Friday, 27 October 2000

Peter F. Hamilton: Mindstar Rising (1993)

Edition: Pan, 1993
Review number: 664

Peter Hamilton's first novel introduces his psychic detective Greg Mandel (named of course, though rather oddly, after the monk who founded the science of genetics). It has a rich background, even though it is set only fifty years or so in the future. Global warming has changed the climate, and destroyed low lying country as the polar ice caps have melted. At the same time, an inept Socialist dictatorship has destroyed the British economy before being swept away in a revolution. Mandel was part of an experimental army corps (known as Mindstar) with a special gland which enhances latent telepathy. When this expensive unit was disbanded, he became part of the revolution, helping organise guerillas in Peterborough housing estates swamped by refugees from the flooding of the fens.

Now, he has become a private investigator, and is hired by the big success story of the new Britain, the electronics company Event Horizon, to investigate sabotage in their orbiting microchip factory. This turns out to be quite complicated, and Hamilton creates a story influenced by cyberpunk including computers, drugs, telepathy and a fair amount of violence. He occasionally uses somewhat dubious shortcuts. Mandel's friends include an incredibly talented computer hacker and a fellow psychic who can see the future. The latter saves time by telling Mandel that if he did go ahead and interview two hundred workers who might be connected to the sabotage, then he would find out nothing; this is extremely convenient.

This is a relatively minor quibble with an interesting and enjoyable novel, much better than its sequel, A Quantum Murder.

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