A Second Chance at Eden

Author: Peter F. Hamilton

ISBN: 9780446606714
Pages: 432
Description: This is a collection of six short stories and a novella taking place in the Night’s Dawn universe before the events of the main trilogy took place. To be fair I need to say «Peter F. Hamilton» and «short» do not belong to the same sentence — the guy does not know the meaning of the word. Thus these allegedly not very long stories are not exactly short, but they are not big enough to qualify for novellas status.

According to the author himself his editor suggested to write a big novel encompassing the stories below. Hamilton delivered: he brought a 1000+ page manuscript of the first book of the trilogy and the rest is history — the best contemporary space opera writer was born. The stories themselves follow:

Sonnie’s Edge. Who would not want to see a live fight between giant robots? In the future people learned how to create any biologic life form linked to a human pilot who guides it. As you can imagine this is even more exciting than giant robots (King Kong vs. Godzilla, anybody?)
King Kong vs. Godzilla
The only problem for young and talented people who decided to be a part of the fun turned out to be the same corruption as was present in professional boxing not long ago.

A Second Chance at Eden. The novella. Somebody killed a leading scientist on Eden. That place contained only people with affinity ability — this means among other things they cannot hide their thoughts from the collective consciousness. Nobody had a clue about the villain. Freshly arrived new chief of security (affinity-free) had fun trying to untangle an impossible murder.

This is one of the few stories that add something meaningful to the main trilogy. We get to meet Wing-Tsit Chong while he was alive; we only see his legacy later.

New Days Old Times. A look at one of the colony planet, similar to infamous Lalonde, or even better — Norfolk. The colonies are brand sparkling new, but the same prejudices remain.

Candy Buds. Two orphan kids ended up being owners and operators of a biological machine capable of creating candies giving people dreams of exotic and beautiful places. Understandably the local Godfather who ruthlessly weeded out the competition wants this. What he wants, he gets. Do not think you know how this will end as a very much unexpected plot twist at the end takes care of destroying all expectations.

Deathday. Another colony; this one is definitely Lalonde of the past. It has its own disaster, but nowhere close to Lalonde’s devastating effect. One survivor is out for revenge, but will he get it?

The Lives and Loves of Tiarella Rosa. This is the main reason the final rating of the book is 3 stars instead of 4. The MC is too creepy despite the author’s attempt to show him a decent guy. Anyhow a terrorist organization got its greedy hands on some anti-matter. One of its member finally realized that it was all fun and games until somebody loses his finger and eloped with the acquired anti-matter hoping to lay low someplace and dispose of his deadly toy. He found a perfect escape on a remote island of a remote planet owned by a middle-aged woman. The guy managed to sleep with both her and her daughter creating lots of complications. Yes, Nabokov’s Lolita instantly comes to mind.

Escape Route. Finally a story that directly relates to the trilogy. It is about an event often mentioned by Joshua Calvert in the main trilogy, namely: what the heck did his father do to his famous spaceship to leave it to his son in a very bad shape. Joshua remained clueless. You will not. Hint: this story reads like an opposite of Rendezvous with Rama.
Rendezvous with Rama
This is as big spoiler as I am going to give.

The stories are good enough, but completely unnecessary for the understanding of the main trilogy. The creepy hero of The Lives and Loves of Tiarella Rosa prevented me from giving the book 4 stars — as I mentioned above.
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