Archive for December, 2010

Galileo watching the skies above Venice

I’m missing those short, pithy, poignant, saucy, thrilling James Bond books I was reading earlier in the year. What on earth made me download 37-hours-and-26-minutes’ worth of Part One of Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga called Pandora’s Star?

I only knew it was part one by looking up Peter F. Hamilton on Wikipedia and Amazon. Audible in the UK had had part two, Judas Unchained, available for download for some time before part one appeared. In fact, until recently, Judas Unchained was one of only a handful of English science fiction novels available on Audible in the UK. Otherwise I would probably never have considered downloading it. Needless to say, I did consider it. But when I looked it up, a reviewer on Amazon said I would find it incomprehensible if I hadn’t read Pandora’s Star.

So I waited.

I was so desperate to listen to some science fiction by a living English author. All the other books I’d heard of that I wanted to read weren’t available on Audible in the UK. So you can imagine my excitement when Pandora’s Star finally appeared. I had given up expecting to see it.

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken.

That was roughly 23 hours ago. 23 hours of listening time, that is. Or about three weeks of normal time.

I say normal time, but when you’re immersed in a science fiction novel with this kind of epic sweep, time is an elusive concept. In fact most of the concepts in the novel are elusive. Perhaps this is what some people call hard-core science fiction, meaning people like me with a background in the arts and humanities have no chance of understanding any of the science in it.

But there is a story in there too. Somewhere. If you can remember who all the characters are. Actually, I can remember because I have been noting them down while listening. Well, you’ve got to find something to do. 37 hours and 26 minutes is a long time.

I’m not sure what motivates a person to write a novel of this length. Or twice this length, to give him his due. Presumably he spent considerably more time writing it than I am spending listening to it. In fact I may have already spent more time listening to it than I spent writing my own novel this year. Let me do some sums in my head…

No, that is an exaggeration. I have spent considerably longer than 23 hours writing my novel, but, owing to my background in the arts and humanities, I am unable to do the sums in my head that would give you the precise figure for that.

But the conclusion is probably going to be the same as last year: I need to spend more time writing. Something like Pandora’s Star is way out of my orbit, but maybe I can manage 7 hours or so of novel if I knuckle down and get on with it.

Maybe it’s time to make another of those valuable New Year’s Resolutions.


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