Apart from being an author that consistently puts out massive sprawling space operas, Peter F. Hamilton has also produced a fair number of original short stories. These have been collected in two collection: “Manhattan in Reverse” which was published two years ago and in "A Second Chance at Eden", a collection which has been originally published in 1999 but is now reprinted by Pan with a lovely new cover art which fits nicely together with all the other Pan reprints. Second Chance of Eden collects short stories and a novella exploring technological and social background of his acclaimed The Night's Dawn trilogy, serving as prequel of sorts. Since the trilogy itself is cloaking at more than 2000 pages, I was a bit skeptical about how Peter F Hamilton will deal with something that's on such smaller scale than his usual fare but truth be told, I've enjoyed "A Second Chance at Eden" even more than I've enjoyed the original trilogy. The thing is that pieces in this collection offer similar experience to reading the novel but they ask for a little less of a time investment. You can read then in small nibbles, whenever you feel like it.
Introductory story, "Sonnie's Edge", opens up with the description of biotechnology that provides the basis for the entire setting of his The Night Dawn universe. It is a decent story which provide a great introduction to this collection. Second story, "A Second Chance at Eden" on the other hand is a basically a centerpiece to a whole collection and explores the way the technology changes society. "New Days Old Times" revolves about the idea that no matter how much technology changes the world we live in, people will still be people, together with their shortcomings, passions and prejudices. "Candy Buds" is the story about memory, virtual reality and drugs, while "Deathday" explores colonization of the universe through war and conflict. "The Lives and Loves of Tiarella Rosa" is probably my favourite story of the collection and sports quite a few unexpected twists and turns. "Escape Route", final story in the collection is an worthy conclusion and provides additional details to the trilogy. It includes starship Lady Macbeth as it encounters long-abandoned alien spacecraft.
While it must be said that the collection as such is best explored in the context of the entire trilogy,just about every story can be read and enjoyed on their own. "A Second Chance at Eden" is great addition to the trilogy and might just be what you're looking for if you are a newcomer to Peter F. Hamilton and don't want to invest significant time in reading one of his door-stoppers.
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