Peter F. Hamilton essentially stunned the Sci-Fi world with his debut novel, The Reality Dysfunction, the first volume in a literary tour-de-force. You might be surpised to hear however that the Night's Dawn Trilogy was an extension of an old idea: Affinity. Hamilton's earlier work consisted of a few short stories based around this idea and others, published in sci-fi magazines.
Now, with 'A Second Chance at Eden', these old stories, with a few new ones, are now available in one volume. It might be expected that this publication is only a market gimmick, aimed at capitilizing on the success of the earlier trilogy. Rest assured, it is nothing of the sort.
A Second Chance at Eden is comprised of six short stories, and a novella, all of which are of the highest calibre of writing, with excellent plotlines and believable characters all brought together with Hamilton's considerable skill.
The first story, 'Sonnie's Edge', is a fitting introduction to the collection. It tells the story of fighters using affinity bonded animal constructs in gladitorial combat. The surprise ending in particular, is of the highest order. Later in the book, Hamilton spins an disturbing tale of vengeance and obsession in 'Death Day', a gripping and thoroughly enjoyable story.
Fans of the series might recall a conversation in ''The Naked God' between Ione and Joshua, where she asks why his father really stopped flying. Young Captain Calvert explains, and Ione just laughs. Unbelievable or not, it was the truth, and 'Escape Route' tells the story of Marcus Calvert's last flight, and the bizarre story leading to his retirement. It's especially curious seeing as this story was published before 'The Naked God'. Without knowing which was actually written first, it's intriguing as to which was a product of which. Regardless, a first class story.
The novella of the same title as the collection, 'A Second Chance at Eden', is essentially a murder mystery. To quote from the jacket, '... it's (Eden, the habitat) creator is murdered in full view, but nobody can identify the perpetrator - or the motive'. Needless to say, Hamilton once again brandishes his considerable story-telling skills, and spins a captivating story with an excellent ending.
The other stories in the collection include 'New Days Old Times', 'Candy Buds', and 'The Lives and Loves of Tiarella Rosa'. Each one is exceptionally well written, and opens a new window into the massive world Hamilton brought to life in the earlier trilogy. All of these stories are worthy additions to the universe of the 'Night's Dawn' triology.
A point in favour of the short story format is that it does alleviate some of the drag that was found in the massive trilogy. (only infrequently, mind you). This is a good way to get your fix in measured dosages. Once again, Hamilton has outdone himself, and we can only hope there's more on the way.