Random musings on Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga

Peter F. Hamilton Commonwealth Saga:
Pandora's Star, Judas Unchained

This is really a single book published as two volumes but as each is around 1200 pages, it would be way too big as a single book. It's a pretty good read, complex with many threads.

I have some issues with the "technology". Given of course that in reality advanced technology is not always completely understood by most people using it but it is somewhat of a trope in novels that many things are explained to us the readers that the characters in the book don't get to see.

As a platform for his exploration of longevity with rejuvenation and recording and recloning life the saga is an interesting but distracting platform. As with the wormhole/teleportation technology he doesn't really explore much the possibility of duplication. Perhaps wormholes create teleportation without the issue of duplication but the longevity technology doesn't have the same limitation at all.

The commonwealth is based on wormhole technology which allows people to move between worlds not too far away (in light years), instantaneously. Generators can create a wormhole between the gateway and a point up to some light years distance. I think of the maths involved in tracking a wormhole between a spot on the rotating and revolving and vibrating Earth and the rotating and revolving and vibrating surface of Mars. Not a simple thing. It is never explained how wormholes are limited by distance. There is some limit. How many light years away is too far? Is the limit energy? Surely wormholes could allow you to skim energy off a sun more directly and open the availability of vast amounts of energy? That is never explored. Is the energy required to set up the wormhole or to run it or to transfer stuff or all three?

I like his use of trains as the main form of transport through the wormholes. A very British idea and well handled. Kind of quantum steam-punk.

One thing that is never explored is the use of wormholes themselves as a weapon. I can't see why you couldn't slice off part of a ship or missile. OK force fields would apparently stop that. Or place a wormhole in front of a missile or ship and transfer it into the sun or far away. Or shoot missiles back into hostile wormholes. None of the ships have their own wormholes as transporters or weapons even though their FTL drive is based on wormholes. A ship equipped with wormhole missile launchers? Transporters to the planet? Why not?

This also brings up the whole problem of what happens at the edges of the wormholes. Especially a floating one, generated by a single gateway at a distance. Also what would happen if a wormhole somehow turned off when you were half way through is not discussed.

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