Here’s the next installment in my, “Books Off the Shelf” series. So Many Books, So Little Time! I will attempt to give you an idea on some books you might enjoy or not enjoy quite as much without ruining it with too many spoilers.
Pandora's Star (The Commonwealth Saga Book 1)
By Peter F. Hamilton
Rating 9 out of 10
The year is 2380. The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars some four hundred light-years in diameter, 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 . . . vanishes. It does not go supernova. It does not collapse into a black hole. It simply disappears. Since the location is too distant to reach by wormhole, a faster-than-light starship, the Second Chance, is dispatched to learn what has occurred and whether it represents a threat. In command is Wilson Kime, a five-time rejuvenated ex-NASA pilot whose glory days are centuries behind him.
Opposed to the mission are the Guardians of Selfhood, a cult that believes the human race is being manipulated by an alien entity they call the Starflyer. Bradley Johansson, leader of the Guardians, warns of sabotage, fearing the Starflyer means to use the starship’s mission for its own ends.
Pursued by a Commonwealth special agent convinced the Guardians are crazy but dangerous, Johansson flees. But the danger is not averted. Aboard the Second Chance, Kime wonders if his crew has been infiltrated. Soon enough, he will have other worries. A thousand light-years away, something truly incredible is waiting: a deadly discovery whose unleashing will threaten to destroy the Commonwealth…and humanity itself.
Could it be that Johansson was right?
This book is a thrilling ride in an incredibly imagined future. Think of a world where two primary scientific discoveries have changed everything. With an amazing mathematical and engineering prowess, humans can now generate wormholes between worlds that allow them to colonize worlds hundreds of light years from each other. Space exploration/colonization in its traditional imagining is completely turned on its head through this. Humans also now have the ability to be rejuvenated—quite literally have all of the years of wear and tear removed from their bodies, returning them to the perfect health of young twenties. Memory crystals implanted in the brain even allow for body-death victims to be restored to life—an interesting take on immortality.
Hamilton paints an incredibly convincing picture of a society that has grown out of and around these scientific marvels.
Then enters the slight hiccup of potentially hostile aliens, and an entire civilization is threatened. All in all this is one of the best science fiction books I have ever read. Definitely not a book for kids, with some more adult content sprinkled throughout, but the story in fantastic. If you like sweeping storytelling mixed with terrific writing, this just may be the book for you. I am in the midst of the second book in the series now, and I will let you know my thoughts as I finish.
If you’ve read Pandora’s Star or any of Hamilton’s other work, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a message below. And as ever, if you have suggestions of books to review, please let me know. If it is Science Fiction or Fantasy, there is a good chance it is on my shelf or should be.
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Ryan J. Doughan