Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book Review - Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

Great North Road
Peter F. Hamilton
Trade Paperback
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0345526663
951 pages
Advance Reader’s Copy


     In Great North Road, Peter F. Hamilton’s epic space opera, clones are featured not as slaves or second class citizens, like in Blade-Runner, Gattaca, or The Island, but as the ruling class. The North family is a large corporation of elite and wealthy clones who have built the most powerful interstellar empire ever conceived. When Sid Hurst, a frazzled but competent homicide detective, is called to investigate the brutal murder of an unidentified North he knows he’s in for a sobering ride. Worse yet, two decades ago another North was slain in the exact same manner but the woman convicted and imprisoned for that murder, Angela Tramelo, has spent the past twenty years proclaiming her innocence and could not have committed the most recent crime.

     The murder investigation moves from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to an expedition into the wilderness of the planet St. Libra, light years away. But St. Libra, a sanctuary for one North clan, has never been fully surveyed and the flora and fauna are not only unusual but dangerous. Could an alien killer be hiding on St. Libra? Why would it kill one of the most powerful family members in the known universe? And just what did Angela Tramelo see on the night of the first North murder?

     Obvious successor to Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick, Peter F. Hamilton is hands down the absolute best world-builder and space-opera writer in the business. And, as in most of his other works, the cast of characters and storylines are legion. However, that is not a criticism. On the contrary, Hamilton integrates storylines and subplots with his characters as skillfully as any writer working today and there is little chance of the reader getting lost or losing the flow of the story. As always, Hamilton presents solid science and great speculative technology into this story. Interstellar space travel, a city covered with a virtual computer mesh that can be re-wound and reviewed for criminal activity, and a complex system of habitable planets are just a few of the Science Fiction themes Hamilton employs in this story.

     Great North Road weighs in at an impressive 951 pages so this is not for the quick read or instant gratification Science Fiction crowd. It is a stand alone novel (for the moment) and finishes without that cliff-hanging, sequel-in-the-wings ending that’s so common in today’s serial-minded world. It is typical well-crafted Peter F. Hamilton so if you are already a fan you’ll enjoy this. If you’re not then I suggest you read Great North Road anyway. When you’re done you will be a fan…

     File with: Space Opera, Arthur C. Clarke, epic Science Fiction, Robert A. Heinlein, speculative fiction, Jack Chalker, murder mystery, interstellar space travel, Jack McDevitt, speculative technology, planetary expeditions, and clones.

4 ½ out of 5 Stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

Great North Road Amazon Page

Great North Road Wiki Page

Peter F. Hamilton Official Website

Peter F. Hamilton Wiki Page

Peter F. Hamilton Fan Site

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