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7: Peter F Hamilton - Misspent Youth

Author: Peter F Hamilton
Title: Misspent Youth
Genre: Rutland SF
Published: MacMillan 2002
Pages: 439
Purchased: Borders, Cambridge, 2004-01-24, £6.99
ISBN: 0-330-48022-7

Hamilton is undoubtedly most famous for the huge (in volume terms) 'Night's Dawn' trilogy, where he mixed Space Opera with Horror. However, he has also set a number of books in Rutland in the near future. It's a close enough future that fellow writer Graham Joyce can here make an appearance as a character (Joyce lives in the neighbouring county of Leicestershire).

Hamilton's future is a little dystopian, but not (mainly) for normal SF reasons. Instead, it's the EU. Brussels has ruined England (and presumably the rest of the UK, but specifically England). Fuel is, of course, expensive, there is almost total surveillance of everything due to the ability to store huge amounts of data in electronic crystals, and the EIC (fighting for English independence) makes the IRA look like a bunch of wusses.

Into this, Hamilton introduces the character of Jeff Baker - the inventor of the afore-mentioned electronic crystals that have had such an effect on the world. He's in his late seventies, with a thirty something wife and a late-teens son (a 'Viagra baby'). For political reasons, the EU decides to use him as the first subject of a rejuvenation process that restores him back to an apparent age of 21.

Then life gets messy. While son Tim is a typical mixed-up lad, trying to cope with growing up and falling in and out of love, father Jeff uses his fame and his money and his experience to cut a swathe through his son's society.

Of course, the new youth cannot last - dramatic neccessity demands that.

On balance, I liked this book. It's got some nicely drawn characters (but also some quite unbelievable ones, mostly the young female ones who come across as wish fulfilment). Hamilton's politics must make him the only Telegraph-reading Eurosceptic author in British SF, and though those politics do come across strongly, he isn't one-sided about them - so I can take it far more easily than some right wing US authors. And his obvious love of his home county of Rutland is rather charming.
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