In AD 2329, humanity has colonised over four hundred planets, all of them interlinked by wormholes. With Earth at its centre, the Intersolar Commonwealth now occupies a sphere of space approximately four hundred light years across.
When an astronomer on the outermost world of Gralmond, observes a star 2000 light years distant – and then a neighbouring one – vanish, it is time for the Commonwealth to discover what happened to them. For what if their disappearance indicates some kind of galactic conflict? Since a conventional wormhole cannot be used to reach these vanished stars, for the first time humans need to build a faster-than-light star ship, the Second Chance. But it arrives to find each ‘vanished’ star encased in a giant force field — and within one of them resides a massive alien civilisation.
Author: Peter F. Hamilton
Narrator: John Lee
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd
Release Date: 03/09/2010
Series: The Commonwealth Saga
Running Time: 37 hrs 30 mins
My Rating of ‘Pandora’s Star’: 3 out of 5
Before picking up Pandora’s Star, I hadn’t really experienced an epic-length book in quite some time. I also hadn’t really delved too much into Sci-fi as far as audio books go for a good long while. So I thought it’d be a damn good thing to kill two birds with one stone. Even though this was an audio book, I still feel pretty much everything I say in this can be directly applied to the written version.
It isn’t the length of Pandora’s Star that makes it feel like it takes a while to get through; it’s the slow-paced writing. Not a lot happens. At all. Which is impressive for a near 40 hour audio book. I mean, stuff happens. It would be a lie to say nothing did. The author just slams the breaks on so fast afterwards that it feels like whatever happened, happened in a different book that someone else was reading/listening to.
I thought the premise was pretty good at the start and had high hopes for the novel as a whole. I wasn’t entirely let down, but I wasn’t sufficiently hooked that I feel like I need to bother with the sequel. I’d like to know how it finishes, but I just can’t justify another 40 hours of my listening time to be devoted to something that just may never really progress past a trot as far as pace goes.
When the aliens were introduced (which was so far into the book that I genuinely forgot the main plot was always gearing towards a confrontation with them) it just fell kind of flat. I lost interest pretty quick when he went into the details regarding their history and culture. Yet I still ploughed on as, on some level, I was enjoying it. I just wasn’t thrilled. I also have a resolution that I will not DNF any more books. Ever. A lofty goal, but so far I’m smashing it.
The majority of the novel reads like a sci-fi detective novel in which aliens just happen to be lurking in some far off solar-system. If anyone who reads/listens to Pandora’s Star says they did not, at any time, forget the aliens were even a thing, I’d go out on a limb and say they are lying. If anyone describes it as full of action, they are also pulling your leg. It has bits of action dotted throughout to keep the appetite whetted, but not enough to make me get all excited at the idea of hitting that play button whenever I had some time spare.
I remember thinking ‘I’m eight hours in and not a whole lot has happened’ followed by ‘I’m 34 hours in and it’s only just getting exciting now … seriously?”
There are many positives about Pandora’s Star, even if I make it sound like there aren’t. The overall concept for the Commonwealth is pretty neat. I love how death has, essentially been cured for the most part so people can, with the aid of ‘re-life’ procedures, live for many, many centuries.
But, on a whole, it just felt distinctly average. Nothing cements that in my head more than the characters. None really stood out for me. They all seemed to blend together in one great artwork of blandness. Some had character, but not enough to make me care about any of them whatsoever.
I do get the feeling that, if I were to listen a second time, I would get a lot more from it. I feel as though the reader/listener is prone to miss out on a fair bit on the first go through. Sadly, it has little appeal to warrant a re-listen.