Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mindstar rising

Peter F. Hamilton
Pan Books, 1993 (my copy is from Pan Books, 1993)
Size: Average (my copy has 438 pages)
Theme: Futuristic mystery
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Greg Mandel
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

This novel follows the adventures of Greg Mandel, an ex-mindstar operative, who now works as a private detective. Hired by the company Event Horizon, Greg is tasked with finding out who was responsible for tampering with a manufacturing operation, causing a huge loss for the company. As with all mindstar operatives, Greg has a gland implant, which in his case, enhances his psychological abilities, allowing him to sense people's feelings. Obviously, this makes him the perfect person to interview potential moles or saboteurs. However, the case will reveal itself to be much more complicated than suspected, and a plot of worldwide consequence will be unraveled.

The story takes places in a reasonably near future, after some quasi-apocalyptic societal revolution, due to major events such as global warming. The most obvious technological innovations are in biotechnology, military gear, and space exploration. Greg's military background provides fuel for his current activities and, simultaneously, seamlessly brings in other ex-military as well as rebels whenever required by the plot.

This is a great sci-fi detective thriller, with plenty of action and romance, and with a complex enough plot to keep it interesting throughout. Although only a few characters exhibit some depth, and a few others could have been better explored, the cast is varied enough to allow multiple stories to develop simultaneously (although not even close to space operas such as his Night's Dawn trilogy). As you would expect, Greg is a really likeable character, with few flaws and an impeccable character; and, as you would also expect, adequate villains are provided in the mix. Like other Peter Hamilton's books, I enjoyed the level of technical detail provided, and the rich plot, even though his later works are - in my opinion - superior. Particularly, since this book follows a very traditional honorable detective storyline. Nevertheless, it is well written and the approach taken is novel enough to make it worth your time.

Related work:
This is book 1 of 3 in the Greg Mandel series and is followed by "A quantum murder" and "The nano flower". However, it can be read as a single novel, providing a conclusive end. It was Hamilton's first major story, and one of his best known works.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):
The mastermind behind the event horizon attacks is revealed to be Leopold Armstrong, former dictator and leader of the PSP, for whom Giancomo was working. As Greg and Gabriel are kidnapped and interrogated, Teddy and Eleanor are forced to break into Julia’s mansion to incite a rescue operation. Greg and Gabriel escape their captivity just as the tower where they were held is blown apart with a Merlin missile.

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