|Peter F Hamilton - novelist, creator of the Commonwealth|
|Endings and flashbacks|
|Looking to tomorrow|
Described as "Britain's best selling science fiction author," Peter F Hamilton is a prolific writer of epic space opera. Best known for the Greg Mandel Trilogy, the Night's Dawn trilogy, the Commonwealth Saga and more recently the Void Trilogy, he is currently touring to meet his fans and promote his new standalone novel, Great North Road. On Wednesday 10th October, his schedule took him to Edinburgh where he was kind enough to spare a few minutes to talk to Geek Chocolate.
Geek Chocolate - In Great North Road we are intermittently reminded that the detective, Sid Hurst is not long back from a suspension from duty, but we never really know what for, and there was a feeling that compared to the other story lines we would never find out. Why did you choose not to reveal that part of his life?
Peter F Hamilton – There is a reveal on that about half way through, a third of the way through. Police in that time, most of their work is done by agencies. There’s sort of a core of genuine police, and they get paid nothing, so it’s kind of accepted that you play the system with the companies, and he did that and just did it one time too often. But internally in the police force there wasn’t much of a stigma attached to that.
GC – You seem to like a good whodunit. What draws you to police procedurals?
PFH – They work well in science fiction because with a detective character you get down to those dirty mean streets and you can have a good look around through him at the society you’ve created, the problems that are there, the benefits that are there. It’s a narrative way at looking around the universe you’ve created.
GC – Religion plays a major part in the motivation for some of the main characters, always placing our existence in a hierarchy behind greater intangible forces. Why do you bring us back to the question of existence?
PFH - It’s one character who is deeply motivated by religion. The rest of them have sort of moved on from that but are reminded by the forces around them that there is a bigger life form in the universe, there is more to life than what we see. Questioning existence is what everybody does, it’s as simple as that. I do it through the eyes of science fiction through, the drama that unfolds in Great North Road.
GC - When you kill-off a character, at what point do you decide it’s a good idea? Are you ever glad when you’ve bumped somebody off?
PFH – Oh, a good one! Some of them serve a useful purpose by being killed off. You can’t be afraid of killing them off, but the main protagonists tend to survive through most of the book because that’s the way you identify with the story, that’s the way the readers see the story you’ve created, as I’ve said. I’m not afraid of killing off, but it’s done judiciously.
GC - There are a few distinctive ideologies concerning the future of the human race, one which pursues eternal youth and remaining as we are, another that looks for evolution through the accumulation of wealth, and another that seeks to be isolated from the rest of the human race and start again. Why was it important to address these?
PFH – The questions is talking about the three ways that the North family splits. Because that basically covers all the bases. It’s the three brothers and it’s the three routes they choose. None of them is more valid, if you like, than the other. Some of them are quicker, some of them are tougher. They each have their own belief in the way we should be evolving, the way we should be bring about change to other people less fortunate than ourselves. It’s three sides of the coin.