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JUDAS UNCHAINED by Peter F. Hamilton

JUDAS UNCHAINED

By Peter F. Hamilton

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2006
ISBN: 0-345-46166-5
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Continuation of Hamilton's behemoth of a space opera, the 900-plus page Pandora's Star (2004, not reviewed).

In the 24th century, the creation and control of stable wormholes and wormhole-driven starships make space travel simple. Humanity, colonizing the galaxy like ripples in a pond, has founded the Commonwealth and its ruling Senate; the richest, most powerful families have become Dynasties; rejuvenation and memory preservation allow for immortality; physical enhancements, implanted body shields and weapons and sensory boosters are readily available. The SI, “sentient intelligence,” or self-aware computers, have formed an understanding with humans and now occupy a planet from which humanity is barred. Bradley Johansson founded the Guardians, a propaganda/terrorist group with the purpose of warning the Commonwealth about the Starflyer, an enigmatic, hostile alien who secretly controls key people in the Senate, space navy and the Dynasties. Astronomer Dudley Bose discovered and later investigated the Dyson Pair, stars somehow hidden by force fields. Suddenly, the shields vanished, releasing the Primes, implacable, insensate aliens who immediately mounted a devastating invasion of the Commonwealth. Having captured and killed Bose, the Primes read his memories and downloaded them into a mindless individual, or “motile,” but even in this strange body, a revivified Bose finds it easy to escape and eventually makes his way back to the Commonwealth, where he reveals that the aliens are actually a single consciousness called MorningLightMountain, distributed through billions of bodies. What with dozens of other plot threads, all this barely hints at the vast scope and complexity of Hamilton's construct.

Overstuffed yet often compelling, with dazzling action sequences, equally often merely ponderous, Hamilton’s huge saga adheres to space-opera tropes with trancelike devotion: worth a try, but too long by half.