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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 starship, 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.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm more of a fantasy girl than sci fi - although I certainly read a fair amount of both - but this was genuinely interesting. I found it a little tricky to get into at first, there were a lot of technical parts involving no small amount of physics that took some time for me to wrap my head around. Its not for the faint-hearted or easy-read club that's for sure. Having said that once I got into it I devoured it in a matter of hours - could not put it down. Hamilton has a quirky way of drowning you in information (in a good way) yet still managing to create interesting, believable, and likable characters. This book most definitely left me wanting more, its a truly absorbing read.
Wowzers! What a book... and this is just the first installment of a series! A long-time fan of Peter's literary works, I was very interested to see if he would follow in the Night's Dawn style of technology, with biotechnology vs nanotechnology... nope, whole new stuff in here folks, whole different version of the universe in fact.
This had the advantage of giving him a whole new free reign to weave a new story, without having to risk contradicting 'known facts' - a common theme when you have fans who will pick your stories to bits and hassle over the smallest error or ambiguity. (Don't believe it happens? Go to any sci-fi convention and just watch.)
I found this book a bit hard to get into at first, but I suspect that was because I was unable to sit down and dig right in due to workload pressures. However, by the 4th chapter or so I was really enjoying the read quite intensely. With some very detailed, and internally-consistant science and quantum physics going on, it really engaged both sides of my brain. That's a rare thing for me, most books stimulate either one side or the other, but rarely both.
The aliens he creates are varied in form, function and culture, and range from near-godlike aliens who get addicted to the digitally-stored memories of humans, through to a giant slug-like creature that talks with patterns of ultra-violet light. From the mystic Silfen (the original creatures that inspired the Fairy myths) to the overly logical Prime, locked away behind the esoteric forcefields that surround the Dyson Pair. They are all equally strange, yet easy to understand thanks to Peter's easy style of writing.
Overall, I was very impressed, and eagerly anticipate another brilliant series in the making. Though it was a little hard to keep track of the many sub-plots, it was easy to see the overall pattern forming, despite the red-herrings and twists popping up all over the place. Roll on book 2!
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