Proof that even when Hamilton is bad, he s still very good.First things first, let me get this off my chest Long Loooonnnnggg Too long Far, far too long There s not enough story here for the book to be this long and large swathes of the book could and should have been trimmed in any sensible editing process I m guessing that by this stage of his career, the author and his publisher consider page count to be a selling point with Hamilton s audience, so that there s little appeal in doing the sort of editing that this book so desperately needed.Humans have developed stargate technology and have used it to create a few dozen colonies which we have sloppily sprawled into, continuing our polluting and exploitative industries A key part of this is the world of St Libra owned by the North family of clones and responsible for producing most of the human gate system s energy requirements in the form of biooil The gateway to St Libra is in the English city of Newcastle where the dumped body of a North clone is found with bizarre wounds that are similar to that of a mass killing 20 years ago of another North clone and his staff.The story follows the lead investigator of the murder Detective Sidney Hurst and the person accused of the original mass killing, Angela Tramelo Angela has spent the last 20 years in jail after being tortured by the government for information, but due to a genetic legacy she still looks like a teenager The story alternates between Sid s methodical investigation of the North killing and an expedition to St Libra that Angela has been press ganged into joining to find the monster that she believes is responsible for the murders.Nearly all of Hamilton s regular themes are present here Future police work, genetic engineering, nanotech and its implications, stargate technology, interesting aliens, politics economics and stern warnings about stagnation of human progress and technological dead ends However, I believe he s done this story far better in the original two Commonwealth books The Primes and Morning Light Mountain were farinteresting aliens than either the monster in this one or the threat of the Zanth.The first half of this story was like pulling teeth The expedition that dominates the second half of the book doesn t even really start until about 40% and most of the murder investigation to this point is glacial and largely irrelevant to the plot Once things get going in the second half the story gets a lot better, but given the sheer size of this book you need to read about two normal book s worth of dull to get there It makes it all very had to summarize, but I will say that Hamilton does normally do very satisfying endings, and this is definitely one of those. I m afraid that this huge doorstopper of a novel is going to be one of those love hate jobs I now only love it after having finished it, but I felt my stamina drain and drain and drain through long long passages of mind numbing boredom and a litany running through my head went, Where is the editor Why can t these last 150 pages be safely omitted without losing any story whatsoever sigh It s rather the same problem I had with The Reality Dysfunction, although, to be very fair, I think this one was the superior of the two.For one, the whole North thing was highly amusing They re a clan of clones who had built one hell of an empire The worldbuilding was frankly amazing, too The amount of depth and creation was awe inspiring, although, to be realistic, it was mostly filled with names and places and huge Zanthswarm worries, so we can mostly just chalk that up to consistency and organizational charts After all is said and done, everything appears in order All the long passages of time spent in either the present where things don t seem to be getting anywhere, or the even longer time spent in flashbacks that were, to my built understanding, already gone over fairly well in present dialog.And here s where my complaints come in.For ninety percent of this huge novel, we were treading over slightly shifting ground, either past or present It was only very late in the reading that I realized that the MAIN MAIN MAIN character was Angela The murder mystery was actually rather entertaining, with all the complicated issues of discovering who or what was behind the murder of a North, but I only had the vague sensation that a slightly important bit player, Angela, was something special I m here to tell you now, dear reader, to just ignore everyone else and focus on her The other stories are fine, but in the end, they all just revolve around her You can say that all roads lead to Angela, and you d be just fine.You see, that s the problem with a novel that is allowed to be so freaking huge and detailed and dense to develop a life of its own It s hard to tell who s most important I believed Sid and the investigation was the most important I believed it for a freaking long time And then a painfully long backstory for a minor character dominates the novel And other long backstories of others start cropping up And thenlong backstories start growing like some intelligent plant that has grown to be the most genetically dominant life form of a whole planet, driving away all animal and insect life Whoa, where did that come from Oh hell It s a spoiler Sorry What should I say to anyone struggling to get through this novel as they hit these wtf moments Patience Just have patience I wanted to DNF it I really did But since I just don t pull that crap, I flogged myself to stay on target.What do you know It paid off Everything converged and wove a pretty awesome tapestry of coolness I sure as hell got a huge primer on Angela I even enjoyed the detailed existence of all those Norths.Another problem Maybe I m just a shallow reader, but I probably would have reacted better and had my flagging attention sit up straighter had I known that such cool action and conflict and Important Shit was happening later on both the Earth and St Libra The BIG THINGS THAT HAPPEN could have been intimated earlier, such as when the murder investigation stalled A Really Big Hook would have revved my engines right about then.Reader advisory Things Do Get Cool If you re patient If you re patient And after all is said and done, I STILL think a liberal dose of a red pen would have done this novel a great justice That being said, I m still giving it a 4 star because the opening, great swaths of the story, and the ending were all pretty damn cool Do you like clones and aliens Do you like epic invasions and being an invader Do you like murder mysteries and questioning the nature of humanity Well good You ll probably like this novel It s nothing if not ambitious as fuck. 1087 pages UK arc editionOnly a few points for now with adetailed review later I finished Great North Road by Peter Hamilton and on the whole I am a little mixed addictive but very self indulgent, a new universe and a somewhat fresh take on the author s usual themes long life, the rich, sense of wonder, detailed world building, alien aliens but also a lot of repetitionsThis is truly a book that should have been slimmed down considerably and could have easily done with much less from the Newcastle police investigation which takes probably about half the novel and gets very boring after a while Also lots of mannerisms that are funny once or twice but get tired quite fast, with pet the worst offender by a lot.If you are a fan of the author, you will most likely enjoy this though I bet you will shake your head at the self indulgence editor, editor, editor , otherwise go and read Reality Dysfunction, Pandora s Star, the Dreaming Void, the Mandel books and even Fallen Dragon which had some great stuff despite its structural weaknessEdit I went fast again through the book and on the second read it definitely improved in so far I knew to avoid the large chunk dealing with the Newcastle police investigation and just focus on Angela s saga which is actually excellent so I am changing to a recommended book as about half the book though it mostly starts after about 300 pages or so is indeed the vintage PF Hamilton I had expected, while the rest which should have been compressed to about a fifth is skip able without missing that much.Read Angela s story and browse through the Newcastle investigation and you will have a much better experience reading the book and will appreciate ita superb PFH is hidden in this self indulgent way bloated novel and this is the way to discover itOneedit after a second reread of the part of the novel outside the police procedural so about 600 1100 pages which clarified why I felt so let down to start with and why my opinion has improved dramatically since If you get stalled into the book, start at page 232 and look up the chapter with Angela early in prison etc and then skip everything that takes place in Newcastle no loss as anyway what happens there is updated for the heroes of the space opera part in a few lines every now and then except towards the end and you will have one of the most gripping reads of PFH I reread oncethose parts yesterday and I was evenimpressed and if the book would have consisted only of those probably 600 pages or so, it would have been awesome and one of the best PFH the police procedural though that takes the other 500 or so pages is just booo ring to the nth power except for the last couple of chapters or soThe problem is that of the the first 232 pages, most are the police stuff and i easily see people being turned off and putting the book down when they read the nth detail about how to track a taxi and the like If you ve not read one of my reviews beforeHello, lovely to meet you My name is Chris, but I m here on Goodreads under the handle of Clouds because I thought it was a rather nifty moniker one which captures neatly what stories are to me subjective shapes seen in the random patterns of clouds, snatched down and bound with words to share with friends over a good cuppa.Some of my reviews are firmly on topic, but others tend to waffle and wander I m a firm believer that a readers opinion of a book is rooted solidly in what s going on in their life at that time, and what elements of the book resonate with their experiences So I think it s good to have a bit of context around a review, and a reviewer.OK OK I ve prevaricated enough We re having another baby I ve wanted to share that for a while This is the book I was reading when we found out and for me it will always be emotionally linked with that delightful discovery any and all opinions expressed here are tinged with the pride and joy that comes bundled up with the expectation of a new baby This will be our second and I adore being a Dad I could talk about this all day Will you shut up already and tell me something about the bookSighIf you ve never read any of Peter Hamilton s work Great North Road would be an interesting place to start He s a writer of epic space opera, with big emphasis on the EPICNESS of it all He generally writes series, with each book in the series being a kitten squisher unto itself He s good in my opinion, very, very good I d go out on a limb and call him the best sci fi author to never win a big award.So if you ve not yet read any of his work good move checking him out But would I start here Great North Road is a stand alone novel, not part of a series, so it s less of a commitment But this is still a HUGE book, and it has some inevitable pacing issues as a consequence of that so, on reflection, this is probably not the best place to start I d recommend Mindstar Rising as a yummy first taste Yes, it s the first in the Greg Mandel series, but it s a closed ending story not dependant on the sequels They re space opera detective stories about a military prototyped psychic private eye, working for a downloaded personality whose body has been murdered in a near future, global warming flooded, post revolution England They re excellent books, and half the size, half the complexity, half the reader calories of his big works.Most people who ve ended up here are probably existing Hamilton fans You ve probably read Night s Dawn, The Commonwealth Saga and or The Void Trilogy and are wondering how this one ranks against them Well, I ve read all his works except one short story collection and an old, rare YA book and have him listed on my literary Pantheon of very favouritest authors so I m probably well qualified to field this one.Let me allay any fears to start with it s good, alright If the four star rating didn t already tell you that It s not perfect, but it s a damn fine book.It s near future compared with his other works Humans have wormhole technology and have branched out to other worlds so far, so Hamilton The story focuses on just Earth, and one other planet St Libra, which is very restrained for Hamilton The alien angle is interesting humans have encountered something called the Zanth which is like a weird cool giant quantum crystal space plague THING It comes out of nowhere, starts crashing rocks into planets which grow, encase everything, and then absorb them it s not sentient in any known way, but it only seems to target inhabitated planets and there s no way to fight it the human effort is based on stalling the Zanth while we try and evacuate the afflicted planet None of this is a spoiler because Great North Road isn t about the Zanth at all, it s just an incidental thing going on in this universe that I thought was very cool This books revolves around the Norths a human clone army family business They re megarich They run a whole industrial planet They all look identical One of them turns up dead in the river All hell breaks loose The story is set in Newcastle, which was a very nice touch gotta love the Geordie vernacular and one major thread follows Sid, the cop on the case It s the biggest case ever Limitless budget, some very nice police technology a good sci fi C.S.I thread, and Sid and his close crew of coppers are a very likeable bunch The bad guys have done a top drawer job though, so this is a tough case to crack and this thread is a little light on the action.The other major thread covers a military mission to St Libra, the industrial planet run by the North clone corporation There is evidence to suggest there may be a sentient, hostile alien species somewhere in the jungles of St Libra St Libra is a frickin weird planet, and not long after the mission gets out deep into the tropical jungle, cut off from all civilization, the cosmological tables get turned in truly epic fashion This is the action thread, but that s something of a misnomer as this is really a gothic horror inspired suspense and mystery thread Lots of atmosphere, lots of creepy shapes in the shadows, if you catch my drift This isn t Hamilton s usual style, but I think he handles it very well.That s as much as I m going to share plot wise there are a few minor thread characters, some flashbacks, etc, but by and large it chugs along on these two axles I m also very pleased and relieved to say that the ending does not disappoint There s always the risk after such a long journey that the conclusion will be anticlimactic, but I thought he did a very solid job of managing the momentum I guessed the ending just early enough to feel smart, without having it ruined, which probably means he got the foreshadowing spot on.It took me an age to read Great North Road , due to other things going on in my life, but it was always a pleasure to dive back into For me, he s a writer who never disappoints big, bold and imaginative, yet his characters are always very human One of the most underrated sci fi writers working and this is an excellent addition to his catalog After this I read Spin That Was brilliant It took me three weeks to read this nearly 1000 page monster of a book Normally that would seem like a long time on one book, but not here A busy schedule kept me from devoting large chunks of time to it, but that was okay I was able to savor it I d never read Hamilton before, and now I m a fan It s rare for a book this size to churn along without boring parts, but this had very few of those Part mystery, action adventure, police procedural, epic scale space opera, and human psychological drama, this made for a fantastic experience.It s a stand alone novel, so there is no next book to pick up I will be readingHamilton though, that is certain. Peter F Hamilton writes large He writes 1000 page behemoths of narrative And he writes with ideas that are space and time spanning, far beyond the usual windows of ordinary lives And his words are imbued with the power of ideas and concepts far above today s water cooler subjects Yet, despite the immense dimensions of his imagination, he keeps it all within reach, grounded on human sensibilities, maintaining a keen sense of the grand human drama So in this decidedly large book, Hamilton mixes together inscrutable alien swarms, cloned megalomaniacs, monsters with bladed fingers, interworld portals, smart personal networks, sentient worlds, manufactured oil, medically enabled longevity, with recognizable and easily accessible characters a persistent police investigator, a deeply religious military spook, a seemingly helpless woman wrongly imprisoned, three clones who pursue three separate ambitions of wealth, long life and freedom and vast and sundry characters that a reader from the 21st century can easily relate to He weaves a tale that could simultaneously be categorized as crime mystery, political intrigue, spy military, green environmental survivalist, alien first encounter, family drama love story, action SF all interlaced together in Hamilton s insistent style that impels and brooks no doubt that you, the reader, will hold your disbelief.From my perspective, the most powerful aspect of this sprawling, decidedly Anglo centric book, that which holds it together and fills it with passionate motivation and narrative impetus, is the story of Angela Compared to her the rest of the characters seem quite mundane Or, conversely, without her, this big, booming behemoth of a book may have failed to engage Hamilton has clearly improved with practice from the Mandel detective stories, to the Nights Dawn series, onto the Void trilogy and now the amazing feat of Great North Road One thing I can say is read Hamilton now and savor his work while he is at his inventive and imaginative best, for a hundred years hence who knows how we would appreciate his writing in the light of different s This book followed the traditional pattern I have found in this author detailed astrophysics, well elaborated and constructed worlds, highly integrate characters and sophisticated plots that run concurrently, along with parts that slog down to a near grinding halt.There are times this author keeps me fascinated The plot moves quickly, events shock me, and I am riveted Then I reach parts where everything crawls to a halt The details in his world building are enormous So enormous, in fact, my mind has a hard time getting around all of them.This book read like a serial killer mystery novel It reminds me a little of his incident with the Starflyer in the Commonwealth series Is there an alien Is there a serial killer Is it a corporate plot The best parts are when the suspense mounts and the environments of St Libra are explored in detail There are times I was transported to another world in my mind, which is, after all, why I read Hamilton has the ability to be able to do this the problem is it fluctuates between that and mind numbing details that completely overwhelm a new setting.I seem to have discovered an art to reading this author I am able to read the huge amount of detail built into a scene, while extracting what is necessary to move eon and leave the rest in a sort of blur of words The science fiction ideas are big Not as big as those found in Commonwealth, but certainly not small The book racks in at over 900 pages, which goes a lot faster than it sounds Each 100 passed by fairly quickly The pacing is quick enough to make up for the slow parts, and the story ends in a satisfying, if deliberate, manner 4.0 stars. Things I learnt from this book 1 Rich sociopaths are awesome and we should let them do what they want because they are much better at governance and science than faceless bureaucrats.2 Long expeditions into boring jungle are boring.3 1000 pages requiresthan two major plots and one minor.4 Approximately 600 pages of this book could have been removed without affecting the plot.5 There s no happy ending too pat that can t be used in a welded on ending. imagine a 13 year old boy genius he loves science fiction, he loves world building, he loves physics and biology and all the sciences he also loves his family and he definitely loves girls he loves binge watching exciting tv shows he s open minded and appreciates diversity overall this is a great kid and I d be happy to know him now imagine if this boy genius were to write a book what would it be full of it would be full of GEE WHIZ EXCITEMENT of course and spaceships and alien threats and super science and super powered advanced humans who can live centuries and clones and xenobiology and a Jupiter orbital and dangerous futuristic weapons and gateways to other worlds and scary alien threats and military threats too because humans are trigger happy and if there s military that means some torture too and a complex future history complete with a timeline and cast of characters hey maybe it will have a detective story in it, a crime mystery and so it will have world weary cops and corporate espionage and gangsters and devious criminals and all the details of a police procedural and don t forget, it will have the girls in particular a really hot girl who is super smart and cunning and righteous and powered by secret weapons and she has a glamorous past and a tough past too, she s the whole package and since she s in it, that means a couple sexy sex scenes too, yay all that is great, but because this is a good boy who has a supportive family, it will also have a lot about family in it too because good families are awesome yay for awesome families yay for GEE WHIZ EXCITEMENT so all those exclamation points above may lead you to believe that I am being sarcastic and old man ish and that this is a bad review well, if you thought that, you would be wrong don t be so cynical Peter Hamilton is one of my favorites he s not subtle and Great North Road is elephantine like most of his stuff, but he does know how to write and he knows how to create an absorbing narrative that is full of fascinating speculation and intriguing flashbacks and fun fun gee whiz fun it hit me right in my inner 13 year old boy thanks, Hamilton this book did not challenge me in any way, but who cares, it sure hit the spot and it was great to be immersed in this mega book for most of January. A Century From Now, Thanks To A Technology Allowing Instantaneous Travel Across Light Years, Humanity Has Solved Its Energy Shortages, Cleaned Up The Environment, And Created Far Flung Colony Worlds The Keys To This Empire Belong To The Powerful North Family Composed Of Successive Generations Of Clones Yet These Clones Are Not Identical For One Thing, Genetic Errors Have Crept In With Each Generation For Another, The Original Three Clone Brothers Have Gone Their Separate Ways, And The Branches Of The Family Are Now Friendly Rivals Than Allies Or Maybe Not So Friendly At Least That S What The Murder Of A North Clone In The English City Of Newcastle Suggests To Detective Sidney Hurst Sid Is A Solid Investigator Who D Like Nothing Better Than To Hand Off This Hot Potato Of A Case The Way He Figures It, Whether He Solves The Crime Or Not, He Ll Make Enough Enemies To Ruin His Career Yet Sid S Case Is About To Take An Unexpected Turn Because The Circumstances Of The Murder Bear An Uncanny Resemblance To A Killing That Took Place Years Ago On The Planet St Libra, Where A North Clone And His Entire Household Were Slaughtered In Cold BloodThe Convicted Slayer, Angela Tramelo, Has Always Claimed Her Innocence And Now It Seems She May Have Been Right Because Only The St Libra Killer Could Have Committed The Newcastle Crime Problem Is, Angela Also Claims That The Murderer Was An Alien Monster Now Sid Must Navigate Through A Byzantine Minefield Of Competing Interests Within The Police Department And The World S Political And Economic Eliteall The While Hunting Down A Brutal Killer Poised To Strike Again And On St Libra, Angela, Newly Released From Prison, Joins A Mission To Hunt Down The Elusive Alien, Only To Learn That The Line Between Hunter And Hunted Is A Thin One
Peter F Hamilton is a British science fiction author He is best known for writing space opera As of the publication of his tenth novel in 2004, his works had sold over two million copies worldwide, making him Britain s biggest selling science fiction author.
- 1087 pages
- Great North Road
- Peter F. Hamilton
- 06 December 2019 Peter F. Hamilton