Not sure where to start with Peter F. Hamilton? Check out our beginner's guide and choose a series to get stuck into.
Peter F. Hamilton creates epic, thoughtful and frequently optimistic science fiction. The British author has just finished his 19th novel, to say nothing of his children’s books, novellas, short stories and lore companions. He’s a titan of modern science fiction and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The only question is – where do you start?
Hamilton himself started with the Greg Mandel trilogy, a more private-eye tinged and less planet-hopping series than he would come to be known for. Tackling such themes as post-cataclysmic Britain, psychic warfare, communist dictatorship and personality cloning, it was hardly an unambitious debut.
His newest title, Salvation, is the gripping start to a new series, The Salvation Sequence. It’s a perfect jumping-in point for anyone new to Hamilton – full of his customary diverse cast, high intrigue and a utopian society under threat from within and without. It also plays with what is now fair to call a Hamilton staple: portals.
These handy devices are also explored and used to great narrative effect in the Commonwealth Saga – Hamilton’s most ambitious and numerous series, running to a trilogy and five other books. Indeed, wormholes seem key to Hamilton’s style; they allow for galaxy-spanning narratives and huge supporting casts while still feeling immediate and intimate.
Make no mistake – while avoiding the traditional hard science fiction staple of lengthy scientific exposition, Hamilton is still concerned with big ideas. The Commonwealth Saga’s opening novel, Pandora’s Star, alone takes in Dyson Spheres, alien entities with networked consciousnesses and of course, the ramifications of intergalactic war.
Two more things that set Hamilton apart is his willingness to play with genre conventions, and to construct imaginative and sprawling future societies – both of which exemplify his Night’s Dawn trilogy. The lethal rivalries between factions and giant sentient space habitats are one thing, but the real twist to this series is that of possession. An ancient menace, thought to be superstition, is revived thanks to alien intervention and proceeds to wreak havoc across the galaxy, providing fertile ground for some mind-bending future-physics and realpolitik.
So, start at the one of the beginnings. It won’t take long for you to become lost in one of his universes, and don’t worry – you won’t be running out of them very quickly either.
For a full list of Peter's series and standalone books, click here.