Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Now, this is one of the best new SF books I’ve read in a while.
An interesting story of a quasi-utopian future that suddenly meets with danger out amongst the stars, the “Commonwealth” series of novels by Peter Hamilton tell of a future mankind that never really takes to the stars in a great diaspora via starships — instead, mankind stumbles across the ability to open up instantaneous wormholes relative to where they’re currently located, at least across a few light years. The ability to do this is a closely kept secret of the team that first invents it, so, while they remains quite generous with the opening of new wormholes for mankind, the progression of man amongst the stars continues in a very orderly, organized fashion for about 400 years or so, with new wormholes opening up only after many, many committee meetings and discussions.
It is only when an interesting astronomical event occurs far outside the reach of any wormhole, that starships are finally created (using a sort of “progressive” opening and reopening of the same wormhole technology) to travel the far distance necessary to observe it up close. However, what they find was probably better left alone.
One of the most interesting things about the future in this universe is just how normal everything remains compared to modern day — there’s still a stock market, there’s still large companies (only now they’re multi-system instead of just multinational) — there’s even still a middle class. People can live much longer thanks to rejuvenation and body cloning techniques (given enough money, an individual can be nearly immortal), and you can securely back up your memory to a bank in case of complete body loss.