In an attempt to discover more about the sci-fi genre, I am currently working my way through Peter F. Hamilton’s space opera – Great North Road. So far, there has been another death, some memories are being revisited and I’m starting to wonder just how different sci-fi is to the genres that I normally read after all.
I haven’t had much of a chance to get much reading done over the past couple of weeks but this weekend I was finally able to settle down to some serious page turning. Great North Road is one of those books that has the amazing ability to make time and paper trickle through your fingers and before you know it, it’s nearly midnight and you’ve read about 100 pages in one sitting. In Part 3, it felt like things were slowing down a bit, and they definitely aren’t fast paced now but there is more happening and I feel a lot more invested in the story. The expedition to find aliens on St. Libra has finally started properly and although there hasn’t been any developments in the murder case back in Newcastle, things are certainly getting more interesting with Detective Hurst and his co-workers starting to initiate slight unorthodox methods to finally get some results. The characters are coming into their own now as well, they feel real, tangible and multi-dimensional.
So, what has happened so far? Well, Newcastle Police are still stumped on pretty much everything to do with the death of the orth Clone. The exact identity of the victim, along with what killed him and how or why he was killed are still eluding them, but on the plus side, Hurst and his family are looking to buy a new house, so that’s nice. St. Libra has finally properly been introduced and it sounds amazingly beautiful if not hot and sticky. There is also a whole new side plot and characters to contend with. This time, it centres on a 50 year old surfer named Saul who seems to have a rather shady background – which is being exploit by another North clone who may or may not be a cult leader. The search for the alien that might not exist is ongoing but apart from the death of the slightly odd and unpleasant death of one of the admin team, there hasn’t been much of a development there. You finally get to find out more about the background of Angela, the women who has spent that last 20 years in prison for the identical murder that took place prior to the start of the story.
One of the things that I have noticed most over the last two weeks is how Hamitlon is slowly leading me away from the murder case and is starting to focus more on the expedition on St Libra. At the same time, I’m being taken away from the detective story that the book started with and being led slowly into the science fiction world that I wanted to learn about and that I am guessing many readers would pick up the books for. For someone who still considers themselves a novice to the genre, this has been a very smooth and nice way to get involved in sci-fi. Even now, I feel like I don’t really understand some of the things that are going on or some of the concepts that are discussed but I realise that this is mostly just from lack of experience. There are ideas that are typical in a fantasy story that I probably don’t think twice about but that would confuse anyone who is unfamiliar with that sort of story. Luckily for me, the sections that don’t make much sense are starting to feel few and far between and I feel a lot more comfortable with the setting and the characters. It may have taken nearly 300 pages but I think I finally have a handle on things and know that is going on 90 % of the time.
Most importantly though, I’m enjoying it! I wish that I had starting reading these sorts of books before now and I wonder how many great new authors and books are waiting for me now that this whole new area have opened up. As I’ve said before, I always liked science fiction when it came to other forms of media but there was always something about the books that put me off. I think I’ll always prefer my fantasy stories but I’m certainly not going to dismiss this genre from my bookshelf any longer.