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    Pandora's Star (review)

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    Pandora's Star (review)

    Postby Redstar » 25 Oct 2009 06:09

    When I left my dad's place I grabbed a few books from his shelf. One was Nineteen Eighty-Four, of which I read and reviewed already. The other two were of the "Commonwealth Saga" by Peter F. Hamilton. I decided to read the first, Pandora's Star, as a challenge to the author. The book was reviewed by SFRevu as "AN IMAGINATIVE AND STUNNING TALE OF THE PERFECT FUTURE THREATENED...a book of epic proportions not unlike Frank Hebert's Dune or Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy." My father himself said it was "better than Dune"

    Well, I couldn't have that. I decided to read it in full "editor mode". I'm reasonably sure I've caught most of what fails in this story, as well as what succeeds. Considering the things I will be going into, be warned of the occasional spoiler.

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    Like 2001: A Space Odyssey and so many other books before it, Pandora's Star starts out with a question. Dudley Bose, an astronomer, witnesses the complete enclosure of two stars. Who has done this and why are the questions sweeping across the Commonwealth. The government immediately reacts, weighing options and discussing possibilities. Fears that the aliens of those star systems were being contained for some reason, or that the containers themselves are a threat, is the top concern.

    Finally, a decision is made: why not just go and check it out? Astonishing! Why didn't I think of that? Well, there's a problem. The entirety of human colonization is based on wormholes. And no human planet is close enough to either star to open a wormhole to it. This is definitely a deterant, but a genius idea is eventually decided: build a star ship that constantly opens and closes wormholes as a sort of hyperdrive so they can get there.

    This itself presents a problem. The year is 2380 and no star ship of any sort has been built since the 21st century. That was considered redundant and expensive when two California physicists, Ozzie Isaac and Nigel Sheldon, discovered wormholes and promptly introduced the world to them by arriving on Mars just minutes before NASA does, humiliating astronaut Wilson Kime and decimating the entire industry.

    So Ozzie and Sheldon, chuckling at themselves in assumed irony, decide to engineer a ship fitted with a portable wormhole device to act as a hyperdrive and seek out Wilson Kime to captain the ship. And so the story begins.

    So far, the story holds promise. You get just enough to propel you through, wanting to see how things turn out and what sort of mishaps will occur before, during, and after the flight. (Of which there are many, it turns out) It did seem rather boring at first, but the prologue actually shows Wilson getting one-upped by Ozzie and Nigel. I found that particularly amusing, and it was actually fairly subtle in setting up the foundation of the universe later in the story. And by "subtle" I mean he kind of tells you the state of the world in 2080, and you're supposed to just take it in stride as the set-up. Of course, this does succeed because Hamilton doesn't ramble on about the world he's created, he just tells you what you need to know. And what we need to know at this point is that due to conservative lobbying in the US, genetic research was banned which forced the US to specialize in space research, while Europe specialized in genetics. Too bad wormholes ruined that industry, eh? At least the physicists were American, so we came out all right it appears.

    You may have noticed that Ozzie, Sheldon, and Wilson all appear to be alive at the time of the story, despite being alive at the very beginning. Well, this is the result of European specializing... Technology has allowed for "rejuvenation"... The process of being saturated with stem cells while in a tank for nearly a year, which rejuvenates your body and returns you to a younger state. So these three characters, as well as most humans throughout the Commonwealth, are effectively immortal. A unique set-up, for sure, but I find the way Hamilton did it to be faulty world-building. I'll explain why later.

    For now, I'll focus on the characters. The Library Journal has this to say: "RECOMMENDED...A large cast of characters, each with his own story, brings depth and variety to this far-future saga." Now, ignoring the fact that half of the main characters are women (which says a lot about the accuracy of this particular review), I would have to agree that there actually is a "large cast". But depth and variety? Not so much.

    Being a character-writer myself, I feel that a story is only ever as good as the characters that carry it. They are the foundation that both ignites the story and moves it forward, and in some cases even end it. While not every story needs to outright focus on the characters at the detriment of the world they reside in, I should say they certainly aren't bad additions. The Lord of the Rings and Dune, for example, both focus on the unbalance introduced into a previously stable world, and are indeed epic because of that... But at the same time, both works are largely admired for their characters. The story was the instrument that moved the characters, not the other way around. They were never simple devices whose only purpose was pushing the story along its pre-defined track.

    In this case, I must say that Pandora's Star failed. I knew this from the very start, in fact, because it took me over 100 pages before I could recall any given character's name. I only managed to learn the main character's name because I kept checking the back summary. The characters simply aren't memorable.

    On a deeper level, they're also not written well. Many of them have no real motivation, and those that do have very superficial ones that only seem to contain depth because Hamilton had the good sense not to really think them through and define them more clearly. I found depth only through inserting it myself.

    Hamilton seems to be trapped in a British man's perspective. I couldn't really find any femininity in the female characters, nor any sense of nationality outside of "British". I found it pretty jarring when the main character, Wilson Kime, said "Jesus wept". He said it several times, and eventually another character said it. I knew it's a verse from the Bible, but why it was being said at all escaped me. So I looked it up... Apparently, it's an expression of profanity used chiefly in the United Kingdom. Okay, great. Except Wilson is American. Which is also fine, so I accepted it despite the alienness. It wasn't until Ozzie Isaac, a black-latino California surfer-boy started using it, as well as 19-year-old Mellanie Rescorai, born in the 24th century started using it that I grew annoyed. Please, if this epithet is more widespread than I think, please tell.

    Perhaps the most interesting character is Paula Myo, a detective for the "Serious Crimes Division" of the Commonwealth government. She has a strong desire for order and justice, and uses her keen sense of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to make Sherlock-deductions. This has helped her solve every crime she's ever gone up against... Except for one: The Guardians of Selfhood case. This is a pseudo-terrorist group convinced that an alien being called the "Starflyer" is secretly manipulating the government towards humanity's ultimate destruction. They, and their leader, Bradley Johannson, have managed to elude her for over a century.

    Paula was actually likable. She was intelligent, reserved, and even seemingly sexually conservative. (I'll get to that part later) I looked forward to her chapters and scenes, and especially wanted to know her background. Surely such a pillar of human intelligence and astuteness had a tragic past or some event in her life that accounts for her OCD and sense of justice?

    Unfortunately, I was wrong. When her background finally started to unfold, I had to do a double-take. It occurred as narrative starting at the end of one page and beginning on the other. It simply came out of nowhere and was so jarring I thought I'd skipped a page and checked back and fourth several times. I read it again and again, but finally realized Hamilton had simply done a shift of perspective in third-person, and done it badly, that I just kept on.

    This wasn't as bad as Paula's background itself. As it turns out, there's a colony world known as "Huxley's Haven" that decided to genetically alter embryos to produce people predisposed towards certain fields of work in a pseudo, genetically-governed socialist society. Paula herself was altered to work in law enforcement as a detective, was protesters offworld abducted several babies from the hospital. All were caught and the babies, except for her. On her 16th birthday her parents proudly told her the story, convinced they'd broken her from "nature" due to "nurture". Instead, Paula notified the police because of her sense of justice and they were carted off to prison after a lengthy trial. She then joined the academy.

    Now, that story is certainly interesting. Of course it is: it's science fiction. But at the same time it's lazy. Paula is such a good detective because she was engineered for it.... That negates any and all character development that could have made her herself (not her background) interesting. In short, she's a Mary Sue of the highest caliber.

    Did I mention she's never lost a case? Well, yes, she's solved them all. Towards the beginning of the novel she's placed on another case where she investigates two lovers that disappeared nearly 30 years ago. The husband of the woman became suspicious and decided to have the case investigated, thinking they didn't disappear but were murdered. The two lovers have since been brought back to life (I'll get to this later, and thoroughly rant about how idiotic this world-building really is) and interviewed, with the man screaming for "his" murderers to be caught.

    Long story short, nearly 100 pages later and spanning four chapters, Paula comes to a conclusion: the husband had the two lovers murdered. So, she has him arrested and it all goes to court. He's prosecuted. This is all fine and well, but Paula literally had no evidence. The sum of her work consisted of saying "when the murder was faked, the woman's things were taken... None of your things. If it wasn't you, then how did the killer know what to take?" At which point the husband freaks out realizing he probably did do it (he had his memories wiped, which, apparently, is a legal procedure).

    This is completely and utterly retarded. That's called logic. Logic doesn't work in courts. You can't just say "Logically, this person did it. We have absolutely no proof at all, but it's logical." No. Doesn't work that way. In fact, this would have never gone to the courts. You know what makes detectives, fictional or otherwise so good? They notice some mundane point just like this, then they use it to find evidence. If Paula was a real detective, or Hamilton was at least a real writer, then that piece of logic would have only been the catalyst to begin looking into him as a suspect, not the defining closure of a high media profile case.

    As it turns out, this entire sub-plot was a red herring. I read through it (remember, over 100 pages) hoping it in some way connected to the main story. Ultimately, it did not. The husband did it, not a Guardian of Selfhood agent or anyone else, and that was that. But what! The husband was dating a 19-year-old girl (the previously mentioned Mellanie Rescorai). This girl is mentioned about a chapter later, and at this point we realize she's a main character. Despite every time a part she was featured in, it was from the viewpoint of either Paula or the husband. And every time she was basically half-naked and fucking the husband. There was absolutely zero foreshadowing that she would become important. Basically, we spent 100 pages dealing with a random sub-plot just to introduce one character that was never more than a background fixture.

    Worse, she becomes probably the most powerful person in the entire story. Coincidentally, she manages to contact the SI (Sentient Intelligence (Wow, kinda redundant there, huh? Thought you were too good to just as "AI", Mr. Hamilton?)) and get its help. This is after it was established that the SI only speaks directly to about three people in the entire universe. So why does it talk to her? Because her grandfather's memories were uploaded into it, and "cared" to answer. This is utterly contrived to make her important, just like the earlier pointlessness of her introduction, and ultimately leads her to become yet another Mary Sue. (I hate the term, but considering she walked up to alien invaders, lifted up her hands, and the SI somehow sent brain-breaking signals out of her, I'd say she counts)

    After all this, I felt that Hamilton simply did not care for his characters. He put the bare minimum down in explaining what sort of personality they had and some background, but in the end never bothered to apply any real motivation. Minor things hinted at this, such as misspelling major character's names at several points. I simply can't imagine a strong character-writer doing such a thing outside of typos, which these were not; they were actual name changes (IE, Johnnie to Jonny kind of mistakes)

    Other than that, there were several instances that stood out as blatant examples of Hamilton seemingly not caring. Main character Wilson Kime, for example, expresses feelings that he does not consider his various rejuvenated forms as his "self". If this is true, then why does he do it? Out of habit? Obligation? This is never significantly explored, and we're left with an unmotivated character.

    A final point was this following text:

    "What are we going to do?" the President [Elaine Doi] asked.
    Wilson was disgusted with how whiny she sounded.

    Eight sentences after that came "And the other planets?" Doi asked coolly. She was rallying well after the loss of the starships.

    How does a writer make such a mistake that, only eight sentences after writing that a character came off as "whiny", she was then "cool" and "rallying well"? Hamilton does not know his characters, so I feel no obligation to give a damn myself.

    At this point I should probably explain one of the driving technologies of this world and why I don't like it. As stated above, Europe specialized towards genetics and developed a process that rejuvenates people to their youth. This is effectively "immortality for everyone". Very utopian, very "future". The societal and philosophical repercussions of such a technology should be felt by everyone, should it not? Well, not really. Hamilton seems to have used it as a mere story-device that doesn't really do anything. It's taken for granted in the same way telephones are now.

    While I can accept that some sense of the mundane may develop at the point this story takes place, I cannot accept that the legal and social side are just ignored. One character, a labeled "socialist" named Adam Elvin, is apparently fighting for equal rejuvenation rights. And, to be perfectly honest, I side with him. A simple look at this technology reveals an inherently-flawed society.

    The rejuvenation process was at times described at having various levels of accuracy. Corollary, rejuvenation is covered by insurance. It was stated by some middle-class characters that rejuvenation is supremely expensive, so it made me wonder what sort of equality there really is. If the rich can somehow afford a "better" rejuvenation process, then does that mean the middle-class with only basic coverage have a greater chance of flaws occurring? Wouldn't such issue lead to higher rates, thus ensuring they're forever in the debt of the insurance company? Even worse, what about the poor that can't afford such treatment? Obviously they almost never get rejuvenation, which only allows for the middle-class and rich to work their way up through the system while keeping a near-permanent lower-class. This is clearly not an equal society and I sympathize with Adam because of it.

    Even worse, if you actually do die, you don't stay dead... You are cloned in a process called "re-life", and given a sped-up growth rate to get you to an adult age. What I find especially egregious about this is that you're awarded everything your former life held, being essentially the same person legally. How, I ask, does a society without a balanced population sustain itself? How does a society where only the rich get richer and the poor stay poor keep going? Though a likely system (just look at our society), Hamilton portrays this as perfect.

    Without looking at the class system created by rejuvenation and re-life, I was severely disappointed to find that the spiritual/religious side was not really brought up. (Aside form the constant "Jesus wept" hackneyed dialogue) Religion was finally brought up, albeit only momentarily, within 50 pages of the book ending. The President verbally "thanked god" that so many millions of lives were saved following an invasion, when her assistant says "Don't bring up god. Most people are atheists now." Umm... Okay? Yeah, that's satisfying. Real way to handwave away any real social implications with throwaway dialogue. All this does is imply that Hamilton either believes religion is only concerned with death (and since rejuve effectively ends the perception of "death", which is in itself stupid... People can't honestly believe clones with implanted memories are the same person), or he's a bad writer that can't tackle the big questions in a supposedly well-written world.

    Another problem I had was a blatant ignorance of social systems. Adam Elvin is described as a socialist. This I get... Except his first appearance has him going to a "worker's pub", with the word "comrade" thrown around a lot. Much later and far more telling Adam says he won't do something "even if Karl Marx rose from the grave and said so". Hamilton does not know the difference between socialism and communism. His opinion on the subject became pretty obvious after looking into his "Greg Mandel trilogy", which is about a "...near-future Britain which has been run into the ground by global warming [by] a communist government". So yeah.

    Hamilton really is big on cliches. You know how most science fiction works have some sort of "ascended" alien race that humans don't understand, but turns out they're the next step of evolution? Basically, space elves. Yeah, Hamilton has those in here. They're called the "Silfen", and are basically tall, blue-skinned people that live in forests and have blenders for mouths. They come into play about midway in the story while being investigated by Ozzie Isaac. The Silfen somehow travel from planet to planet without visible wormhole or FTL technology, and popular theory is that they "walk the paths". This is basically a "go down one forest path, come out on another planet" trippy physics shit.

    While this is reasonably interesting and I found myself only enjoying the Silfen-themed Ozzie chapters, I was still put off by the constant philosophical-big-words-Yoda-talk spouted by the Silfen, as well as the constant comparisons to elves. Really, I get it. It's been done before. And done well, thank you very much Mr. Heinlein and the Old Ones. Would have been a little more acceptable if Hamilton hadn't decided to make the point that the Silfen literally are elves. They "walked the paths" onto earth and inspired our myths and legends. Again, pretty interesting in and of itself, but really, it's a damn cliche and if you're not going to do something original with it, don't do it at all.

    After that, I only had minor qualms with the book. Hamilton's choice of words were sometimes numbing, such as when he constantly switched back and forth in "elfin" and "elven", and he decided to denote a female manager as a "manageress" and used "eatable" rather than "edible". I'm not aware if the gender-denoting job title is still the norm in the UK, but in the US it is not and most terms are now gender-neutral. It seems like a redundant word to use, considering the gender of said manager was mentioned several times. And, again, not sure if "eatable" is the popular word in the UK, but as far as my dictionaries say, "edible" means the same exact thing and is more commonly used.

    Moving on to the narrative, I was rather put off by the big blocks of text. The narrative was rather smooth but would suddenly be interrupted by two pages of straight descriptions that usually held no bearing. I simply did not care about how pretty the lake was or how big a house was when you've clearly set me up for political intrigue or alien laser shootouts the last chapter. I may have been more accepting, but most of this descriptions as well as in-narrative comparisons tended to resort to "as if it were" descriptions. It got annoying knowing the writer couldn't think up another way to compare one thing to another or create a good simile.

    This habit of being drab also applied to the characters. Nearly every one of the females had "raven" hair, which I really don't know what means. Ravens have a distinct blue or purple coloration in direct sunlight, so am I to picture this whenever a character has "raven" hair? Or am I to imagine pure black, like so many other poor writers are attempting to convey. Words are all about meanings, and the meanings you apply must translate faithfully to the reader else you run the risk of saying something you didn't mean. There are just more than one way to say "black" hair. Open a thesaurus sometime.

    I was also annoyed at how many times a character was described as being "Oriental". This means nothing to me. There are simply hundreds of groups of "Asians" that can be defined as "Oriental", and in fact the term "Orient" can be just as easily applied to the far eastern Europe or India. It's a broad term. I'm also visually-educated enough to know the difference between a Japanese person and a Filipino. "Oriental" just does not give me a mental image that's particularly helpful. I also know that "Oriental" is an offensive term in the US, though I looked into it and it's apparently acceptable in the UK. Let me know.

    By the same token, one character was described as "African" and wearing "African tribal clothes". This is even worse than the previous, since there are far more ethnic and cultural groups in Africa than in Asia. Hamilton has applied a blanket term that both shows his ignorance and successfully leaves me clueless as to how this character works. Seriously, just say "Dogon tribal clothes" and I'd know what you're talking about. If anything, a name will inspire me to look it up. Don't leave me hanging, man.

    Overall, a sad waste of time. Hamilton fails far more than he succeeds, and couldn't even save it with the ending. In my experience, a series of books raises a question with each and answers it in closing, only to have more raised in the process. That's a how a good writer hooks you into the next in the series. Hamilton didn't do that. He didn't answer the question posited in the beginning of the book (who enclosed the Dyson pair and why). In fact, he didn't even raise any new questions. You finish the book in pretty much the same place you began it with little reason to read on except for the off-chance that maybe this time you'll figure something out. Even the build-up of the entire book, that of the threat of an alien invasion, is a let-down. Why? Because it happens at the end of the book. No, it doesn't leave on a cliff-hanger. Worse: it happens in the second-from-last chapter, and ends in the same chapter. The way it was written at least left the final chapter room to effectively close on a very slight twist, but it felt really strange to have something so epic happen in one chapter. It was a cop-out.

    I should point out that one character dies in the last chapter. It's supposed to be tragic and heart-wrenching. One character even laments that he can't be re-lifed because he doesn't have a memory-cell insert. I simply couldn't buy it because I knew that was bullshit. The character says he can't be re-lifed because "people from Salud Afar don't have memory-cells". Which kinda contradicts an earlier, off-hand piece of main-character dialogue that such people were fitted with memory-cells for their spy work. While the woman crying about it didn't know this, the narrative makes it seem like Hamilton wanted us to believe it too. And at this point I really don't care, because if he can't keep track and a kid like me can, than the characters obviously aren't worth it.

    It tries to tackle the big topics, but doesn't dig in deep enough to make you care. 3 out of 5 in literary terms, but a perfect 5 if dragged-out space opera is your thing.
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    Re: Pandora's Star (review)

    Postby SandChigger » 25 Oct 2009 09:17

    Blick. I've never read any Hamilton, and after this I don't think I'll bother.

    Thanks for the in-depth warning. :D
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    Re: Pandora's Star (review)

    Postby DuneFishUK » 25 Oct 2009 12:33

    Hmm that does sound a bit disappointing - I keep hearing about and meaning to read Hamilton but keep getting put off by the book sizes :P Think I'll give him a miss for the time being.

    Redstar wrote:I was also annoyed at how many times a character was described as being "Oriental". This means nothing to me. There are simply hundreds of groups of "Asians" that can be defined as "Oriental", and in fact the term "Orient" can be just as easily applied to the far eastern Europe or India. It's a broad term. I'm also visually-educated enough to know the difference between a Japanese person and a Filipino. "Oriental" just does not give me a mental image that's particularly helpful. I also know that "Oriental" is an offensive term in the US, though I looked into it and it's apparently acceptable in the UK. Let me know.

    In my experience the word "Asian" almost always applies to people from India, Pakistan etc etc - that neck of the woods, but you also hear it also used for anyone a bit muslim looking (middle east/north africa etc).

    Oriental isn't a word I've heard at all really - in the common vernacular all those sort of people are (correctly or incorrectly) either Chinese, Japanese or interesting enough to actually know where they really came from. Oriental is the accepted catch-all for that neck of the woods... but it's a bit academic (I didn't know it was offensive in the US). I knew one Chinese lass who got upset when someone called her "asian" - I don't know if that was just her though - she was a bit unhinged.

    "Jesus Wept" is a phase you hear from time to time - my old Latin teacher said it a fair bit (It is the shortest sentence in the Bible - FOTD: Fact of the Day). But I wouldn't say it's common by any stretch.
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    Re: Pandora's Star (review)

    Postby Crysknife » 25 Oct 2009 17:55

    He said it was better than Dune? No freaking way, man! As Ozzie would have said it.

    I agree with most of your assessments on the plot and characters, but as an escapist space opera I think it was pretty good. There were times in the story where I felt it was the same rehashed crap I had just read and it seemed to drone on and on, but it wasn't too bad overall.

    Morton did have a very good motive to kill his wife 30 years earlier. By her death he was able to dramatically expand the company they both owned, thereby making them both very wealthy(once she was relifed). People have been convicted for less. That along with the circumstantial evidence was enough.

    Many of the other questions get answered in the next book(Judas Unchained), which is a much better book I might add. If you can make the effort to get to it after this review, that is.

    I would suggest the Reality Dysfunction series if you're going to start something by Hamilton. He can weave a complicated story like no other, but to say it's anywhere near Dune quality like the cover says is absurd. But he is one of the top writers doing science fiction today.
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    Re: Pandora's Star (review)

    Postby Redstar » 25 Oct 2009 18:53

    DuneFishUK wrote:In my experience the word "Asian" almost always applies to people from India, Pakistan etc etc - that neck of the woods, but you also hear it also used for anyone a bit muslim looking (middle east/north africa etc).

    Oriental isn't a word I've heard at all really - in the common vernacular all those sort of people are (correctly or incorrectly) either Chinese, Japanese or interesting enough to actually know where they really came from. Oriental is the accepted catch-all for that neck of the woods... but it's a bit academic (I didn't know it was offensive in the US). I knew one Chinese lass who got upset when someone called her "asian" - I don't know if that was just her though - she was a bit unhinged.

    I'm not exactly sure why Oriental is considered offensive in the US, but it may be because it tends to bring to mind Fu Manchu super-villains that were described as "oriental", so it's simply a case of negro (non-offensive word attached to stereotype) becoming nigger (the origin is overlooked and becomes offensive).

    I did read that some Asians don't like the term Asian, which is entirely fair since it is a big area of the planet with many different cultural and ethnic groups. Simply put, any term that generalizes a people is neither fair nor accurate. I had no idea what the various "Oriental" characters really looked liked, nor did I know how the "African" characters looked, but I would have if he'd simply said "Japanese" or "Somali". Specifics tend to bring you into a story more than generalizations.

    Crysknife wrote:I agree with most of your assessments on the plot and characters, but as an escapist space opera I think it was pretty good. There were times in the story where I felt it was the same rehashed crap I had just read and it seemed to drone on and on, but it wasn't too bad overall.

    I get where you're coming from, and I did enjoy it on some levels... I went from absolutely loathing it to being semi-enthralled, which tended to coincide with the viewpoint character chapter-from-chapter. Note I did grant the book a perfect 5 in terms of space opera, which it really does excel at, but it doesn't hold a candle in comparison to what science fiction has shown to be capable of, and especially falls short as literature.

    Crysknife wrote:Morton did have a very good motive to kill his wife 30 years earlier. By her death he was able to dramatically expand the company they both owned, thereby making them both very wealthy(once she was relifed). People have been convicted for less. That along with the circumstantial evidence was enough.

    I'm aware of that, but it seemed a poor excuse. Paula stated several times that even if Morton's wife had continued to live, the chance of her jeopardizing the companies chances were almost zero. Even if they did break up, the company would have continued on its course. Morton killed his wife to ensure something that was already ensured. Effectively, this was a simple plot-device with the goal of introducing a character. If you have to orchestrate events in your book to make another thing happen, then it's not entirely realistic. Motive should have been further elaborated on so I would see it as something his character would actually do.

    But really, Morton's motive isn't my problem so much as his conviction. Yes, people have been convicted for very little before. Circumstantial evidence has certainly applied. But logic has not. You can use logic when applied to that evidence, but when logic is all you have it just won't stand. Courts (American at least) just don't work that way.

    Crysknife wrote:Many of the other questions get answered in the next book(Judas Unchained), which is a much better book I might add. If you can make the effort to get to it after this review, that is.

    I have the book with me and do plan on reading it to see how much better it may get, but considering Hamilton is working on a third in the series, I'm rather apprehensive about him not resolving anything once again. Besides, another author may be more worth my time. But I will get to it sometime, since I don't like leaving loose threads. Thanks for the recommendation.
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    Re: Pandora's Star (review)

    Postby Omphalos » 25 Oct 2009 23:43

    Objects and places can be modified by "oriental." As for people, the correct term is "Asian."
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    Re: Pandora's Star (review)

    Postby Redstar » 26 Oct 2009 00:45

    Redstar wrote:Paula was actually likable. She was intelligent, reserved, and even seemingly sexually conservative. (I'll get to that part later) I looked forward to her chapters and scenes, and especially wanted to know her background. Surely such a pillar of human intelligence and astuteness had a tragic past or some event in her life that accounts for her OCD and sense of justice?

    I apologize, but I forgot to "get to that later".

    The world Hamilton presents is hypersexualized. It appears that due to rejuvenation and the related process of re-life, effectively "ending" death an the impact on religion, has triggered a sort of second Sexual Revolution. Birth control did it before, rejuve did it this time. That's actually one aspect of the society I particularly enjoyed, but considering how Hamilton fails to entirely expand on the foundations of his world, it wasn't taken in any direction I liked.

    When people are rejuvenated, they come from the tanks at near-20 in appearance with hormonal overload and want to really really fuck. "Silent Worlds" fill this purpose in being installations where the recently-rejuvenated can have consensual, casual sex that remains silent outside of these places. Very '70s.

    While this does function in keeping sexual desire in check, I was immediately intrigued by the possibility of an inter-generational relationship between those of different lives. This was fulfilled with Morton and his young lover Mellanie, with him being a third-lifer and her being a first-lifer (never rejuvenated). This was stated to be frowned upon in society.

    While that may have satiated most readers, I felt the whole concept was untapped. I very much wondered what sort of laws may have cropped up in response to incestuous relationships. A grandfather could very easily rejuve to age 20, and become attractive to his 20-year-old granddaughter. This problem associated with rejuvenation was never brought up, so I felt that Hamilton had once again not really worked out his world too much.


    Another point I'd forgotten to bring up was that every character knows each other. With no exception, every character is revealed in a "twist" to have a previous-life relationship with another person. This includes politicians and project leaders with main character terrorists. In the end, it comes off as "only the big people count". This is very indicative of the genre Hamilton has chosen, space opera, in that he focuses on the BIG things. Even the one minor character seems a token gesture, since his experiences becoming entwined with everyone elses. Really, I was bored and annoyed that out of the quadrillions of lives in the universe, the only important people somehow knew each other.
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    Re: Pandora's Star (review)

    Postby SandChigger » 26 Oct 2009 01:17

    Redstar wrote:When people are rejuvenated, they come from the tanks at near-20 in appearance with hormonal overload and want to really really fuck.

    Reminds me of Scalzi's Old Man's War. :)

    Another point I'd forgotten to bring up was that every character knows each other. With no exception, every character is revealed in a "twist" to have a previous-life relationship with another person. ... Really, I was bored and annoyed that out of the quadrillions of lives in the universe, the only important people somehow knew each other.

    And this sounds like certain shite novels we all know and loathe. :roll:
    I have heard of only one mistake that doesn’t have an explanation for a careful reader...with an open mind. (And, no, I’m not going to tell you what it is!) —KJA

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    I...had written a bunch of Star Wars and X-Files books...that proved not just that I'm a hack, but that I could write in somebody else's universe... —KJA
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