In an attempt to discover more of the sci-fi genre, I am currently working my way through Peter F. Hamilton’s space opera – Great North Road. So far, a clone has been murdered, there have been many mentions of technology that I don’t quite understand and it turns out that even in the year 2143, Newcastle still has horribly cold winters.
Since the end of Part 1, the story has left Jupiter orbit and returned to Newcastle and the murder of a seemingly unidentifiable North family clone. More characters and agencies have also been introduced as well as a second seemingly identical murder case. I have to say, there is an awful lot going on in this book, so much so, that I am struggling to decide where to begin.
Previously, my main struggle with this book came with regards to what felt like the constant introduction of new technology. I found it hard to keep up with and it reminded me of the main reason that I had turned away from sci-fi books in the past: I can’t picture what is happening. With films and games, all the visuals are doing for you but with books, this is up to you. Normally, this is one of the things I love most about reading but there is something about technology and futuristic elements that makes it particularly hard to visualise. Now, however, after a week of allowing myself to not have to understand every detail, either this is starting to level off or I am just starting to get the hang of it now. The further that I get into the story, the more that a picture of how everything works is starting to come together. There are still times when I don’t understand what a character is doing with regards to tech but these times are occurring less and less. One thing that I am particularly interested in though is the e-i that all the characters seem to have. An e-i appears to be a networked computer service that has somehow been built into the human body. It allows people to check computer files and information on smart cells in their eyes, can overlay information onto a person’s surroundings and can allow people to contact each other without the need for a phone. They can also, to some extent, access other people’s e-i’s and watch their memories. I’m sure it has many other uses that are yet to be described and it’s fair to say that I don’t fully understand it or how it works yet, but I do know that I kind of want one! (I like my gadgets!)
Instead of getting confused over the futuristic setting of the book, this week, my main issue has been with the names of the characters. As I said earlier, more characters have been introduced as the story starts to get into full flow. The clones that make up the North family are split into three groups, depending on which ‘original’ clone they are descended from. All the clones descended from Augustine have a name beginning with A, all those descended from Bartram have a name beginning with B and all of those descended from Constantine have a name beginning with C. This is helpful and enables the reader to keep track of who is who and where they come from. However, what then causes confusion are the non-clone characters that also have a name beginning with A,B or C. There have been times where for an entire section of the story, I had thought that someone was a clone because of the name beginning with A. I was confused about some of the ways he was acting, it didn’t seem to fit and then I realised that he actually wasn’t a clone at all and suddenly everything slotted into place.
All in all this week, I am finding myself slipping into this story more and more easily each time that I open the book. The introduction of a previous identical murder with a suspect having already been convicted is an excellent addition to an already intriguing case. As an avid fan of crime and mystery fiction, I am also enjoying the fact that because of the science fiction elements and setting of the story, there is no way for me to predict what is going to happen or who is actually responsible. It is just as likely to be some alien creature from another planet as it is to be the slightly quiet character who hangs around on the side lines. it’s wonderful to have a story that is genuinely new and refreshing to you. The characters are also continuing to grow on me; there are those that I am happy to see and those whose arrival makes me groan.
Great North Road is making me wish that I had delved into the science fiction genre long before now. Last week, I was worried at how long this book is, thinking that I would never be able to get through it. Now I’m glad because it means I have many nights of discovery ahead of me.