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The Mandel Files, Volume 1: Mindstar Rising & a Quantum Murder Paperback – 23 Aug 2011
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Great fun . . . sort of a post-catastrophe techno-thriller. The San Diego Union-Tribune, on Mindstar Rising
Reads like a collaboration between William Gibson and Ian Fleming. Publishers Weekly, on Mindstar Rising
A taut, suspenseful story . . . full of surprises. Poul Anderson, on A Quantum Murder"
"Great fun . . . sort of a post-catastrophe techno-thriller."--The San Diego Union-Tribune, on Mindstar Rising
"Reads like a collaboration between William Gibson and Ian Fleming."--Publishers Weekly, on Mindstar Rising
"A taut, suspenseful story . . . full of surprises."--Poul Anderson, on A Quantum Murder
About the Author
Peter F. Hamilton is the author of numerous novels, including A Night Without Stars, The Abyss Beyond Dreams, Great North Road, The Evolutionary Void, The Temporal Void, The Dreaming Void, Judas Unchained, Pandora's Star, Misspent Youth, Fallen Dragon, and the acclaimed epic Night's Dawn trilogy (The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist, and The Naked God). He lives with his family in England.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The three books in Peter F. Hamilton's Greg Mandel series were written before his "Night's Dawn" series. I'm not certain of this, but they seem to occur in the same universe as that series, just at a MUCH earlier time. Regardless, this series is excellent. What's especially nice, is that, for the most part, each of these books stands alone. You still need to read them in order, but none of them ends in a cliff-hanger requiring your reading of the next. Unfortunately, each of these books has a few fairly explicit sexual situations described in them. The amount of sex increases as you move from book to book. If it weren't for that, I'd recommend these books for everyone.
"Mindstar Rising" is the first book in the series. It's a very good, fast-paced sci-fi action thriller. The book introduces all the important characters and the "universe" used throughout the series. For the most part, the character development is good. I have a few qualms about a character or two suddenly being more capable than they are during the majority of the book, but that's mostly inconsequential. The plot, too, is very good. However, the transition between the first, introductory, situation in the book and the primary situation could have been worked better: it seems contrived. But, I might be seeing that solely because I've read the book four times now.
"A Quantum Murder" is the second book in the series. This book takes place about three years after "Mindstar Rising." Instead of being the science-fiction action thriller that the first book is, it's more of a science fiction mystery. It's a close call, but I think this book is slightly better than "Mindstar Rising." Once again, there's good character development, but this time, the plot is somewhat more tightly put together. I've only got a couple of quibbles: first, in one scene, Mandel's psi powers inexplicably include actual telepathy instead of just the empathy described in "Mindstar Rising." And, second, after the characters find out who the murderer is, instead of sending the police out immediately, they close up shop for the night and say they'll do it in the morning. Other than that, this is an excellent book which shows the origins of a lot of the technology in the "Night's Dawn" series.
Now my updated comments: After my re-reading of these books in this compendium, I stand by most of the above. However, I think I'd now rate "A Quantum Murder" at slightly below "Mindstar Rising." The problem is that AQM includes a lot more extraneous (and somewhat juvenile) material regarding Julia's sex life and fashion issues. Still, I'm rating this compendium at a Very Good 4 stars out of 5. It's just that I'm rounding up the average of a 4 star and 3 star rating instead of taking the average of two 4 stars.
Unfortunately, eavesdropping on so many characters becomes a kaleidoscope of paranoia, plots and computer wizardry. Yep, some characters have erotic episodes, and others have their thought processes laid bare by Greg. Descriptions of clothing precede introductions such as this on p. 73:
' Sean Francis, Oscot's manager, nominally captain, was waiting at the foot of the airstairs. He was tall and lean, dressed in a khaki shirt and shorts, with canvas-top sneakers, broad sunglasses covering his eyes.
Greg dredged his name up from Morgan Walshaw's briefing file. Thirty-two years old, joined Event Horizon straight out of university, some sort of engineering administration degree, fully cleared for company confidential material up to grade eleven, risen fast, unblemished reputation for competence. ' ---Fascinating! Sean is a player in this drama, so now the reader has a mental picture to go with his actions. However, he is just one of dozens, and it becomes difficult to keep them straight. This leads me to the drawbacks:
>Obviously, Hamilton has this vast imagination for interactions between Greg and others; so let's talk about those who change during the story. First, Eleanor, the well-endowed barmaid whom Greg seduces. She moves in and becomes a valued partner without any military training or detective experience. There is Julia, a clothes horse, who assumes the mantle of corporate chieftan after attending a finishing school in Switzerland. Not to forget Julia's gorgeous friend Kats, who is only peripheral to the mystery. Notice a trend to male-dominated plot, where women are described for their physical attributes and clothing?
>Next, the Anglo-centric nature of the story. As if the rising seas affected only England; where there is no mention why the rest of Europe still produces, even has money to invest in English projects. If one nation is struck by disaster, won't others feel economic downturns? As the story opens, 'spivs' operate a booming black market for consumer items on a barter system. When the economy improves, big players maneuver for advantage. The U.S. is a non-entity in Hamilton's world, and China a distant threat.
For those reasons, count one star off.
But that is only 'Mindstar Rising'. 'A Quantum Murder', without so many new concepts, is more of a locked door enigma. How they I.D. the perpetrator, and then document the act, is unique. Here, unlike the first story, Eleanor is a key participant in Greg's work, and Julia has matured rapidly. Old characters reappear to assist the investigation by hacking or sifting accumulated data. This is a more familiar landscape.
In conclusion, these twin stories are convoluted, intriguing, and kept me up late at night-- certainly are thought provoking.