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Peter F. Hamilton

Peter F. Hamilton, born 1960 in Rutland, England. Science fiction author.

Hamilton is recognised as one of the more prominent British science fiction authors of the 1990s. His trilogy of novels set in a near future Britain which has been run into the ground by a communist government and is beginning to work its way out through the production of advanced technology and featuring the psychic detective Greg Mandel first brought him to prominence in the mid-1990s. They were praised for their assured and fluent combination of the detective novel and science fiction genres, combining lively scientific, political and social speculation with ingenious detective elements to keep up the pace. His next project was rather unexpected; rather than settle into his carefully carved out niche, Hamilton wrote an extremely ambitious trilogy of space operas, known collectively as The Night's Dawn Trilogy. A very conventional space opera expanded to massive proportions - three novels each well over a thousand pages long in paperback - without becoming too flabby or bogged down, it was recognised as an impressive achievement of plotting and style, and became a significant success within the science fiction world. After writing a companion to the series (a purely informational book in the manner of the appendices to The Lord Of The Rings), a novel for young adults and a novella for the PS Publishing series of limited editions, he published his next full novel, Fallen Dragon[?]. Between the Mandel novels and the Night's Dawn trilogy in length, it can be seen as a condensation of many of the ideas and styles (and even characters) of the Night's Dawn trilogy, if rather darker in tone. His most recent novel, Misspent Youth[?], is much shorter than either the Night's Dawn books or Fallen Dragon, and is set in a near-future version of Britain different from that in the Greg Mandel trilogy. It shows a growing preoccupation with the phenomenon of European integration, which the novel portrays in a very negative light.

Hamilton's persistent themes are ambitious, particularly in Night's Dawn. He deals extensively with politics; the universe of Night's Dawn is carefully engineered as a loose alliance of independent worlds with vastly different systems of political and social organisation, which are persistently compared, contrasted and set against one another. Other common themes are the problems and opportunities of technological innovation, and the phenomenon of technological imbalance between two societies often employed in science fiction. He also tackles religion and metaphysics, again particularly in Night's Dawn. His style is generally clean, simple and quite prosaic, though this is occasionally belied by his short stories, particularly the haunting Candy Buds in Another Chance At Eden, the collection of short stories set in the Night's Dawn universe. In Night's Dawn this is a positive benefit in keeping the many different storylines progressing and allowing the reader to keep them all in mind, but in shorter works - particularly the grim Misspent Youth - it can work to his disadvantage.

His works (as of 2003):

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