Book Review: Salvation – Book 1 of the Salvation Sequence

Salvation is the first book in the Salvation Sequence, a brand new trilogy from Peter F. Hamilton. Instead of the physical copy, I got the Kindle version because of my recent transition into e-books.

My first exposure to Peter Hamilton’s work was Judas Unchained, which I got the chance to read several years back. Since then, I have read The Void Trilogy, Chronicle of Fallers, The Night’s Dawn trilogy, Manhattan In Reverse and Great North Road. But I digress.

This book consists of two story threads. The first story thread was set in the 23rd century where humans have pretty much colonised multiple worlds, asteroids, and moon with their portal technology that made spaceships redundant. The second thread was set in the 51st century, focusing on a group of children who were trained to be warriors in an upcoming war with an alien race. The story threads finally linked up and we got the chance to see who was the real enemy humans faced throughout the book.

With this book, you will get the same prosaic writing style expected from Hamilton, a style that I love. For some people, they may find it rather boring. There isn’t much bombastic words to tell a story, world building or character development, which in my view, made the reading a little easier. But that’s not to say that there were some words that I actually had to pull out the dictionary to understand what it meant.

And unlike the earlier books by Hamilton where I could get lost with the sheer amount of characters and subplots to follow, Salvation actually has fewer characters and subplots. It makes following them easier especially with the way the stories are laid out on the pages. The transition between different viewpoint is also well done in my view. In fact, the switching of perspectives was done on chapter basis with individual title summarising what you will read next, which makes it easier for me to recap what I’ve read before. It’s especially so for the 23rd century story thread. The 51st century on the other hand, because the stories are placed far apart from each other in terms of pages, you may have to go back to re-read again if your memory is poor. Good thing about e-books is, you can jump around rather easily.

Now I honestly couldn’t remember the structure of his more recent books. So if this well-structured manner of presenting is also present in Chronicle of Fallers books, then I apologise for not being able to make a better comparison. It’s been a year plus since I read A Night Without Stars.

I also noticed that with this book, the amount of sex scene is minimal and are mostly set in the 51st century because those characters are younger. I remember vividly the amount of sex found in The Night’s Dawn trilogy. In Salvation, the relationships can be said to be believable with the usual ups and downs but it’s obvious they aren’t exactly intimate with each other, especially for the 23rd century story thread. I suspect it’s because the characters are much older and seen a lot of shit in their respective lives that made sex not a priority. This contrast is definitely welcomed.

With Salvation, you will also get the noir-detective story telling manner that I have come to enjoy with Hamilton’s books. In Salvation, the characters were investigating various things that was going on until the subplots merge and give you the conclusion. It reminded me of the Commonwealth Saga where Paula Mayo tried to investigate multiple crimes that culminated in her acknowledging the existence of Starflyer and participated in the war against the alien as well as arresting criminals for what they did. I’m also reminded of the book Great North Road where the police had to investigate the murder of a clone of a wealthy North family that also concluded an alien was involved.

I will give this book 5 out of 5 stars because I really enjoy it and it didn’t disappoint me at all.

Now, I just can’t wait for the next book, Salvation Lost, to be released next year.

10 Tech News Roundup #9

Here are 10 tech news that I found interesting.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 breaches privacy law, says Dutch DPA – The Dutch data protection authority has concluded that Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system breaches local privacy law on account of its collection of telemetry metadata. The OS has been available since the end of July 2015. Techcrunch

Amazon finally makes a waterproof Kindle, after 10 years of Kindles – Amazon has been selling Kindles for 10 years now, but “waterproof” hasn’t appear on its list of incremental technological advancements until now. The company just announced a new version of its popular e-reader that builds on last year’s Kindle design and now has an IPX8 waterproof rating. The Verge

Hyatt breach exposed customer payment data at 41 hotels – Hyatt announced today that its payment systems were breached, exposing credit card data from 41 hotels in 11 countries. The hack was discovered in July and the investigation only just recently concluded. Techcrunch

AWS and Microsoft double down on deep learning with Gluon, a simplified ML model builder – AWS and Microsoft may be arch rivals when it comes to competing for business in cloud storage and services, but when it comes to breaking ground in newer areas where volumes of data make a difference to how well the services work and creating systems that are easier to use, collaboration is key. Today, the two companies announced a new deep learning interface called Gluon, designed for developers of all abilities (not just AI specialists) to build and run machine learning models for their apps and other services. Techcrunch

Fake Adobe Flash malware locks your Android phone’s data unless you pay up – Consider this yet another PSA on why you should never ever download Adobe Flash Player, or anything resembling it if you’re using an Android phone. Security researchers at ESET have discovered a new kind of ransomware infecting Android phones on a level nobody’s ever seen before. Called DoubleLocker, the exploit encrypts the data on the infected device and then changes its PIN number so victims are locked out of their device unless they pay the ransom demanded by hackers. Mashable

Intel Delivers 17-Qubit Quantum Chip to European Research Partner – On Tuesday (Oct. 10), Intel delivered a 17-qubit superconducting test chip to research partner QuTech, the quantum research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. The announcement marks a major milestone in the 10-year, $50-million collaborative relationship with TU Delft and TNO, the Dutch Organization for Applied Research, to accelerate advancements in quantum computing. HPCWire

Fujitsu Tapped to Build 37-Petaflops ABCI System for AIST – Fujitsu announced today it will build the long-planned AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) which is set to become the fastest supercomputer system in Japan and will begin operation in fiscal 2018 (starts in April). ABCI will use Intel’s Xeon Gold processors and Nvidia V100 GPUs and deliver 550 petaflops theoretical peak performance in half-precision floating point and 37 petaflops of double-precision peak floating point performance. The award is from Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). HPCWire

Qualcomm fires another shot at Apple with a new lawsuit in China – Qualcomm has filed a lawsuit against Apple in its continuing legal battle over patents, this time looking to block the manufacturing and sale of iPhones in China, according to a report by Bloomberg this morning. Techcrunch

WD shows off market-ready MAMR tech for monster hard drives – Western Digital showed off a a prototype hard drive with a potentially revolutionary new energy-assisted magnetic recording technology called microwave-assist magnetic recording (MAMR). The company says the new tech could potentially be ready for market by the end of 2019, and it could allow the manufacture of 40 TB hard drives by 2025. For context, WD is now currently offering 14 TB drives to datacenter customers and 12 TB drives are just entering the general market. The company performed the reveal at its “Innovating to Fuel the Next Decade of Big Data” event at its headquarters in Silicon Valley yesterday. Techreport

Chaos and hackers stalk investors on cryptocurrency exchanges – LONDON, SHANGHAI, NEW YORK: Dan Wasyluk discovered the hard way that trading cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin happens in an online Wild West where sheriffs are largely absent. Channel Newsasia