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the Second Chance was supposedly the first interstellar spaceship built, built to travel to the Dyson Pair. If so, how did the Commonwealth, a group of several hundred planets spread over hundreds of light years, come into existence in the first place?
I found it ok, at best. The 2nd book continues in exactly the same vein as the first, as if the entire story had been written as a 2000 page epic, and he just took a clever to it halfway through.
There are lots of other little issues with the technology, continuity and imagination. Probably would have made a good 900 page trilogy if you cut all the excesses away.
I really enjoyed the Commonwealth books. Yeah he writes massive tomes. However, I wouldn't call them bloated, especially when compared to the authors Void trilogy.
The basic strategy was to slog a wormholes terminus to its destination by slower than light ships (prior to FTL ships). I thought running railroad tracts through the wormhole was novel and perhaps unrealistic due to the unstable nature of a wormhole, but then again, Arthur C. Clarke was dead on target when he said 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' ;-)
I liked both Pandora's and Judas a lot, although I liked Judas better (the last 200 pages or so are really good.) He wrote both of them as one story, but his publisher made him chop it in half.
They didn't need any equipment at the other end of the wormhole -- that's how the wormhole guys got to Mars before the first manned mission, at the beginning of the book -- so they didn't need ships, slow or fast. They planet-hopped to get out further than the distance they could open a wormhole (must have been just a power problem, because they thought the Dyson aliens could build a wormhole back to the Commonwealth)
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