This is Hamilton's first collection of short stories (including one novella), set in the same universe as the bestselling Night's Dawn trilogy. Actually, as Hamilton himself admits, the original versions of these stories had nothing to do with Night's Dawn, but he has used the opportunity of this collection to tweak (or almost completely rewrite) all his earlier works and bring them in line. This process seems to affect most sci-fi novelists at some point in their careers and is probably a cathartic milestone in the transition from new SF author to bestselling author.
The collection is chronological in sequence, starting with the early days when affinity is a cutting edge technology and taking the reader through it's rapid development as it forms a fundamental part of civilisation. For die-hard enthusiasts of Night's Dawn, "Escape Route" tells the intriguing story of the last flight of Joshua Calvert's father and his spacecraft, Lady Macbeth. And the novella "A Second Chance at Eden" is Hamilton's attempt at revenge; apparently when he wrote his second novel A Quantum Murder, too many of his friends solved the mystery and identified the murderer--this time he throws down the gauntlet to stunning effect. For fans or novices, this collection offers a diverse selection, all under-pinned by Hamilton's attention to detail and skill in storytelling. --Dave Mutton
SONNIE’S EDGE. The popular sport of ‘beastie-baiting’ involves contests to the death between artificial monsters controlled via human affinity bonds. Sonnie’s team is particularly successful... but then her monster, ‘Khanivore’, has one special advantage. A SECOND CHANCE AT EDEN. A bitek habitat which orbits Jupiter, mining the fusion fuel on which Earth is dependent, Eden is a mini-nation of radical politics -- and even more radical technology. Then its creator is murdered in full view of the whole population, but nobody can identify the perpetrator -- or the motive. NEW DAYS OLD TIMES. Settlers came to the planet Nyvan hoping for a lifestyle free of Earthbound hatreds. Alas, though environments may change, human nature does not. CANDY BUDS. The crime-lord Laurus rules Kariwak with an iron fist, jealously guarding control of the bitek trade. But when an astonishing new substance appears on the streets, virtual reality takes on an entirely new dimension. DEATHDAY. On a desolate planet, a man wages an obsessive campaign of retribution against the last survivor of an alien race. But vengeance can cut both ways. THE LIVES AND LOVES OF TIARELLA ROSA. A passion that spans two generations of women... and endures beyond. ESCAPE ROUTE. The starship LADY MACBETH encounters a long-abandoned alien spacecraft, with its escape route still intact -- but leading where? And is the craft as empty as it seems?