Great North Road, Peter F. Hamilton, Del Rey, Isbn 978-0-3345-52666-3, $30.00., 976 pages

filedesc Peter F. Hamilton signing his Night's...

filedesc Peter F. Hamilton signing his Night’s Dawn Trilogy Books in London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure Peter Hamilton knows how to write small books.  Small both in scope and in pages.  The Great North Road tells the story, essentially, of the North family.  The Norths, at this point, are clones.  There are first generation clones, second generation clones, third generation clones and a few forth generation ones.  Each generation degrades from the original and, like in breeding of animals, produces offspring that are often not viable.  The Norths are also industrialists and scientists and billionaires and developers of the tans-spatial connection, and generally a pretty horny bunch.  At the same time, political systems on Earth are taking advantage of these trans-spatial connections to solve any number of social problems on the planet.  Criminals are sent through the gate to a planet where they are given a homestead and left to their best devices.  The poor are also given transport to a planet where they can get a second change. The politically diverse–essentially anyone who does not agree with the present government–are given transport to a planet where each group had developed a geographically segregated haven.  Everything seems to be going great, until a body is found floating in the river.  And it’s not just any body but the body of a North.  Because of the money, the cloning, and the control they have of business, finding a murdered North is more than a big deal.  Unfortunately for everyone the murder creates a second problem.  Angela Tramelo, convicted of killing a North twenty years previously, has to be set free because the current murder replicates the methods of the first murder and this time, Angela was in prison, serving her life sentence.  Angela’s story, that the household of Bartram North was murdered by an alien seems to be true.  And Detective Third Grade, Sidney Hurst, recently back on the force after having his own professional problems, is going to be tasked with figuring out just what is going on.

So, this is a complex book, full of characters moving through multiple plot lines but all with a single threaded theme running throughout.  Certainly part of the fascination is wanting to know how Hamilton is going to bring everything together in some satisfactory way by the ending.  Of course he gives himself plenty of room to maneuver–almost a thousand pages.  The danger with giving an author that many pages is that they might fill it with minutia–detail that they find interesting but which does not serve the plot of story.  I’m glad to say that this does not happen here.  Incredibly, considering the page numbers, Hamilton creates quite a page turner–not that you are going to actually try to do this beast in a single sitting or anything.

This is space opera as I remember it.  But it’s also a thriller, and a mystery.  In some ways it is pure SF, paying homage to the imagination of Bradbury and the complexity of Asimov at the same time.  I really enjoyed the book and, as with most great books, I was left wanting more.  Whether or not I get it is irrelevant, the important thing is that the writing was good enough to create that want.

I would recommend this book highly.  Frankly they don’t get much better.

To get your own copy, click here: Great North Road

English: This image is a reproduction of an or...

English: This image is a reproduction of an original painting by renowned science-fiction and fantasy illustrator Rowena http://www.rowenaart.com/. It depicts Dr. Isaac Asimov enthroned with symbols of his life’s work. Français : Peinture de Rowena Morill réprésentant Isaac Asimov sur un trône décoré des symboles de son œuvre littéraire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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About damnaliens
Writer, reviewer, home provider to the Damnaliens

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