Having just finished, in very short succession, both Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained and I can't decide if I absolutely love Peter F. Hamilton or if his prose is better suited to small screen mid-afternoon romances. There is certainly enough sex in his novels to qualify him for the second, more dubious honor.
Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained were so engrossing and so filled with vivid detail that I couldn't help, one frantic run to the bookstore later, finish both books the same week. And these are both big books. Thanks for the recommendation Mark!
So, here is my dilemma. Mr. Hamilton's writing is solid, his characters just pop, and his back-story is flawless. To top it all off, he manages to make his action scenes feel like 3D blockbuster movies. Then again, it all gets a little repetitive and, sometimes, he seems to get a little bogged down in the details. A layer cake with too many layers if you will. Regardless. Given the few sparse facts I just gave you, I need help deciding whether Peter is a dorito or a pringle, a memorable pro or a cheap thriller.
I obviously know that there is a middle-ground, that he doesn't have to be one or the other. And yet, the whole thing rides the razor's edge between cheesy and epic - sometimes even explicitly playing with that very tension. Do you know what I'm talking about here or am I not making any sense? Robert Jordan or Terry Brooks?
To be fair, the Void trilogy that follows these two books is much more polished and dignified. Weird that a book can be dignified right, but its the best I can describe it. Most definitely, the relative absence of sex plays into that.
So, laying all this out has actually been very helpful. An internal monologue if you will that has helped me reach the following conclusion. Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained are two very good, very active books that are a strong example of a diligent imagination and sustained eloquence. Even so, they are early examples of Peter's talent and so should be appreciated in the overall framework of his oeuvre. QED
There we go, problem solved. Oh, and as a consequence I highly recommend both books. Space opera on a truly grand scale that will titillate the hard sci-fi fan with its ideas and execution. Also, the sheer number of characters a la Jordan will make the books an instant win for any epic fantasy fans... because you guys like lots of characters right?