Relative to Hamilton's more recent work (the Commonwealth Saga), Mindstar Rising is clearly not in the same league. That said, this 1st book of the Gr..Show More »eg Mandel trilogy demonstrates the talent that has emerged as one of preeminent contemporary scifi authors. Mindstar is simply not as ambitious, nor as sweeping in scope as his later work, but the story is masterfully done and a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
We are presented with the limits of a near future tale (still near future due to the identifiability with the characters' daily routines), set late in the 21st century. Both environmental (in the form of global warming) and political (in the form of economic upheaval leading to vicious UK socialism) changes have occurred. Greg Mandel is a former UK soldier, discharged by the new, anti-military government. The Mindstar unit was a special ops group that received early experimental bioimplants. Mandel has an "esp" sense to detect mental states in others close by. He does not "read" minds, but can sense emotional reactions.
Greg is hired by a wealthy, elderly businessman and his granddaughter to track down what is thought to be sabotage within their manufacturing facilities (some of which are space based). What appears as straightforward corporate espionage and hardball takeover tactics gradually evolves into a life or death struggle with national political ramifications. For the major scifi elements, biology and cyber dominate along the lines of a William Gibson / Richard K Morgan love child.
The characters are wonderfully developed with vile villains and endearing supporting characters. The narrator performs an admirable rendition for the range of characters.
A Quantum Murder is the 2nd book in Greg Mandel trilogy. Although, this is a standalone story, all the relevant characters from Book 1, Mindstar Risin..Show More »g, are back, so the background is useful. The story occurs about 2 years after the 1st with the same general conditions in place. This time around, Greg is dragged into a murder investigation of a prominent physicist who was doing work for Event Horizon. In spite of appearing to crack the case, his intuition suggests something is amiss and he pursues justice with a Mandel doggedness.
Hamilton introduces some bizarre physics dealing with apparent time travel without the typical causality paradox. In addition, he explores the world of designer synthetic chemistry (probably around the time that ecstasy was becoming popular in England) and the biology of memory. Surprisingly (for Peter Hamilton). the sci-fi components are not only underwhelming, but nearly fade into the background as the mystery deepens. At its heart though, this is an engaging and erudite who-dun-it. The only slight detriment is the "Night of the Living Dead" scene close to the end which was just a bit over the top..
Nanoflower completes the Greg Mandel trilogy. Compared to the first two installments, Greg is now comfortably middle aged, a father with 4 kids (and o..Show More »ne on the way), and a respected and successful fruit grower. Over the intervening 15 years since Quantum Murder, Julia Evans has healed Royan, they've become lovers, and have their own children all while continuing to run Event Horizon.
The story unfolds with Julie receiving a "flower" that appears to be of alien origin and points to Royan who has been missing. Julie engages Greg to track him down. At the time, rumors of a next generation technology begin surfacing resulting in a second made scramble. Greg goes up against a psychopathic techmerc following the same leads for the flower and the technology. The action is fast and furious, and nearly nonstop. While the eventual resolution is not unexpected, the denouement is still surprising.
Hamilton really begins to flex his muscles as a sci-fi grandmaster with this tale. The resulting alien biology (and microbiology) is refreshingly original and well detailed. Computer personalities are extended and space mining and colony settlements are ongoing. At its heart, this is a love story with multiple couples, each re-enforcing the theme. Perhaps the only legitimate criticism is the introduction of some new psy powers for Greg that while critical to the plot could have nevertheless been at least alluded to earlier. The narrator also deserves kudos for a fantastic range of voices.