Top critical review
Desperately Seeking an Editor
Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2018
This book is huge investment of your time, especially considering that it doesn't end. It simply pauses so you can purchase the second half of your 2,000 page commitment. These are the reasons I wish invested my time elsewhere.
1) Editing. WTF.
Reader, take heed of how many reviews, even positive ones, mention this flaw. To me its unforgiveable. Every passage in a well written book must exist for one or more of these reasons: move the plot forward; offer vital background; give character depth; or say something profound about the human condition. Hamilton writes like he’s being paid by the word. Lengthy, excruciating details of places never to be revisited, incidents and characters barely relevant to the plot line, and technical descriptions of machinery - it just goes on and on. Remember this review when you get to the hang gliding scene!
2) Poorly written women.
Hamilton writes like a man in midlife experiencing his second adolescence. All the women are sexually voracious tropes, except for the one asexual professional woman, Paula Mayo. Apparently the only reason sexual harassment is no longer an issue in the far future of humanity is that women are so very horny that sleeping with their workplace superior is simply a given. Hot sexy teenagers! Hot sexy older cougars who may or may not be lesbians lusting after the hot sexy teenagers! Hot sexy ship crew member with a heart of gold! Did I mention the women are hot and sexy?
3) Character development.
Just because it’s “hard” science fiction doesn’t mean you get pass on character development. Hamilton introduces character after character with no indication of their true importance. Some reappear, some don’t. Many of his sadly two dimensional characters blur together, creating confusion. Have I met this guy before? I think so, but I can’t remember. Hamilton even gives an early throw away character the SAME first name, Nigel, as the main character. Why? I think his characters are so forgettable the author himself doesn’t remember their names.
And I have to mention the ridiculousness of Ozzie. You know he’s a bohemian because he has a big afro and likes to say “Hey, man” “dude” and “groovy!” He walks the paths of the elves. Cool! He’s not wise or thoughtful or deep. But he’s cool. Groovy even!
4) A future filled with 300 year old adolescents.
Hamilton postulates a world where humans can “regenerate,” so people can live 300 or 400 years with the physical and cognitive vigor of a 30 year old. Yet somehow, not a single character develops the tiniest degree of wisdom, compassion or emotional evolution. Hamilton’s future is filled with ancient adolescents interested in nothing more than wealth and power and sex. And more sex! With hot sexy teenagers! Did I mention the hot sex?
5) Absolutely awful audible narration by John Lee.
Just torture. Fortunately I also had the kindle whisper sync, so I could skim endless passages and take a break from Lee. He swallows words at the ends of sentences so they can barely be heard. He drones on without variation. All the characters sound the same. He takes the worst of Hamilton’s flaws and makes them even worse, which hardly seems possible.
6) The worst sin of all for me is that Hamilton took 37 hours of my life, and had nothing go “say.” Ok, you want to write a book where humans live to be almost a half a century old without ever actually growing up into wise and thoughtful people, so the society is also wholly lacking in wisdom and compassion. The rich and powerful get increasingly rich and powerful. Humans still use internal combustion engines and desecrate the environment in extractive rather than sustainable economics which extends out into the galaxy. Rich and powerful men actually have harems. Harems! That’s an appalling and disgusting concept in a world where women supposedly have significant political power. Hamilton offers this up as our future, not as a cautionary tale, not as a dystopian future. This is the world of Hamilton’s mind. I'm not suggesting a book should have a "this is the moral of the story" moment. But shouldn't there be some kind of take away? Some sense of what the author thinks about life, society or the human condition?
There is some creativity here, there are some good points to the book, and I did finish it. I could have given it two stars because there are probably worse books out there. But I want to draw attention to the significant flaws which you can choose to consider before making the hefty commitment of time this book demands. Believe me, this is no Dune!