Sep 062011

While using the stationary bike at my in-laws’ beach house this past weekend, I pulled Kevin J. Anderson’s “Hidden Empire” off the shelf to kill time. It’s the first of the seven-book series “Saga of Seven Suns”; an epic space opera about an extremely powerful alien civilization that lives in the cores of gas giants, and attacks Earth’s colonies in retaliation for the accidental destruction of one of their planets.

Aaron had had this series at home, but gave it to his dad when he was done. He saw I was reading it, and warned me that it was merely “ok”, but I liked it enough to keep reading. I finished the first book and started on the second before we left, bringing the whole series back home with me.

The various plots are very similar to those in Peter Hamilton’s three big series, and I really loved all of them (though I liked the “Night’s Dawn” series a bit less than the others due to a couple really dull subplots). However, I’m finding that Anderson’s series is less compelling than any of Hamilton’s, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Anderson has created multiple highly-detailed and well thought-out civilizations and cultures, distinctive and consistent characters, and linked his subplots together well (so far).

It just hit me: the tech is lacking.

All of Hamilton’s series had fascinating examples of imagined future technology, and he described them in such detail that I wanted them to be real; I wanted neural nanonics, Affinity, Gaia motes, field functions, and to be a Multiple (and still do). He also described many scenes involving technology in a techno-thriller style, slowing down an event that happened in a mere second or two and describing each step in the chain.

By contrast, Anderson’s tech is pretty pedestrian. The inner workings of the Klikiss Torch, early in the first book, is fairly interesting, but so far there’s nothing that’s made me say, “That’s so cool!”.

I’ll probably keep reading the series, because the story is interesting and there’ve been some good plot twists, but if I were to grade the first book I’d have to give it a B.

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