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Pandora's Star (The Commonwealth Saga Book 1) by [Hamilton, Peter F.]
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Pandora's Star (The Commonwealth Saga Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 435 customer reviews

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Length: 992 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hamilton's exhilarating new opus proves that "intelligent space opera" isn't an oxymoron. By the 24th century, the vast human Commonwealth has spread from Earth via artificial wormholes. Various benign or seemingly indifferent alien races have been encountered during exploration of new planets, but an astronomer sparks curiosity by announcing that a pair of stars is enclosed by a mysterious energy barrier. [...] The author deftly juggles many characters in multiple plot lines, sometimes slowing down the action briefly, at other times racing forward. Revelations late in the book will have readers scurrying back to earlier pages to reinterpret what they initially thought. Not many SF writers are capable of tackling such a big project so confidently. In this respect, Hamilton (Fallen Dragon) resembles a less cheery but very tech-savvy—and extremely paranoid—Charles Dickens. Given the abrupt cliffhanger of an ending, some may prefer to save this massive installment until the story's conclusion, Judas Unleashed, appears next year. Anyone who begins this one, however, probably won't be able to put it down.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Hamilton creates a dense, thoroughly defined twenty-fourth-century world, in which humanity has colonized the stars, thanks to the discovery of wormhole travel, and established a successful commonwealth. The species has even encountered aliens and space-faring artifacts. One remaining mystery is the barrier around stars known as the Dyson Pair. Human curiosity still being what it is, a spaceship capable of faster-than-light travel (thanks to those wormholes again) goes to investigate. When what's behind the barrier is discovered, the thrill-ride really starts. Aliens formerly trapped inside it, fighting over limited resources, are freed to invade human space. Unfortunately, that is more or less where this book leaves us, but a sequel is in the works. Hamilton's attention to character development makes the slow buildup to a dizzyingly destructive denouement rewarding, and all the little subplots and threads one hopes will be tied back to the main thread keep it complex and engaging. Hamilton is never simple, and even his aliens are well written, complex creations with their own motivations. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 5287 KB
  • Print Length: 992 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345479211
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st edition (March 2, 2004)
  • Publication Date: October 26, 2006
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1AFC
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,164 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Most readers know Peter Hamilton from his Night's Dawn trilogy, published in this country in six volumes. Pandora's Star is the first volume in another sprawling (and I do mean sprawling) series. The book begins with the discovery that two distant linked solar systems have been isolated by a force field. Because the observation is made visually, this means that the event occurred hundred of years ago. This event leads the Commonwealth, an organization of the human planets, to investigate. Whoever could put a force field around such a tremendous area would be very possible. And what is the motive? Is the force field meant to keep others out, or those living in the system in?
In a break from Hamilton's early books, as Pandora's Star opens, humanity does not use star ships for faster than light travel. Rather, wormholes are used to link distant worlds. Thus, one of the first things that must be done is to build a ship capable of faster than light travel. Other aspects of Hamilton's future are near-immortality, a terrorist group obsessed with the idea that an alien has taken over the government, and various alien races that seem indifferent to human population, and whose motives are not apparent.
Those who've read Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy will not be surprised at his practice of introducing many characters and separate plot lines that will (one hopes) converge eventually. Some of these plots are so separate from the main plot as to seem to exist only to establish background of the characters. Indeed, at time the books seems to consist of short stories set in the same future but having no other connection. For example, we follow a police inspector investigating a 40 year old murder case relates to the main plot in a tangential (at best) way.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me start off by saying I enjoyed this book a lot. I have only two quibbles, but they prevent me from giving it 5 stars. Quibbles first.

The narrative style gets in the way of both the story and the characters. Except in a few places, the action is told almost entirely via narration; we don't discover the characters, we are told about them. As a result only a few characters stand out. The narrator's filter occludes the rest. SImilarly, the action and the character's interactions are described by the narrator, rather than playing out by themselves. I know that some like this style, but I don't.

My other quibble is that the books stops halfway through the story, at a cliff-hanger. This is mitigated by it being an actual CLIFF-hanger, but I'm not fond of this wait-til-next-episode stuff. Next episode is March 2005, BTW.

Now, having griped, I must admit I enjoyed this book immensely. The rich portrayals of the 25th Century society, politics and economics all ring true. The implications of indefinite life, told in passing, are interesting, especially as they add to a body of other current work (e.g. MacLeod, Morgan). The natural refusal of all concerned to believe in (or adequately prepare for) the several dooms that are approaching, and the coming end of their Golden Age, are completely human and completely tragic. In many ways its an allegory for our own times.

If Amazon had a listing for the next book, I'd have ordered it already.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The title sums up my opinion of Pandora's Star. It was a decent book, a fun read, with moments of brilliant action and pure wonder. However, these moments were rather thinly spread through a very large, bulky book that should have been trimmed to about half its actual size.

A glance at my bookshelf will reveal that I have nothing against long books per se. However, in order for a book that weighs in at over 1,000 pages to be worthwhile, it needs to have enough action to fill that many pages, and it should not punish the reader with the appearance of complication for complication's sake. Pandora's Star fails on this latter count. The narrative wanders this way and that, and it takes nearly half of the book for the major narrative thrust to become clear. The tangents and asides are numerous and long. A murder mystery takes up a major part of the first third of the book, but it turns out to have no relation or relevance to the rest of the story except as an introduction to the detective and the murderer's girlfriend. There are so many characters that you will be tempted to take notes to keep track of them, and it's impossible to tell which ones are actually important and which ones are merely prop-pieces in yet another 75-page expository tangent.

This adds up to a significant strike against the book. However, if you are able to look past these flaws, and perhaps skim some of the longer and less interesting chapters, you'll find at least a handful of truly compelling characters (like the multi-billionaire hippie wormhole inventor) and a truly intriguing, multi-layered story. If you make it to the end, you'll probably find that you enjoyed it, especially as your brain will edit out the parts that shouldn't have been there in the first place.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
OK usually I don't do spoilers, but here I will transcribe a portion of the second-to-last sentence of this book: "You've got to be f***ing kidding me!"

Actually that's the reaction I had when I got to about the 95% point of this behemoth, when I realized there was no possible way the author was going to tie it all up in the remaining space in the book. It's the length of three normal books and he still couldn't manage to finish his story.

This thing is so bloated with side plots and characters with superfluous backstories and storylines that don't appear to go anywhere, that it was a real chore to read. It was only mildly interesting for about the first 50% (which mind you is equivalent of about 500 pages). Then it got a bit more interesting. But with still a lot of filler and uninteresting characters and side plots, that it's hardly worth it.

What is worth it, for a while at least, is learning about the Dyson aliens. What's not worth it are (a) all the Commonwealth politics with the grand families and so forth, and (b) the boring family that lives on Elan, and (c) probably other things that I've already forgotten.

Anyway, the last sci-fi novel I read where at about the 95% point I said, "dang, he's not going to be able to wrap this up in the space remaining" was "Hyperion". And I felt compelled to immediately throw down my money and buy "Fall of Hyperion", that's how interested I was to know what happened next, even though it was drawn out over an entire novel. With "Pandora's Star" I am much less excited to throw down my money to read the next one, which is probably another 1000 pages of which 200 will be worth reading.

As to the novel itself - apart from the ridiculous length - parts of it are genuinely interesting and intriguing.
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