanity is reaching out for the stars to build a vast galactic empire. The technologies of this future are realistic, the characters have depth, the overall storyline is captivating. Hamilton's strength in creating a very realistic environment ('world building') is clearly visible. Definitely a must-read book, and of course there is the sequel, 'Judas Unchained', which is already waiting for me in my bookshelf.
petercal94 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book. Hamilton never lets the technical sci-fi elements overwhelm the story. The chapter in which he introduces the aliens is particularly well done.
mbg0312 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another big idea world building piece from Peter Hamilton. He probably needs a much tighter editor to be more to my taste, but I understand that its probably part of his appeal to many readers.
att on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I frankly enjoyed the book immensely. I haven't read the sequel yet, but the first book really makes good reading to search for the second one. The book goes from dedective story to articial intelligence, to aliens like elves and hippies to hive live existence of a biomachine society that threatens the humanity. There are moments of high unbeleivable scenes, but then this is a space opera, where things travel that way :)
otabari on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was a little boring to read at first; my guess, based on how this book ended, the author wanted to give as much detail about the story and characters as he could, which actually was great. I love all the detail that went into telling the story of the commonwealth, and the subsequent events that befall it. Can't wait to start the second book, Judas Unchained, later today.
closedmouth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Reviewed April 27, 2009)I can feel Hamilton getting a grip on this whole writing caper. Lots of intrigue here, better characters (although they're still irritating, just less so), a very complex and surprisingly subtle plot. The sex is still creepy, but thankfully the action is just as exciting, so there is a balance. Let's hope he doesn't throw it all away again.
reading_fox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Too long. Really. I mean I like long books, I like intricate detail, and backstoried characters. But this is just silly. There's over 400 pages just setting up one character, and another several couple hundred devoted to another who's just gone off for a walk and doesn't contribute anything to the plot. To say nothing about the tedious pages of exposition describing one-shot locations. The real Hero of the story doesn't get any pages at all, just a couple of walk-on mentions.Bradley Johnsson is our unmentioned hero. The lives of all the characters (and there are so many a partial list has to be included in the front - it's useful) revolve around him without intersecting. The year is 2340 and mankind has invented rejuvenation and wormhole tech. This has allowed them to spread in successive waves of colonisation away from earth without overcrowding but with the wisdom of age. Way out at one of the furthest reaches of human expansion a different alien (for mankind already knows some sentient beings) spacecraft is found crashed. Bradley was part of the investigation team, but quit and now harangues all of human space with his gorilla movement. He claims the alien 'infected' him, but that he's now cured and that the alien's presence is still steering human politicians for its own ends. Such preposterous conspiracy theories are ignored by all our characters as we jump through their lives. The main concern is building and the follow-up of the first wormhole-drive space ship to investigate an anomalous star pair 1000ly away from human space. But from the consequences of this, ripples perturb the stability of human society.Apart from the vast length - and consequent extremely slowness of the action, there are other problems with this work. At times a quaint small minded and unimaginative anachronism creeps in - people drink tea, and coffee, and coke. 20th century nationalism is retained, they have 1950s cocktail parties! Yes ok they're rejuvs and were born in the 2000s having had several bodies since then, and retaining many memories. But still it just doesn't seem believable to the reader that 20th century Earth ideas would linger. The UKcentric attitude is equally wrong and I'm a UK native. Other examples include the e-butler. This annoys me every time. After 300 years people would drop the e-, and probably the butler too. Other problems crop up too. I've never been a big fan of multi-character stories, and Hamiliton is not the best at clearly indicating which character is next up in the narrative, not why we should remember them. Then there are unexplained time jumps and discontinuities. The plot lurches from one planet or person to another. Despite the commonwealth having instantaneous communication (wormholes again maybe, although it isn't clear, and Hamilton doesn¿t seem to realise the problems of lightspeed lag) we don't know which events are simultaneous and which aren't. Hamilton does write well, the prose is easy to read, he does manage to inteweave the character plot lines (eventually) so that there is some build-up of tension towards the end.Although sold as Space Opera, it isn't really. The feel is much more like Epic Fantasy that just happens to be set in Space. Opera has a much narrower cast, and a wider backdrop. This has a vast range of characters but even though humanity is spread throughout hundreds of worlds all the power and influence remains on Earth. There are some good ideas (and within 1000pages there had better be) the conflict between the characters is well drawn out; the rejuvenation technology and its consequences for society are also intelligently imagined and handled. I wasn't too convinced by the aliens, but I've read much worse. Overall I think this could have been a superb book if strictly edited down to 7-800 pages. It would still be long, as there is much story to tell, but it would be faster and tauter. With more action we'd care more about the characters, the tedious exposition could be cut, and Ha
Noisy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What's the point in reviewing this book? Why would anyone want to read about the plot or literary skill of the author, when this is such a massive tome that you either know already that you like space opera science fiction and/or Peter F. Hamilton, or else you wouldn't be considering it in the first place? Well ... OK there are a couple of things that you need to know up front. The first and most important is that this isn't a book: it is only the first part of a book, and unless you have the intention of reading the second part straight after reading this then you will just be left frustrated when you get to the end and find out that ALL the plot-lines are left hanging. The second thing is that - apart from the multiple plot-lines that introduce so many characters that you can easily lose track, but which is standard PFH - there are bound to be elements of the story which seem to be detrimental to the cohesiveness of the universe that has been created here. For me, these were a concentration upon the transport infrastructure and the lack of Chinese people in the story. I'm not saying that things like these will destroy your enjoyment, but they certainly acted as a distraction.
daniel.links on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An impulse buy, and a highly entertaining one. An excellent fictional universe, a great alien society, and a plot that certainly has you wanting to turn the page (even if it doesn't have too many shocks). There was some discrepencies of the "but would you really do that?" kind, and some very rather 1970s science fiction moments (walking the "paths" veered a bit too much into fantasy for my tastes) but perhaps these actually add something to the books uniqueness... I'm not really sure. Some more proactive female characters might have impressed me more; some in particular seemed very stereotyped.Worth a look, but be warned, you'll want to read the sequel to see what happened, whether you like this novel or not.