Humanity won't change in the future.
“Peter F. Hamilton was born in Rutland in 1960 and still lives nearby. He began writing in 1987, and sold his first short story to Fear magazine in 1988. He has written many bestselling novels, including the Greg Mandel series, the Night's Dawn trilogy, the Commonwealth Saga, the Void trilogy, short-story collections and several standalone novels including Fallen Dragon and Great North Road.“ Pan Macmillan / Authors / Peter F. Hamilton.
The Commonwealth Saga was my first Science Fiction series. It introduced John Lee to me. It introduced a more realistic future for humanity to me. If you give Hamilton a go, please start with the Commonwealth Saga.
Along with Iain M. Banks, Hamilton is an obsession of my husband. He has spent most of our relationship bugging me to start reading them. Why wouldn't I? I regularly read long high-fantasy series or fantasy books the size of a concrete block. Much like Banks', a book by Hamilton can be used to chock the wheels of a Cessna.
I am glad I started with the Commonwealth Saga. It was a colourful introduction to his work and how he writes characters. My opinion of it may be skewed towards the positive because I read it as an audiobook. John Lee adds such depth to change the view of characterisation.
There is some discussion about how the women are portrayed in this series, how they are described, and how they narrate themselves. And now I am doing a third (or fourth) reread. I've started to understand why they are written like this.
It's a tool to help the reader understand what humanity is like in this far future. It shows that we are not perfect, and this is NOT a post-scarcity society. People still judge others on their looks, and being able to afford things still sets you apart from each other. The over-the-top description of people is par for the course in this society. It is how they see each other; first by looks, then by clothes, then by their standing on the Unisfere. And how much your surname measures up—nepotism for the win.
When I thought it was male-gazy and assumed it was just “another male author in sci-fi,” it made the story jarring and cringy. But now I cringe as I recognise a lot of this inner dialogue in myself. It also makes characters who don't care about these things seem odd. You take note of someone who only takes a few paragraphs to explain the finer points of a fashion choice.
A strong example is a scene where one character immediately sees another's weight gain and heart issues as something that needs to be fixed. The character then struggles to understand why this person doesn't want to fix it. The person under judgement admits to the weight being an issue. But he talks about his heart being a genetic issue and how the fix is editing his genes. He doesn't like the idea that his genes are wrong and that society has decided that his genes are bad.
It's pop-sci-fi in hardback. It's an airport read which will take you over the baggage weight limit. But the Commonwealth Saga is good. It reads like a TV series. It has characters I look forward to taking over the narration. And characters I truly hate without having to put the book down.
Beir bua agus beannacht.