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Publisher's Summary

Critics have compared the engrossing space operas of Peter F. Hamilton to the classic sagas of such SF giants as Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert. But Hamilton's best-selling fiction - powered by a fearless imagination and world-class storytelling skills - has also earned him comparison to Tolstoy and Dickens. Hugely ambitious, wildly entertaining, philosophically stimulating: the novels of Peter F. Hamilton will change the way you think about science fiction.

Now, with Pandora's Star, he begins a new multi-volume adventure, one that promises to be his most mind-blowing yet. The year is 2380. The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars some 400 light-years in diameter, contains more than 600 worlds, interconnected by a web of transport "tunnels" known as wormholes. At the farthest edge of the Commonwealth, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the impossible: Over 1,000 light-years away, a star...vanishes. It does not go supernova. It does not collapse into a black hole. It simply disappears.

Since the location is too distant to reach by wormhole, a faster-than-light starship, the Second Chance, is dispatched to learn what has occurred and whether it represents a threat. In command is Wilson Kime, a five-time rejuvenated ex-NASA pilot whose glory days are centuries behind him. Opposed to the mission are the Guardians of Selfhood, a cult that believes the human race is being manipulated by an alien entity they call the Starflyer.

Bradley Johansson, leader of the Guardians, warns of sabotage, fearing the Starflyer means to use the starship's mission for its own ends. Pursued by a Commonwealth special agent convinced the Guardians are crazy but dangerous, Johansson flees. But the danger is not averted. Aboard the Second Chance, Kime wonders if his crew has been infiltrated.

Soon enough, he will have other worries. A thousand light-years away, something truly incredible is waiting: a deadly discovery, the unleashing of which will threaten to destroy t...

©2004 Peter F. Hamilton; (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The depth and clarity of the future Hamilton envisions is as complex and involving as they come." (Publishers Weekly Starred Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

One of the best

It took me a couple of chapters to get into this story but I soon realized that this is among the best epic sci-fi books that I have read. Each chapter is almost a short story in itself with its own cast of characters and locations, very similar to George R Martin's Song of Fire and Ice. The universe is vast and complete with its own technology and alien races. The Aliens are particulary well written, there are no throw-away generic aliens like in many books but instead a hand full of fully detailed non humanoids that feel very alien. I havn't enjoyed scifi this much since the Hyperion.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Thomas
  • Houston, TX, USA
  • 12-27-08


This has been one of the richest, greatest epics of sci fi I have ever read. I WANT MORE OF THIS AUTHOR, UNABRIDGED! This author thinks believably out of the box, creating surprising but plausible aliens, characters, scenarios. This is rich stuff, unequaled anywhere else. GIVE US MORE!

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Pandora & Judas-now that's a scary couple!

I listened to Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained back to back and the Commonwealth Saga is not complete without both books. Now I find I can't write a review of them separately so this is a combined review of the duo. Overall, I was very entertained by these two massive books and recommend them to anyone who loves space opera, but this is a qualified recommendation.

THE GOOD (~70%)
* Fascinating Vision of the future and the universe on a grand scale - entertaining and thought-provoking concepts.
* Terrific use of multiple POV's and subplots woven together to create a much bigger picture.
* Twisty plot lines, evocative settings, and wonderful mysteries that totally engage the listener.
* Some of the characters, especially MorningLightMountain (a terrifying sentient enemy alien who thinks NOTHING like a human) and Paula Mayo (genetically engineered human programmed by OCD-type genetics to be the ultimate detective).
* Narration - not John Lee's best performance, but not bad. Lee is particularly good with the 50's American slang sound he uses for Ozzie's voice.

THE BAD (~25%)
* Too much of a good thing - the future of biology, chemistry, physiology, IT, politics, government, astronomy, the kitchen sink, and pretty much everything else. Hamilton's reach to incorporate all the ramifications of future science and technology is bigger than his story and my patience could handle at times.
* Ozzie's Wilderness Survival Subplot - most of the subplots were engaging, but the story of Ozzie Isaacs trying to find the adult Silfen to get answers reads more like Kerouac's "On The Road" (probably intentionally) than like a sci-fi adventure and I found that it dragged down the story each time Hamilton cut to an Ozzie update. This was maybe 20% of the narrative in Pandora's Star, but less of a factor in Judas Unchained.
* Some of the characters, especially Ozzie (a Beatnik born 100 years too late who totally, like, overuses the word man, maaaan, you dig?) and Melanie, who is a dirty old man's fantasy of a very young, very slutty woman. I hated her, but even people who like the character aren't going to identify with her because she is not like anyone you know. A character based on a sexual fantasy never seems like a real person so it's hard to care about what they do or what happens to them.
* The Science might work, but it hurts the fiction - in the Commonwealth Universe, rejuvenation is routine so people have an indefinite lifetime potential. In addition, if your body or brain are injured beyond the ability of medical science to heal, you can have your memory dumped to a clone and start over. Hamilton does not go into all the science of how this would work, but I didn't have trouble buying into his concepts as presented. What did cause a problem for me was how do you get invested in people who really can't die? No matter how intense and suspenseful the plot becomes, it is just hard to stack the emotional stakes high when most folks aren't going to stay dead!

THE UGLY (fortunately only ~ 5%)
* Many semi-graphic sex scenes - I am fine with sex scenes in my fiction when the plot requires it or even gratuitous sex scenes when they are well-written. However, I think very few authors can write sex scenes that are erotic, passionate, or romantic and more often (as is the case with Pandora and Judas) these scenes come across as self conscious or skeevy. And worse, these stumbles in the bedroom (or wherever) often slow the narrative and break the plot progression. Pandora/Judas would read better without the corny and sleazy sex scenes.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Try to make it past the first couple hours

Hamilton is very long winded. This is probably my only complaint about this book. It is way too long. Not too long in that the story got bogged down, but too long in that I wanted to get through it faster.

I want to know what the Dyson Sphere "bubble" was, who the Prime is, what Humankind is going to do about it... who is the Starflyer, what are the elves? What does Ozzy have to do with the story? And, ultimately, will we win?

So, the answers to my questions were fed to me like an IV - drip drip drip - with an interfering nurse at hand who occasionally turned off the drip, or switched the bag for a completely different product.

The story takes too long to get started (you really have to trust that it does pick up after the first couple hours). And it's continually interrupted with 'side-stories' which, eventually, turn out to not really be 'side-stories' at all, but part of the main plot. (Of course, you don't know this as you're reading about a space-battle with interesting aliens that suddenly switches to another character who's traipsing through the forest with some elves.)

It's very well woven together, and I assume with book 2 the left-over threads will be pulled tight (and I suspect a whole new weave will be intertwined). And I'm still quite engaged with the whole story because I still want to know "will we win"?

The narrator isn't bad. He's not fantastic by any means, but he does a decent enough job - you probably won't have to rewind to figure out who was talking, but you might have to turn your volume up a bit to catch it all.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • JCL
  • Coarsegold, CA USA
  • 03-24-09

First Rate Story - First Rate SciFi

Destined to be a classic! In the same vein as "Dune" or "The Brothers Karamazov." Like a novel of novellas. Narrator should have paused a bit before going from one story arc to another, but I could still follow. If you like hard sci fi, this book should satisfy. One warning: The story will be completed in the upcoming sequel, "Judas Unleased."

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • psnorb
  • Northwest Chicago Suburb, United States
  • 03-02-09

Quality Writing in a Science Fiction Setting

I have been waiting for Audible to have something from Peter Hamilton for some time. I was completely sucked into "Reality Dysfuntion" after only eighty pages. I woke up five or six books later.

"Pandora's Star" has to be looked at as only a small portion of the whole picture. At the end of the book we still do not have a full grasp of the universe nor do we have an idea how the story will unfold. So I would not be too critical of the ending of the first book. It is difficult to end a book when the story is just beginning. I would blame the editor for the ending of this the first book because I am sure that the author just continued on with the story until the end. The editor was left with the job of determining the break points for each book in the series.

I really enjoyed the discription and evolution of the alien life form MorningLightMountain. I would agree that some of the haute couture was over the top.

Narration was good for the most part. I have 183 books in my audible library and this one definitely worth the credit. Enjoy.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Couldnt get through it

What disappointed you about Pandora's Star?

Its just went nowhere and nowhere and nowhere...I just couldn't get past the first few chapters.

What could Peter F. Hamilton have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Make SOMETHING happen other than one thing from 8 different people's perspectives.

Any additional comments?

I returned it. horrible

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • Laura
  • Dearing, GA, United States
  • 02-09-14

Just couldn't get into it

I have started this book 4 times, I just couldn't get into the story. Nothing grabbed me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jakub
  • Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
  • 12-04-13

Dragged out, faulty audio recording.

Audio & Performance - It requires effort and dedication to listen to this particular audiobook. Probably comparable to reading a book printed on grey paper where every word is a different shade of grey.
Many reviewers have said it before me - there is something wrong with the audio. This is hands down the absolute worst recording from Audible I've personally listened to. I went as far as re-downloading the lower quality version, hoping that down-sampled file would correct the volume levels but it was as bad as the high quality. I then reported this as "faulty" audio to Audible who inspected it and found nothing wrong with the file. (A little concerned there an "audio" focused company could not hear the "audio" problem.) I am sure they have not read all the complaints here. Voice volume fluctuations in this recording can give you headaches it's so bad. It sounds like the sound technicians made an error and tried to fix the recording by filtering out the noise so many times they screwed up the audio royally in the end. Many reviewers said that they had trouble following the characters and all the subplots partly due to the poor audio. I could not agree more. I believe it is even worse if English is not your native language such as myself. I was straining to hear and fiddling with the volume the entire time. As for the narrator, John Lee is usually pretty good and I have listened to at least 4 other books narrated by him but audio issues aside his performance here is less that stellar - for obvious reasons though - this book drags on and on and on and on....

This brings me to the book itself. If there was a 2.5 star option I would give it 2.5 stars. Some great ideas but poorly executed. A few good parts. Too many uninteresting characters and too much detail being introduced until almost the very end of this very long book - the whole thing reads like a 35-hour first chapter. I didn't really loose track of the subplots or the characters but every-time the story introduced a new character and a new world or a new branch in an new tree - I rolled my eyes and wished there was an abridged version. The entire book is not flowing well, it's choppy and riddled with poorly developed characters. Is this the author's debut piece? I don't know. Sure reads like one - lot's of maturing needed. HOWEVER, there are sparks of briliance; some subplots are great and some ideas thought-provoking. There is a few good sci-fi hours in of listening here.

The book ends abruptly. The author probably just split the stack of paper in half and called the first stack the Pandora's star. It does not stand-alone as a complete story nor is there a satisfying conclusion; it's like turning a page and expecting more and seeing the closing credits instead.

I finished it but I though about quitting the book many times. If there were no audio problems and if the narration was done by someone else, the overall experience would have been a lot better - probably a 3-star book. John Lee is great in the Pillars of the Earth and similar books but sci-fi might not be his strong genre.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The very best (including Judas Unchained)

I've been reading and listening to SF for over 50 years--cut my teeth on Asimov and Heinlein, and most of the best since then. This book and its sequel rank among the very best of all time. First of all, it's great classic SF: the science is credible and Hamilton's extraordinarily clever use of the science context he creates continues amazes throughout. The characters are interesting enough to make you want to follow them (with the significant exception of the ultimate villain--no spoilers here) through their very lengthy adventures. The story is a classic "great novel" in the style of Dickens, Tolstoy, or Hugo. It is complex, believable and resolves itself with no significant loose ends. And it is a fundamentally moral story. There are good guys and bad guys, and some bad guys are redeemed, and some good guys die the death of the hero. There are ethical points to be made and they are made well, without overdoing them or minimizing them. It took forever to complete, and I am quite sad that the adventure is over. Thanks Peter F. Hamilton.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful