I continue to be immersed in the intricacies of pre-World War One diplomatic history, so you get another retro review.
This one is a Peter F. Hamilton book, one of his few standalone works.
From November 23, 2003 …
As the novel states at the beginning, the fault of most things in the universe is money.
And money is the problem with space exploration in the mid-24th century. Space exploration and colonization just isn’t paying for itself. Colonies take centuries to repay investors. To make matters worse, some declare themselves independent of their corporate founders on Earth. The solution? The “asset-recovery mission”, legalized piracy where corporate armies swoop down on colonies to plunder them.
Lawrence Newton is a sergeant in such an army, and, when he gets word of an impending mission to the planet Thallspring, he starts to plan a little private asset realization of his own. On Thallspring, we get the story of a mission frustrated by local resistance headed up by Denise Ebourn who is much more than the simple storyteller and schoolteacher she appears to be.
Alternating with this plot is the story of how Newton, son of corporate elite on the colony Amethi, fled his home after a bitter betrayal. Spurred on by a beloved science fiction “i-drama”, he dreams of becoming a starship explorer. Twenty years later, this exiled corporate prince is a corporate mercenary and still dreaming. Counterpointed to Newton’s adventures are Ebourn’s tales, for her students, of Prince Mozark of the long dead Ring Empire and the civilizations he finds in his quest for life’s purpose and what course his people should adopt.
Thus the novel not only turns out to be filled with Hamilton’s typically clear and exciting combat sequences and technological skullduggery but is also a look at the economic constraints on space travel and colonization, the spreading of corporate uniculture on Earth and on man’s colonies, the purpose humans should find in their lives as technology advances, and the influence of science fiction’s romances on our future.
This novel doesn’t immerse you in a world as thoroughly as Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn series did simply because it has fewer pages, but Hamilton pays careful attention to his technology and economics.
And the last hundred pages of this novel will change your whole perception of what has gone before.