‘Manhattan In Reverse’, P. Hamilton

Look at you, what you’re doing – you hoard entire planets in readiness for the day when you can dismantle them and fabricate something in their place. What? What can possibly need building on such a scale?
— Hamilton, Peter F. (2011-10-07). Manhattan in Reverse (Kindle Locations 1319-1320). Macmillan Publishers UK. Kindle Edition.

I like a very grand scale. Peter Hamilton has been able to provide it in his other work I’ve read, ‘The Great North Road’. In this collection of short stories, he has done that again — but in a way where he introduces me to his other universes. And I liked them. There is a certain grandeur to anything spanning tens (and tens of thousands) of light years, and the author has certainly not held himself back in creating these possibilities.

Of the short stories in this collection, I was pleasantly surprised by nearly all of them. ‘Watching Trees Grow’ appealed to me mostly due to the lasting nature of what was a horrible crime – a murder committed in the early 19th century would take a few centuries to be solved. And yet, due to the near-infinite lifespans (well, infinite by the end of the short story at any least) the perpetrator could be brought to justice. And what perseverance to not give up in search of who the person could have been! I wonder if I had the same sort of tenacity if I had need of it. I hope I would.

‘Footvote’ was appealing due to its critique of a government — and the thought that if there was a greener pasture, people would go move if it was easy and accessible. And I think that any person reading it can think of the events at the very end of the story as a measure of what anyone has to give up for whatever purposes. I do not want to give the ending away, but in a sense I would like to do that — it could create a debate worth having in my opinion. Read it, and see what you think. 😉

‘If At First’ and ‘The Forever Kitten’ are not that remarkable, but I have no real objections to them either. I do not recall them very well, although ‘If At First’ makes for an interesting morality question that would go along the lines of: is the ‘criminal’ here a criminal since he is improving the livelihoods of millions of people? Probably the answer is yes since he is doing that with the purpose of self-enrichment, but I know that not everyone would agree with me.

And ‘Blessed By An Angel’, ‘The Demon Trap’, and ‘Manhattan In Reverse’ are the ones which introduced me to Mr Hamilton’s Commonwealth. A galaxy-spanning entity of great power that has been able to secure peace in its lands and welfare for a number of the people (clearly not all of them), I would wish that we do not end up any worse (although I would not mind better!). Paula Myo is a detective whose other adventures I would like to read about (and I certainly will at some point), and I prefer the two stories which had her in it (the two latter ones).

Of their themes, ‘The Demon Trap’ might be the most interesting given it concerns the question of who is actually responsible for an action. It is difficult to describe, but a most interesting question once one actually sees what the problem is about. To make it succinct: if your consciousness was separated from your body at a time when your body committed a crime, are you guilty of the crime?

So, there we go. =)

Even now, fear is alien to her. This is the Commonwealth.
— Hamilton, Peter F. (2011-10-07). Manhattan in Reverse (Kindle Locations 2221-2222). Macmillan Publishers UK. Kindle Edition.

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