I cannot remember how long it has been since I had a SciFi book that is so enthralling that it made me want to skip work/school to be able to finish it; Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton is such a work. This book is immediately followed by Judas Unchained to compete the Commonweath Saga and later followed by The Void trilogy which is comprised of The Dreaming Void, The Temporal Void and The Evolutionary Void. Together these books construct a plausible future that promise growth and evolution for the humanity through technology and discovery.
Pandora’s star is set in 2380 at a time where the human race has discovered wormhole technology and uses it to colonize other worlds and transmit data streams at faster than light speed. Humanity has also discovered near immortality with their (stem-cell research derived) ability to rejuvenate bodies to prevent death due to old age and by recording human memories to crystalline devices embedded in the skull –so the unexpectantly deceased can be re-lifed into a newly cloned body with all memories intact (or edited).
Most of the populace in the 24th century also have organic circuitry tattoos (OCTattos) that serve to interface directly from the human nervous system to control external machines/electronics. This technology also allows direct connectivity to the Unisphere (the galactic Internet) and options for additional physical enhancements such as enhanced strength, augmented vision, scanning devices, etc.
Artificial intelligence has been created by copying human memory patterns and people tired up rejuvenation can upload their memories to the AI when they are ready for final death. The largest of these is the Sentient Intelligence (SI) and it occupies its own planet and lesser Restricted Intelligences (RI) supplement everyday use systems.
The book opens with a little of background on the multiple characters that appear through the series and then focus on a pair of stars that have disappeared- supposedly enclosed by Dyson spheres. There are numerous sub-plots and threads that seem to be completely unrelated but eventually everything comes together in the end of Judas Unchained. If you watched the Battlestar Galactica spin-off series Caprica, you might know the complexity and entertainment value that the multiple threads create- and the ultimate feeling of satisfaction when they all come together.
Not to give any of the plot away- but it is a very good read; aliens, spiritual journeys, detectives, terrorists, starships- it is all in there. All of the characters are uniquely human and the technological statu quo for the future seems like an expected evolution from current trends.
The Void trilogy is set 1,200 years after the end of Judas Unchained. It references many of the events and characters from the prior two books -and I do not know how this new series would read without the fore knowledge from the others. I have just started reading The Dreaming Void so I cannot comment much on this series. So far it seems to follow the pattern of the earlier series- and is very entertaining.
Unfortunately, I did not know that Misspent Youth was Hamilton’s initial foray into this universe- I will need to go back and read that one as well. My understanding is that this book lays groundwork with the development of the rejuvenation process and he discovery of memory crystals that can store phenomenal amounts of data- which are both widely used in the later books.