Peter F. Hamilton
A Second Chance at Eden (C) (1997)
Reviewed: 2003-05-01

Table of Contents:

  1. "Sonnie's Edge"
  2. "A Second Chance at Eden"
  3. "New Days Old Times"
  4. "Candy Buds"
  5. "Deathday"
  6. "The Lives and Loves of Tiarella Rosa"
  7. "Escape Route"

This collection takes the reader back to the universe of the Night's Dawn trilogy. Seven stories, set over the course of time from the 21st to the 26th century. In several, affinity features prominently, a future form of quasi-telepathy that allows the transmission of thoughts, emotions, and sensations between bonded partners and among those possessing a general capability. Some of the stories presented pre-date the conception of the Confederation universe and were altered to fit into that timeline.

"Sonnie's Edge", "Deathday", and "Candy Buds" are three such early, retrofitted works: prize fighting with affinity-bonded animal constructs; a human settler on an insane chase after a lone xenoc that symbolizes all his failures; a greedy crime lord picks up a forlorn young girl and her crippled brother who have access to a wondrous biotech machine. All three stories have strong elements of horror in SFnal trappings.

The title story, actually a short novel, sees a new chief of police being sent to the young Eden habitat, where he immediately has to solve an impossible murder case, learns the power of affinity, and becomes witness to the founding of Edenism. The central interest of this cleverly titled piece is the narration of one of the crucial moments that shapes the later Confederation universe, but it is also a successful story in its own right.

"New Days Old Times" is a forgettable vignette showing the old ethnic conflicts still raging on on a colony world. In "The Lives and Loves of Tiarelle Rosa", an ex-terrorist flees to a remote island paradise on another planet, encounters love, and a woman who will do everything to fulfill her destiny. Finally, "Escape Route" introduces Marcus Calvert, original owner of the starship Lady Macbeth, and once and for all tells the story of what really happened to Joshua's father and the fated ship.

A Second Chance at Eden makes a great companion to the Night's Dawn books, clarifying some of the historical background, but it can also serve as an appetizer and introduction to that universe for cautious readers who want to give Hamilton a prudent try before diving into his more voluminous work.

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