Britain's bestselling SF writer returns to outer space.
In AD 2329, humanity has colonised over four hundred planets, all of them interlinked by wormholes. With Earth at its centre, the Intersolar Commonwealth now occupies a sphere of space approximately four hundred light years across.
When an astronomer on the outermost world of Gralmond, observes a star 2000 light years distant - and then a neighbouring one - vanish, it is time for the Commonwealth to discover what happened to them. For what if their disappearance indicates some kind of galactic conflict? Since a conventional wormhole cannot be used to reach these vanished stars, for the first time humans need to build a faster-than-light star ship, the Second Chance. But it arrives to find each 'vanished' star encased in a giant force field -- and within one of them resides a massive alien civilisation.
©2004 Peter F Hamilton (P)2008 Tantor Media Inc
I read this in print some time ago but when I recently listened to it on audio it seems to have lost some of its magic. What struck me most this time was Hamilton's long-winded explorations of trivia and his excruciating fixation on teenage girls. Almost every female character has a body age of under 19 and Hamilton describes them in detail, normally starting with the breasts. It's a wonder he can write so many books using only one hand.
That aside I do still like the universe he creates and the way he integrates believable future tech into the story. As a creator of believable far-future worlds he's one of the best.
And the narration? No. Just, no. John Lee would make a great newsreader but for a story like this, not a chance. He sounds like a cross between Rising Damp's Rigsby and the host at a spelling bee. He pronounces every syllable with such clarity you can almost hear him winding up before each word, the individual sounds clattering off his tongue like the noise of malfunctioning farm machinery. If he could do this whilst retaining the emotive content directed by the text then maybe I could live with it, but he can't, and I can't.
I enjoyed this book (which is part 1 of a 2 part story - see Judas Unchained for aprt 2) which takes place in the Commonwealth - a version of human kinds future where the stars are within reach via wormholes and you can, mostly, if you're reasonably careful, live forever!
The story is about the discovery of a couple of stars which dissapear, the investigation as to what happened and the subsequent consequences. Hard to write this review without spoliers so I shall skip the detail of the plot and just say it is quite complex and there is a lot of detail but never so much that you end up confused as to who is doing what and why - a triumph in books this large in both size and scope.
The characters are well described and Hamilton spendsa a lot of the time in the book detailing people and places in a infinite detail. There were time's I really thought the book could have been 2/3 of the length but after reading Judas Unchained afterwards I was impressed how pretty much everything came together with good solid reasons for the details in the first (and also the second) book.
I really liked the Commonwealth and the tech and the concept of people living for >200 years allowing them to have several marriages and so on, with the ability to block out bits of the past. I also enjoyed what was discovered at Pandora's Star and felt that how this was described and built up was really very good.
It's a long book, but the pay off is worth it in my opinion. This was my first Hamilton book and I look forward to reading the others.
I see some criticism of the narrator, and it did take me a few chapters to get used to him, but his speech was clear and personally I did not find it a problem. After listening to tyhe sequel as well it's a good job too - must be 50+ hours!
In summary, a great space opera, long and detailed but with some nice ideas. Moderately hard core sci-fi which is easy to read yet epic is scale and scope.
Complex, Detailed and Beautiful
It’s a mix between the paths and the Politics within the commonwealth.
One sitting would be too long but listened to it over 5 days well worth it.
An outstanding story and performance with the need for more each time you pause.
A space-opera on a grand scale, this really is a modern classic. The narration is fabulous, John Lee has a great style, all the main characters have their own voices, that are instantly recognisable, making it a pleasure to listen to. Even better this is a great vision of the future for the human race, not one of the more depressing dystopian affairs.
I originally bought this because of the lengthy run-time (lots of long-distance driving) but this should not put anyone off - it's very easy to listen to, the pace never lets up, and you're through it all too soon. Some of the characters you can't help but love, even some of the more machiavellian (Ozzy, the super-genius surfer dude, is my personal favourite).
For those who like this, Judas Unchained is the sequel that continues the story and is equally as good. I have a feeling, after this, most of Peter Hamilton's books are going to be making their way into my wishlist.
For any SciFi lover this book has it all. The plot is gripping with plenty of truly breathtaking science. I can highly recommend this book as must read. It is up there with the greats of SciFi - Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.
Sonic PriceNamed for a Michael Moorcock Character
This is the first part of two culminating in Judas Unchained. This book, whilst entertaining, proves to be more difficult to engage, as there is much foundation to the plot and characters to be established. Peter Hamilton's description and character development are again superb and this book is well worth the effort, particularly as the second part of the series is 5 Star.
I have listened to a lot of audiobooks, usually as passenger in a car.
Everyone is different, but for me I also could not continue listening to this book. I listened to the preview and thought it was OK, but believe me after a while it is totally brain numbing.
Peter F Hamilton takes ages getting to the point, and likes to describe loads of scene setting stuff and frankly tons of superfluous detail and observations that are of no real relevance to main plot or story. This is OK if reading - but somehow this narrator so slow and tries to dwell on words as if he is enacting a dramatic scene in a dark twisted play - and he does this ALL the time. It's difficult to concentrate on, and he moves from chapters as if there is no break so you sometimes don't realise he's talking about a different scene or person until its a minute in so you have to rewind.
I actually ended up trying to listen to him at 1.5 times speed - and was surprised that even at that speed, some words at the end of his sentences still seemed unnecessarily drawn out. Sounded like a cross between Richard Burton reading in the stye of James T Kirk (the actual character not William Shatner)
This narrator might be good for some styles of books, but definitely not P.F.Hamilton.
In the end I have tried on 3 separate occasions to listen to this in the car - and have decided to give up.
Absolutely love this book!
Set against the backdrop of a world connected by wormholes reducing distances between Earth and the stars combined with the process of rejuvination - the plots, subplots, conspiracy, love, sex - this book is a masterpiece.
Looking forward to getting through the next one!
This is tedious stuff, full of dull rich people, leading meaningless, near-immortal lives. A thousand pages in there is a bit of action when the aliens finally arrive; by now you are hoping for a swift annihilation of the human race, but then you discover that this was only part 1.
This i not a bad book. This book is way to long, but i hate unabridged versions. I haven't finished the book yet, but after 17 hours nothing has happened yet...ohh sorry, the starship has visited the Pandora Star but that is not a part of the story. So far we have only been introduced to the participants in the story and that feels like an unending list op people. You jump back and forth between the characters with no notice and yes, i have lost track. However, after 17 hours two of the characters finally meet so maybe things will start happening now. Not really suited for audio because you have to reference earlier chapters all the time if you wish to keep track of the many participating characters.
"Long Winded But Enjoyable"
Pandora's star is no light read (or should I say listen to), be prepared for a long haul that seems to take, at times forever to get where it's going. You may well believe that Mr Hamilton is paid per page as this detailed at at times rambling tale trundles along the tracks. However the author manages to invent a truly engaging and detailed Universe where Humanity despite being able to practially live forever is in true danger of being wiped out by an alien menace.
However understand that this is only the first part of the series, it isn't a stand alone book. So take the ride, settle in, give it a chance and I think you will enjoy this tale a great deal, the narrator does a fine job of bringing all the characters to life and the story, while long winded this is a very enjoyable one.
"Wonderful & transporting!"
I have been a fan of PFH's work for some time, and jumped at the opportunity to get this audiobook. In short, the material is fabulous and John Lee's confident reading is inspirational. He brings this exciting and non-stop story to life! Thoroughly recommended!
"Awesome story written by a brilliant mind"
The intertwined lives of the various characters and species, but most of all the complete escape from what we call normal, into a world (Sorry I should say galaxy) that just blows your mind.
There were just too many really interesting and funny scenes to single out any in particular, I really enjoy Peter's sense of humour, and John Lee brings this across so nicely
After listening to all of his books on Audible, I started all over again, this is the second time I've listened to The Commonwealth saga, and both books are excellent. This is most definitely a good listen
I would love to meet Peter in person, with a brain that can come up with all the amazing technologies and incredible places and people in the characters in the books as only Peter introduces in his work. He's amazing. Sounds corny but living in one of his worlds sound absolutely amazing, I love listening to his stories.
"And So this Massive Journey Begins"
The grand size of the book surprised and pleased me at the same time. While some of the technical jargon was hard to follow at first the book was dedicated in part to helping me understand and I appreciated this.
I cannot compare anything I have read, but I can say there is a smattering of Brin, Asimov, Bova and even Benford within the text and it was a joy to hear something new that in a way also paid some kind of hommage to these great writers. Hamilton is unique though and this work is not a characature of those that have come before.
I find John Lee to be a good narrator, his clarity is outstanding and his light inflections on tone and voice go a long way in developing a good connection between the story and the listening. I believe any book narrated b y him would be a damn fine listen.
I suppose in the end I could relate well to the character Ozzie and his final outburst matched mine, or I his. It was shock, disappointment, excitement and wonder all rolled into one. I purchased the next book within minutes of completing this one. So, yes, I developed a strong connection with the story and have fallen for the massive world view Hamilton has created.
Don't listen to this in big swathes unless you have time to burn. I did this in short 1 hour blocks which allowed me to consider the story a little before continuing. That helped a great deal with understanding and over all enjoyment.
"lame narration.. could only listen for 2 hours"
love sci fi when doing my cardio and was looking forward to an endless scifi saga, something that hooks you when you do sport. but this narrator does just the opposite. he just could not manage to grab my attention, i really tried hard. his voice is ok, but the tempo is awkward to say the least, his voice flattens at the end of each sentence. terrible. spoiled the content for me. zero stars.
Fast paced, mature, well thought out and awesome. Not suitable for children but great for anyone else.
Now for the sequel...
"Great story, deep characters"
While it is one of those "every detail down to the nose hair" books, the characters are deeply developed.
Hamilton offers an insight into a scientifically plausible future with great insight and interesting story line.
yes a tad long and you must buy the second book but if you like the first hour, you will love the rest. one of those that is hard to press stop.
"Fantastic Sci Fi"
Absolutely love the ideas in this book, Peter F. Hamilton does a brilliant job of fleshing out an extremely interesting and compelling future. Some may be turned off by the wordy descriptions of tech but I absolutely loved that aspect of the book. Maybe the character development isn't quite what it could be but overall I just thought it all came together incredibly successfully. I have to get the next chapter in this saga because of the cliff hanger that it leaves you on. I will definitely check out his other works as well as I am extremely impressed with his tech knowledge and the way he implements that in his story. Fantastic stuff.
Absolutely I will listen to this again. I didn't want this book to end, so many sub-stories within the main text, great characters and the amazing world in which the live.
The Rama series would be the next best thing aside from other Peter F Hamilton books.
I hated John Lee's narration when I first heard him narrate the Dreaming Void, but after a few chapters he settles in and I started to enjoy his narration. The same applied to this book but this time I was expecting it so it did not bug me so much. In the early part of the book he sounds like he is over emphasizing parts of the sentence and overall it sounds to staccato in his speech but then he settles into normal reading pattern as he progresses.
Best series I have ever read, after reading Game of Thrones series it was a pleasure to read a well written series that was as interesting on page one as it was on the last page.
"Pandora and Judas ....so far"
Hooowee!!!!.... strap in for a cosmic ride of scifi seasoned with a pinch of fantasy.
LIke most good eats, this is done to a turn and slow cooked in a faster than light oven that captivates with what's happening now and the aroma of the feasting to come.
You will not want it to finish.... but you will crave for the end........a blissful dilemma
Great science fiction.
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