Peter F. Hamilton
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Reader's Thoughts:

Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy (The Reality Dysfunction - Emergence, The Reality Dysfunction - Expansion, The Neutronium Alchemist - Consolidation, The Neutronium Alchemist - Conflict, and The Naked God - Flight, The Naked God - Faith) is a good example of a fairly hard sf (with some wild exceptions) space opera that builds a complex and interesting world. While the setting itself may not fit any era in Orion's Arm and much (such as the main plot?) is irrelevant to our setting, many planets and ideas could be used - from the Edenists, a biotech culture that seem to fit many tweak ideas perfectly, to corporate kingdoms to various interesting aliens.

Anders Sandberg

Fallen Dragon - (Minor Spoilers)

This is Peter F. Hamilton's first stand alone novel, and although Hamilton lacks Reynolds' scientific background or Zindell's incredible world building skills, he more than makes up for it with compulsive, page turning storytelling.

In the 24th century, Mankind, with the assistance of Artificial Sentience (AS) programs, has reached the stars using FTL technology. Several worlds have been terraformed and now contain millions of colonists, however this has cost Earth dearly in economic terms. Megacorps; now, to balance the books, visit the colonies every ten years to conduct "Asset Realisation", a polite term for piracy.

Lawrence Newton, sergeant in Zantiu-Braun's srategic security division and hero of the story, has plans to undertake his own asset-realisation mission in hopes of gaining enough to increase his stakeholder value and gain entrance into Z-B's starflight program, his dream since childhood. After all Lawrence and his squad of biological power armour equipped troops should be able to clean out that small group with all the advanced tech, hiding out in the hills of Thallspring...

Of all Hamilton's work this prehaps has the most relevance to Orion's Arm, especially the late first federation era. Packed full of transhumanist references (See the Santa Chico colony) and well realised technology such as one shot wormholes, skin bio-armour, i-war tools, alien nanotech and a touch of time travel. Fallen Dragon is a combination of action/adventure, romance and thriller with a fast pace, deserving a place on any sci-fi fan's bookshelf

Ben Higginbottom