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on 5 March 2015
In titling this review I have deliberately played with the plot of the book. “Mindstar Rising” in fact has as its protagonist a former military, Greg Mandel, who was implanted with a special gland that allows him to feel the emotions of other people, and in a sense, to read their minds, even if not literally. Mandel is now a private detective who finds himself investigating a plot of global reach focused on the young heir to a billionaire. The story is set in a dystopian near future, a future in which global warming has transformed England into an almost deserted place where seas invaded the coasts and changed their morphology, where oil is over, and people live in a world degraded in a mixture of low and high tech, the second especially is the prerogative of the rich.
The setting is picturesque, though I cannot stand post-apocalyptic stories, but the plot revolves around something very different and so this aspect hasn’t had a negative influence on my judgment.
Although we are faced with situations very different from those of the usual books by Hamilton, his style is recognizable in the extreme complexity of the plot, the description of uninhibited erotic situations narrated as something natural, his long scenes that keep you glued to the pages of the book, his sought language that forces you to concentrate to the maximum while reading, the ending that can tear a smile.
This is the first novel of Hamilton, the first of a trilogy that I will continue to read soon. In a sense, I appreciated it even more than his space operas, perhaps because imagining a near future gave me more references in the present and made it easier to imagine myself in the story. Hamilton’s characters are alive and you just want to know more about them. Also it is a thriller set in the future with shades of transhumanism, in other words a cyberpunk technothriller, but very contemporary, although it was published twenty years ago and some technological aspect is slightly outdated. But it differs from a certain obscurity of other books of this subgenre dated back to ten or more years earlier, making it an accessible read to a wider audience that goes beyond science fiction.
Unfortunately, the book has never been translated into my language (Italian) and reading it in English requires a good knowledge of the language, given the richness of the language used by the author and his high register. But it can also be an opportunity to improve your English.
Finally, the edition I read, the one published on the twentieth anniversary of the novel (each copy is numbered and signed by the author) also contains a previously unpublished novella in the first part of the book, but chronologically inserted at the end of the trilogy. It is a proper detective story, but set in the future and with an unpredictable and politically incorrect ending, which I would call it à la Hamilton and which makes it very different from other stories of this genre.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli (Red Desert - Point of No Return)
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on 14 July 2013
This is the first of Peter F Hamilton's books that I've read and I have to say, it wasn't what I expected! I've never been into Science Fiction but after a lovely meal with Peter (including an awkward discussion about having never read his books) I decided I should give some of his work a go! I actually enjoyed it far more than I thought it would, so it just goes to show, you mustn't judge a book by its genre!
The story is set in post-apocalyptic Britain. Global warming has hit resulting in soaring temperatures and drastic rises in sea levels, altering the country. The land is scorched and all previously low-lying land is now submerged below a metre or two of water. On higher ground the population has become much denser due to the migration of those from low-lying grounds. Not only that, the country has been under the power of the People's Socialist Party, a hard, left-wing dictatorship with a devastating ruling. As you can imagine the country and its people are in a bit of mess. For me Hamilton built the world well, perhaps too well at times. He describes the surrounding environment, habitats, climate fairly often throughout the book and always with precision detail. I prefer to read a book and develop an image of the world in my head through the contextual clues given. I felt as though too much was given to the reader which meant it lost an element of imagination for me.

However, the world that Hamilton creates is perfect for the plot he has lined up. Despite the bleak scene, Event Horizon headed by billionaire Phillip Evans, is returning to England, after years of avoiding the PSP, to help those in need. It seems Event Horizon is just what the country needs to rise again, providing employment and advances in technology beyond the rest of the world. Until, of course, it all starts to go wrong.

A spoiler operation is run against Event Horizon causing chaos. After narrowly avoiding a complete meltdown of the company, Phillip Evans enlists the services of our main character, Greg Mandel. Greg is an ex-soldier from the Mindstar Brigade, struggling to survive after the PSP. His character is clearly defined, coming across as a straight talking, no messing kind of guy. Did I mention his psychic ability? The entire Mindstar brigade had psychic glands implanted; Greg's being telepathy (the ability to read minds). This isn't as straight forward as it seems. Greg's ability to read mind is limited to only being able to tell if people are lying. From there he has to play detective and figure it out. It is for this reason that Phillip Evans hires Greg; he wants to know which of his employees was involved in the spoiler operation

This sends Greg into a case that should have been simple: Interview the staff, use his espersence to find out who was lying, job done. Only it's never that simple. A second attack, terrifying villains, a second-psychic comrade, a gland-enhanced granddaughter and a web of lies keep you guessing right up to the end of this story. Hamilton's plot is well thought-out, with multiple angles all coming together neatly at the end. I like a tidy book!!

Given that this book was written in 1993, 20 years ago, it's slightly out dated. However I didn't feel it detracted from the story at all as long as you kept that in mind. Hamilton's use of technology was inventive and in-depth. Whilst I followed the majority of Hamilton's meaning, I cannot confess to fully understanding all of his technological advances and found some of the descriptions and explanations laborious and at times dull. As a self-diagnosed technophobe, I was never going to understand it all but it was encouraging to find that even those with limited technology knowledge/experience could follow and understand their uses.

I had some issues with Hamilton's characters. The females seemed to be very stereotypical and seeped in sexuality. It was a bit much at times and didn't seem necessary to the story. Also, without giving away any spoilers, Greg's comment regarding his psychic comrade, where he was able to forgive her for letting herself go, was a little off!

All in all, I enjoyed this read! It was an exciting, well paced, near-future sci-fi read that will keep you hooked. I think I'll be trying some of Hamilton's other books!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 5 August 2014
« Mindstar Rising » is the first book of the Greg Mandel trilogy and the author’s first book. It was advertised when first published in 1993 as marking “the debut of a major talent in British SF.” For once, the sales pitch was a rather major understatement. This is certainly a five star book, and for many reasons.

Although written more than twenty years ago, the book’s context is still topical, with global warming and subsequent floods and climate changes and a major “Credit Crash”. The UK has been misgoverned and mismanaged by the “People’s Socialist Party” (PSP) who came to power in the wake of the crash and imposed a decade’s dictatorship that further damaged the country before being ousted from power two years before the beginning of this book. Since then, the “Second Restauration” (of the Monarchy) has been ushered in. The New Conservatives are in power but followers of the old regime are still in place and the economy is just opening up after a period of autarky that saw a return to agriculture and heavy de-industrialization.

The story’s hero is one Greg Mandel; a veteran from the Mindstar Battalion (a kind of SAS Regiment whose soldiers have special powers) made up of elite and now demobilized soldiers. These powers are generated by the glands that they have been implanted in them. These come at a heavy price when used and even when they are not as their bearers suffer from side effects and are feared and somewhat treated as pariah by the rest of the population. Greg Mandel’s “special” talents get him hired by the dying Philip Evans, at the head of Event Horizon, the leading British conglomerate who was at the forefront of the effort to bring down the PSP’s dictatorship, to investigate security breaches and losses in the sprawling group.

I will not give away anymore of the plot to avoid spoilers. Suffice is to say that this science fiction story takes place in a near future where the consequences of global warming, including floods around Peterborough which has become a major port and industrial zone, and a tropical climate are associated with a major economic meltdown. The contrasts between rundown and derelict suburbs and districts controlled by paramilitary street gangs and pristine high tech new ones where the new money and power is gathered are particularly well

The characters are also mostly well thought out and well-drawn, particularly those of Greg Mandel and the two Evans - the no nonsense tough “robber-baron” grandfather and founder and his teen aged and unsure of herself grand-daughter. Another great character was Royan, the genius but sad and pathetic hacker, for reasons that are explained in the book (and which I will mention, again to avoid spoilers). The “nasties” were a bit less convincing, perhaps because they were informingly “bad” and even sociopaths.

The story itself is quite fast paced, relatively brief (compared to Peter Hamilton’s more recent “mammoth” novels anyway) and rather exciting with quite a bit of suspense. The book itself is a cross between multiple genres including science fiction, techno-thriller and spy story. Some of the author’s subsequent themes, including the role and ruthlessness of major global corporates and their security “operatives” (here called “hardliners”) and that of rather corrupt, often inefficient and bureaucratic governments and politicians.

This is a book that I had read twenty years ago and came across a few days back when shorting out books on my (multiple!) shelves. Needless to say, I ended up reading it yet again from cover to cover and everything else had to wait. I loved it twenty years ago and enjoyed it just as much this time!
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on 15 April 2016
As a Peter Hamilton Fan, I really regret buying this book. Its a dire right wing polemic. And more than most books one might read, it makes excessive use of known corporate names. There is very little to recommend this book for me. Ad dodgy economics to predictable writing, a Villain taken out of the xenophobes guide to Europe.
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on 18 July 2017
Reread this book recently and really enjoyed it. Sort of a Sci Fi detective novel combination that works well
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on 6 May 2008
I really enjoyed mindstar rising, I found it a refreshing take on the cyberpunk genre. Being set in englans was refreshing and the use of global warming in place of nuclear conflict makes the premise seem more likely. The main character is very much a straight forward military type with added psychic powers. Some people have knocked the book for having flat characters, this isn't something I noticed or had any issue with. There is a fine balance between mystery and action here and it is never dull. Well worth all sci fi fans checking out.
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on 15 October 2006
One of his early books and a good, easy read. Treats the future with a realistic view (especially in light of current politics) and the military aspects were believable and based upon rational actions. Problem with so many sci-fi books using military sub-plots is the total lack of reality when it comes to both military action sequences, dialogue and personalities. As an ex-soldier, you can see real events unfold and he stays away from the "stereotypical" protrayal of ex-soldiers.

If you're politically correct or of the liberal persuasion you won't like it!
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on 7 November 2016
Since the unfortunate loss of Iain M Banks this author now has to be one of the best science fiction writers alive today. This goes for all his works in my opinion.
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on 10 October 2008
This is a book that I never tire of reading.
It may not be the epic of the Reality Dysfunction and Hamilton's later works but the Greg Mandel universe is a great one to immerse oneself in.
So many interesting ideas come together for the first time: The Warming and the impact of the environment, the alternative UK future, the weapons tech and the hotrodding.
It's a fun universe and one that I keep coming back to. I'm sure Peter Hamilton does not think this is his best ever book but I think it's an absolute classic and one that I'll read again!
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on 11 August 1999
The ten year rule of a far left government and global warming have taken its toll on Britain. The economy is just starting to kick into life again, but who is trying to sabotage Event Horizons plan to make Britain great again ?. Enter Greg Mandell a psi enhanced ex soldier with a decidely shady past. I enjoyed this book immensely. It romps along at a fair old pace with some stunning set pieces . Recommended.
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