The Mandel Files A Quantum Murder by Peter F. Hamilton.

August 4, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

Del Rey have done all Peter F. Hamilton fans, particularly in the US and Canada, a big favour by collecting his first two published novels, ‘Mindstar Rising’ and ‘A Quantum Murder’, into this large format paperback nearly twenty years after they were originally published. Both stories follow the fortunes of ex-military telepath Greg Mandel, hence ‘The Mandel Files’. If you have read and enjoyed Hamilton’s later novels but have never made your way to the start of his back catalogue, I would encourage you to check this volume out.

In ‘Mindstar Rising’, which was originally published in 1993, Hamilton takes us forwards four decades to the England of 2030. The country has suffered massively from runaway climate change, leading to a collapse in social institutions and ten years of hard-left rule by the People’s Socialist Party. Their authoritarian communist policies nearly ruined England, until a popular uprising swept them from power. Now the New Conservatives are trying to rebuild.

Greg Mandel is hired by powerful multi-national Event Horizon to find out who is trying to destroy their business. Event Horizon’s elderly billionaire owner, Philip Evans, is very ill and although he wants to hand the business over to his granddaughter and heir, seventeen year-old Julia, many of the company’s hugely powerful shareholders are not convinced that she’s ready for the responsibility. So when Philip stages his own death after downloading himself into Event Horizon’s computer network, the first human to successfully do this, Julia has to call Greg in when someone tries to destroy her grandfather’s new existence by hacking the system. Can Greg use his telepathic skills to work out who is to blame and stop them?

The Mandel Files Volume 1: Mindstar Rising * A Quantum Murder by Peter F. Hamilton

Quantum!

‘A Quantum Murder’, originally published in 1994, follows on from ‘Mindstar Rising’ at a distance of two years. In that time, Greg has married Eleanor, the girl-friend he met at the start of the first book, and they have retired to the countryside with the large amount of money that Julia Evans gave them for saving Event Horizon and her grandfather.

Greg is contacted by Julia once again after Edward Kitchener, an eccentric Nobel Prize-winning physicist who has been doing some research on wormholes for Event Horizon’s space division, is horribly murdered. Due to the inaccessibility of Launde Abbey, his reclusive retreat from the world, the only suspects are the six students who lived and studied with him at the Abbey. It quickly becomes clear, though, that they all adored him. Greg is asked to find out who killed him and whether he died because of his research for Event Horizon. Can Greg catch the killer before he strikes again?

In judging Hamilton’s scenario for England in 2030, it’s worth remembering that these novels were both written nearly twenty years ago, at a time when John Major was the Prime Minister, the Rio Earth Summit had brought the issue of climate change to worldwide attention for the first time, the routine use of email and the Internet was still rare outside academia and Tony Blair had yet to become Labour leader, let alone abandon the party’s historic attachment, through clause four of its constitution, to common ownership of the means of production. Seen in that context, rather than in the aftermath of thirteen years of New Labour, Hamilton’s suggestion of a decade of English decline under a soviet-style politburo seems a little less fanciful than it initially looked from 2012. Equally, his climate change scenario, though happening much more rapidly than all but the very worst current projections would suggest, is a lot more believable when seen through an early 1990s telescope.

I was amazed to see how much of Hamilton’s mature style was already present in these early novels. The central character, Greg Mandel, is given life and breath through many small points of detail, coming together to paint a picture of a man who can be a brutally efficient killer when he needs to but spends most of his time being thoughtful, caring and insightful. He has grown to accept his telepathy for the useful tool that it is, even if it makes him an outsider in any group which knows about it. He is a strong and sympathetic hero whom it is easy to root for. The supporting characters are differentiated from each other with unique details that make them believable and interesting in their own right. More generally, the clear plotting and easy writing style of Hamilton’s later books are here right from the start, making this a definite page-turner.

The two novels that are collected in this volume wear their age remarkably lightly. I thoroughly enjoyed getting acquainted with Peter F. Hamilton’s earliest published writing. If you like near-future Science Fiction I’m sure you will, too.

pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books. 388 page enlarged paperback. Price: $19.95 (US), $22.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-52635-9.
check out websites: www.delreybooks.com and www.peterfhamilton.co.uk

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Category: Books, MEDIA, Scifi

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  1. avatar Big D says:

    Great review. I have been meaning to try Peter F. Hamilton for a long time. This looks like a great place to start.

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