First thing first. Pandora’s Star is a great book. It’s exciting and interesting and original. It is to Sci-Fi what Tad Williams’ Otherworld is to Fantasy: epic, sweeping, exploratory –full of awesome and strange worlds that house interesting and sympathetic characters. Weeks after finishing it I’m still mulling over certain themes and situations. That said, I have a few words for Mr. Hamilton...
Dude. Seriously. Close to a thousand pages and you couldn’t write a damn ending to your book? Really? A cliffhanger is the best you could manage? Oh, and we need to have a little discussion about character names. In the first 50ish pages, you accidentally named 2 characters “Nigel.” One is a major player, and one is a little bit-character. I know this sort of thing happens in real life, but do me a favor and don’t confuse me while reading. On a related note, it would be fantastic if you could do a better job differentiating your characters and making them memorable. You had it down by the 2/3 mark of the book, but for at least 500 pages it was a struggle to figure out who was who. Oh, speaking of things you had down by the end of the book – good god could your chapter structure have BEEN more formulaic at the start? For hundreds of pages every single chapter started with a character-context-free, long-winded description of a technology or planet that went on for pages and pages before you finally remembered what was going on and reigned yourself in with a quiet little “ahem, where was I? Oh yeah, I was supposed to be talking about THIS character.” I know from the second half of the book that you can build worlds and environments incredibly well without going on tangential rants – why didn’t you apply that approach to the first half of the book?
*pant...pant... deeeeep breath*
Sorry. That got away from me a bit. I don’t know why anyone ever lets me rant.
Anyway, I obviously had quite a few gripes about Pandora’s Star but for all of that it was a fantastic read and I will absolutely be picking up the sequel. I loved Hamilton’s world building and his ideas about technology were incredibly cool. I was especially impressed by his investigation of body rejuvenation and the potential effects on marriage, friendship, and family. Maybe it’s just my lack of sci-fi reading for the past 10 years, but I also thought it was insightful to come up with a space exploration mechanism that made ships and shuttles obsolete. Like I said – still mulling over the book’s themes weeks later.
Bottom line: I think I’d classify Pandora’s Star as a staple of any sci-fi diet. Yes, it tweaked quite a few of my pet peeves, but it also managed to pretty much blow me away. Excellent.