I’m a fan of huge novels. Giant tomes of Science Fiction filled with equally massive concepts and ideas. Currently my favorite writer in the Epic Space Opera department is the British Peter F. Hamilton. Best known for his Commonwealth Novels Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained; some of the best post Hyperion scifi.
Hamilton writes big. Civilizations that span multiple worlds, hyper-intelligent AI, characters whose existence spans multiple lifetimes due to biotechnology, and hands down the most interesting alien life-form in scifi(Morning Light Mountain.) Best of all, unlike the bullshit trend perpetrated by fantasy authors, Hamilton actually finishes his series. He also writes fantastic stand alone novels.
Great North Road is one of Hamilton’s stand alones. A complex planet spanning mystery, mixed with a military thriller, and just the right amount of gritty cyberpunk.
The novel takes place in the early 22nd century. Earth is connected to dozens of new inhabited planets by portal technology. Portal technology owned and controlled by multi-world corporations ran by identical clone families.
The action starts with Newcastle Police Detective Sidney Hurst investigating a gruesome murder. The victim, a clone member of the worlds wealthiest family the Norths, creators of the portal technology, and providers of most of the worlds bio-fuel.
The high profile case is furthermore complicated by the fact that twenty years prior, several other members of the North family were murdered in a nearly identical fashion. The supposed murderer, Angela Tramelo has spent the last twenty years in a maximum security prison, the entire time proclaiming her innocence and blaming the murders on a monster.
The central mystery spans several planets, eventually leading to a mysterious idyllic world. St. Libra, a frontier planet controlled by the North family and home of the known worlds bio-oil production. Hamilton ties numerous characters through multiple complex plots all leading to a satisfying world changing conclusion.
After reading Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga and being blown away by it’s scope; I was a bit afraid of being underwhelmed by this one. Fortunately Great North Road was fantastic. A 800 plus novel that I could not put down. A must read near future space opera for fans of large, complex, intelligent science fiction who enjoy an interesting mystery.