Marc - Column for 10/27

"Judas Unchained" by Peter Hamilton

I just finished this book about a week ago or so. I missed a signing by him at the Forbidden Planet here in London, but I did get a copy of the book on release day. It is the conclusion to the story that started in Pandora's Star. Like most who enjoy the space opera genre, I enjoy the long span of a multi-volume series, but the conclusion of the story in two books was a bit refreshing.

Much like other Hamilton work, this one was set in a moderately distant future that has some fundamental technological advances that have shaped the culture. There are two that really stand out: (1) gateways and (2) re-lifing. Gateways are a way of having instantaneous travel between almost any two points of space. The further the two points the higher the energy required, so there is some limiting factor. The second is re-lifing. Basically, it allows people to either be revitalized, if there body is still extent, or for full fledged clones to be recreated, if the bodies are destroyed. The re-lifing hints at the process used by the shadow, governing council of Earth in Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction series. The question of souls and are the new clones really the old people is only hinted at in this story. I thought the way it was explored in the Reality Dysfunction series was pretty well done, and I was kinda glad to not see it again.

Given that backdrop, the crux of the story is about a far-flung conspiracy, the unraveling of that conspiracy, and the devastating invasion of a truly alien lifeform. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of Pandora's Star that were from the perspective of MorningLightMountain. Overall, the characters are reasonable enough, and Hamilton doesn't err in making too many main protagonists. It is a decent to good story, with a not completely unsurprising ending. I enjoyed the book and think that anyone who liked Pandora's Star will probably like the stories conclusion.


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The big thrust of this book was to flush out all the Starflyer agents and to convince "important" folks that the alien was real. I thought the tightness of the story was relatively good, but the way everything seemed to resolve itself in the end was a bit of a let down for me. Suddenly, they had weapons to eradicate them, and suddenly, Ozzie figured out how to turn the barrier back on. As a fan of space opera, I do enjoy reading Hamilton, but the two series of his that I've read (Reality Dysfunction and this) have both been beaten pretty soundly with the Deus Ex Machina stick. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does seem to lessen the hardship the characters face, if at the end, suddenly everything is relatively good and happy.

Columns by Marc