By Peter F Hamilton
Mindstar Rising is the first volume of the Greg Mandel Trilogy by Peter F Hamilton.
First some ranting about the cover art: The cover "art" on this book is incredibly stupid looking - there's a picture of a "tough guy" (well, he looks more like a cheap actor to me) wearing a blue jacket with too short sleeves and a cheap digital watch and holding an incredibly stupid looking "Sci-Fi" gun. A gun so silly looking that even Van Damme would look good compared to it. A gun so stupid that they wouldn't even try to sell it at Toys'R'Us. Anyway - as they say, don't judge a book by its cover and in this case this is extremely good advice. Another advice: If you buy this book, don't let it lie around where your friends can see it - the moment they see it you will lose 10-20% of their belief in you as an "all-around cool guy/girl, with even cooler tastes in literature".
Mindstar Rising takes place in our near future - global warming has changed the climate of England (the playground for this book) to tropic, the sealevel have risen and lots of people have been forced to flee their homes. At the same time a lot of the country infrastructure has been destroyed. Things are bad (unless you are in the swimwear or sunblock business ). Hamilton paints a fairly interesting landscape both socially and politically, which is a nice and even somewhat essential background for the story.
Greg Mendel, an ex-member of a special army division experimenting with psi forces, has turned freelance and is trying to make a living using his ability to sense whether or not people are telling the truth. Hamilton doesn't tell us how these psi abilities work, only that it's an specially implanted gland and you need to have (latent) potential for it to work.
Mindstar Rising starts off kind of stupidly, with Mendel first doing an assassination and then using his abilities to seduce a girl (with big tits!). Gunplay and tits are usually a nice thing for keeping the less attentive movie viewers awake, but in a book of this kind, it's kind of stupid (my guess is that the cover "artist" only read this part of the book). It didn't work for me. But luckily Hamilton soon gets the ball rolling and the story on track and we are in it for one hell of a ride. Lot's of action in this story - actually the action is the main thing. Don't look for any deeper meaning in this book (well, you could, but in my opinion it's a waste of time). Even with the action being very well written this is not enough for most people (I for one) and luckily Hamilton manages to create some interesting and likeable characters. The only one of these characters that didn't work for me was the girl that Mandel seduces in the start of the book (she stays with him). She wasn't coherent somehow.
If you liked Reality Dysfunction you will probably like this one too - they share a lot of the same things: Well written action and lots of cool technology. The main difference between the two books is the complexity of the stories. Mindstar Rising follows one straight and narrow story-line, making it a far easier read than the more complex story telling in Reality Dysfunction.
Written on 1st October 1999 by TC .