50 Page Fridays: Peter F. Hamilton


Every Friday, we here @ Del Rey Spectra will place a 50 page excerpt of a selected title on Unbound Worlds. Whether it is science fiction, epic fantasy, alternate history, horror, urban fantasy, paranormal, the possibilities are endless.

Great North Road, Peter F. Hamilton’s riveting new thriller, combines the nail-biting suspense of a serial-killer investigation with clear-eyed scientific and social extrapolation to create a future that seems not merely plausible but inevitable. Let’s here what the author has to say:

“Ask most people, and they’ll tell you I’m an author of series (large ones). My last stand-alone novel, Fallen Dragon, was published in 2001. And since then I’ve brought out five books, all set in my Commonwealth universe. So why the change? Why bring out a single novel again? Simple, really; I wanted the change. Writing series is enjoyable, and from a writer’s point of view edging towards comfy. By now I’m familiar enough with the Commonwealth that I don’t need too many new notes if I start a fresh book set there. And that leads to a danger of getting trapped in a rut.

So this is one reason why Great North Road exists, along with me wanting to tell this particular story. Not only is it a stand-alone novel, it’s in a brand new universe. That takes time to put together. Out of the two years I spent writing Great North Road, the first six months was devoted entirely to worldbuilding: making sure the society I was thinking of worked, and then refining the details until I was convinced it was plausible. As it’s set only a hundred and thirty years in the future, I had to be a lot more careful how I extrapolated trends and their impact on society. You can’t get away with as much as you can with a story set a couple of thousand years ahead.

The advantage of this is that it gives me an opportunity to try out new ideas–and not just technology, but the way the book is written, too. Great North Road takes place over a hundred days, with each day effectively being one chapter–an interesting choice of structure when you consider that Great North Road is 1000 pages long! (I’m not the most popular author in the production department.) But as this is a one-off, I can use it with confidence. Besides, there’s a lot of the main character’s life told in flashback, filling in her motives and astonishing upbringing.

Which brings us to: what’s it all about? Well, at heart it’s a detective story. With aliens–possibly. It’s also a love story. And then there’s a big chunk of shiny military hardware. And also the faith people have in themselves and their ideals. And not forgetting how some things just never change. Plus… well, after all it is 1000 pages long. I hope you enjoy it.”

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Please enjoy this excerpt of GREAT NORTH ROAD, on sale January 1st!

Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton, Excerpt