Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The nano flower

Peter F. Hamilton
Pan Books, 1995 (my copy is from Pan Books, 1995)
Size: Average (my copy has 566 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

In this final of three books in the Greg Mandel series, several years have passed, and the retired psychic operative is again brought back to active duty as a favor to Julia Evans, since her husband Royan (an old friend and comrade of Greg) has been missing for several months. With his empathy and - particularly - his intuition, Greg is the perfect detective to follow the small clues that Royan has been leaving in an apparent attempt to lead Julia to his current location. Everything is triggered by a particular and very special flower secretly sent by Royan to Julia. This time, the story revolves around more personal issues than the previous essentially corporative-driven problems.

Unlike the two previous books, set exclusively on Earth (with very minor descriptions of space activities involving satellites), this time a significant part of the plot takes place in the New London asteroid, brought to Earth orbit by Event Horizon. Also, there is plenty more combat and destruction by hardliners and tekmercs, including by Event Horizon’s crash team, compared to the preceding two books.

The novel follows the pace, style, depth and narration of previous books. The cast is not too extensive, which allows characters to be adequately explored; furthermore, many readers will already be familiar with most of them. The plot works fairly well as a detective story, despite the fact that it is predictable and almost everything is given away in advance. While on the upside I enjoyed revisiting the characters in the Greg Mandel universe, this third book failed to fully meet my expectations. I was not particularly impressed with the part of the novel concerning the origin of the new technology, and until very late in the book I hoped there would be a twist and that there was a different explanation for the nano flower and for the new technology that Royan kept hinting at. Unfortunately, the explanation was the expected one that Hamilton had been laying out through the entire book. The ending also seemed too commonplace. Still, I continue a great fan of Hamilton’s work, and although I did not find this story to be up to par to his other books, I highly recommend this entire series.

Related work:

This is the final of 3 books in the Greg Mandel series (Hamilton’s first); it was preceded by “Mindstar rising” and "A quantum murder". As the previous books, it can be read as a single novel, although you will greatly benefit from having read the previous books first.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

In the end of the book, the alien entity is revealed as having emerged from the large-scale laboratory replication of the alien microbes by Royan, between whom a stand-off had been established since the alien life form first attempted to assimilate him. As Julia and Greg come to his rescue, they offer the alien a solution to leave our galaxy and re-establish its original ecosystem in a distant location.

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