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Peter F. Hamilton and too much nonlinearity

Does anyone actually understand Peter F. Hamilton? I'm reading Pandora's Box -- at only one 1k-pages volume, one of his smaller works -- and it was mostly making sense until all of a sudden a whole bunch of things happened simultaneously to a dozen major characters, at distances of several hundred light years. Now, I'm willing to punt on simultaneity, since Hamilton employs faster-than-light travel in the form of wormholes... but his haracters switch allegiances and bodies and possibly even names partway through, and sometimes they are dead for a few decades before getting re-lifed, and sometimes they forget their own memories on purpose... But still, really I was mostly following it -- socialist terrorism, safe but strange aliens, wormholes, and infinite rejuvenation -- until the narrative suddenly ended up 250 light years away with humans in between the midddle of at least one unknown alien civilization's nuclear bomb party.

On a scale from extremely non-linear and distributed narrative to linear single-person narrative, I've only found three books that go too far towards extremely non-linear:

  • Pandora's Box by Peter F. Hamilton

  • Ilium by Dan Simmons

  • Light by M. John Harrison

Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and Baroque Cycle do meta-linear just right, and I absolutely adore Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. I'll even admit to enjoying George R. R Martin's Storm of Swords epic. Looking at my bookshelf, I don't see any books which I found too linear... but then, there aren't many linear books on my bookshelf, except for a few memoirs... although even memoirs tend to be composed in little chunks; August Burroughs begins Magical Thinking, his latest memoir, with a detailed story about being in a Tang commercial which I can't begin to place in the narrative of Running with Scissors, supposedly the memoir of his insane childhood.

I suppose the real literary theorists will argue with my imposing a linear scale on non-linearness. Feel free to suggest a better way of thinking about it, or help me figure out what's going on with the middle five hundred pages of Pandora's Box.

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