Book Review – Pandora’s Star

Pandora's Star (Commonwealth Saga, #1)Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had recently become very annoyed by the fact that a lot of science fiction I was reading had a lot of fantasy elements in them. Series like the Saga of the Seven Suns by Kevin Anderson had the right setting but the characters and their magical abilities turned me off. To put it in main stream sci-fi terms, I was looking for Star Trek not Star Wars. I was looking for a more realistic telling of a human space future not a story that took place in a galaxy far far away.

Hamilton delivered nearly 100% for me with Pandora’s Star, almost to a fault. The book has a very, very slow beginning as Hamilton introduces you to his characters and the vast universe they live in. The mixture of science and politics is what eventually got me hooked.

The post singularity/rejuvenation setting was at first a little jarring. While many futurists see a time where we are able to store our memories and personality as data and move from physical shell to physical shell, I’ve never considered it to be hard science. But it is so very much at the center of the Hamilton’s story that it is hard to not come around to the idea. Eventually it became more reality to me, rather than fantasy.

Hamilton also does a masterful job of mixing in the mundane with the grander story. While scientists and politicians are dealing with the Dyson Pair there is what seems a inconsequential investigation 130 years in the making as well as a personal journey by one of the universes major pioneers. Progressing through the book you do not realize that these stories have just as much impact as the ones that are directly involved with the main plot. It wasn’t until the last few chapters that I realized how all the stories were coming together.

I listened to the Audible version of the book which is narrated by the great John Lee. I had first listened to him narrate the fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, ‘A Feast for Crows’. The only objection I had to him then was that he wasn’t Roy Dotrice, who had read the first three books in the series. He also narrated Ken Follet’s ‘Pillars of the Earth’ and ‘World Without End’ which is when I became a huge fan of his. He also performs ‘Judas Unchained’ and the Void Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton, the former being a direct sequel to ‘Pandor’s Star’, the latter being a continuation of the same universe. Because of John Lee I’m already sold on listening to the Audible version of the four books.

I would strongly recommend this book to any science fiction fan, especially those who may favor Star Trek over Star Wars. Hamilton has created a true space epic that, for lack of a better phrase, is still down to earth.

View all my reviews


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