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review 2020-04-28 00:00
The Temporal Void
The Temporal Void - Peter F. Hamilton
This long complex novel is the follow up to The Dreaming Void, another long complex novel which I reviewed a few months ago. It took me several chapters to get back into the story and start remembering the characters. Readers might be advised to revisit book one before tackling book two if they have the time.

This is a space opera on a big scale. Humans and other aliens occupy most of the galaxy. Technology is highly developed and most people have their memories downloaded somewhere so that if the body gets killed they can re-life with a new one. Some worlds are more advanced than others. Some people, usually government special agents, have biononic technology in their bodies so they can access data systems, use force fields, and so on. There are various factions in human civilization. Some want to go ahead and do away with old fashioned bodies right away and become Artificial Intelligences. Others like bodies and think this will ultimately happen but we should progress towards it slowly.

There is a big area at the centre of the galaxy called the Void. It is virtually impenetrable but long ago some human colony ships got into it somehow and crashed on a world called Querencia. They couldn't get off again because quantum physics is different inside the Void. Time flows at a different rate than in the Galaxy outside and warp drive doesn't work, but psychic powers do. In the capital city Makkathran a hick country boy called Edeard, now known as the Waterwalker, is rising up the ranks of the police and eliminating crime in the city by virtue of his powerful telepathic and telekinetic abilities.

Some time ago a man called Inigo dreamt of Edeard’s life in the Void and founded Living Dream, a religion. When people die in the Void their souls fly to the Heart at its centre and seem to live happily ever after. This doesn’t happen outside the Void. Living Dream is launching a pilgrimage to take millions of followers into the Void where this version of heaven is achievable. To do this they will need permission from the Skylords, vast intelligences who fly about in space. Once every few generations a Dreamer is born who can communicate with the Skylords. Inigo was the First Dreamer and a young lady called Araminta is the Second Dreamer, which she discovered at the end of volume one, much to her surprise. She doesn't want to be the Second Dreamer. She wants to marry and have kids and lead a nice quiet life.

When people enter Void it tends to expand and swallow big chunks of the galaxy. Obviously this is a bad thing for those atheists who want to keep living in our Galaxy. The Ocisen Empire is determined to stop the pilgrimage and has launched an invasion fleet at Earth. But some factions in the Commonwealth support the pilgrimage, for their own ends, and are secretly supplying Living Dream with technology to enable it.


It takes five hundred words just to describe the situation at the start of the novel but that doesn’t mean Hamilton has written a dry, scientific text. Justine Burnelli works for ANA Governance, the AI‘s who run Earth and its allied worlds. She penetrates the Void successfully in her one-woman super ship and is able to communicate with people outside. Her story is full of emotion. The struggles of Edeard and his friends to bring law and order to Makkathran take up more than half of the book and are very exciting. Edeard’s tale still reminds me of a Heinlein juvenile, a sweet innocent lad with a superpower shaking the world up, but it’s a great story. One tiny flaw is the ending but as its possibility is inherent in the very nature of the Void, and given away in the title, I suppose it's inescapable.

The doings of the various factions out in the great Galaxy outside are also dramatic. ANA Governance had thought that repelling the Ocisen fleet would be fairly easy but those sneaky aliens have a few surprises in store. The fat genius scientist Troblum has gone into hiding after the Cat nearly killed him. Paula Myo, the top ANA investigator, is still hopping around the Galaxy trying to uncover the devilish schemes of the Advancer faction. Inigo, still alive, has been captured by another Faction agent and Araminta, the Second Dreamer, is on the run from the ruthless forces of Ethan, the Cleric Conservator of Living Dream. Confused? Well, this trilogy is a follow up to Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga and features a lot of the characters and worlds therein. I have not read it but I probably will, soon. The drawback is that the first volume of the Void trilogy was pretty hard going for new readers and frankly the second will be a complete mystery if you haven’t read the first.

However, doing so is worth the effort because it’s a great, sprawling ripping yarn reminiscent of Golden Age science fiction. The super-powerful ships blasting planets and each other with coruscating energy fields hark back to E.E. (Doc) Smith and the characters hark back to Heinlein. The prose is not fancy. Hamilton does not bother with similes or metaphors and if you like searching for Freudian subtexts you will probably have to search elsewhere. If you like a great story, this is it.



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text 2019-06-04 09:14
Reading progress update: I've read 52 out of 1156 pages.
Pandora's Star (Commonwealth Saga #1) - Peter F. Hamilton

So, as I have a week off work doing nothing (lovely) I've finally decided to tackle this beast of a book. I've been desperate for some epic sci-fi for a while and I'm hoping this will scratch the itch. Liking it so far. I need to read about 200 pages a day so that I can finish it before hubby is on holiday too at the end of the week and we actually start doing things. The trouble is, if I really like it there are more monsters where this came from.

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review 2019-02-04 02:11
"Death will die"
The Reality Dysfunction - Peter F. Hamilton

A vast, all-you-can-eat, SF buffet. Probably off-puttingly long for those trying to cram in 250 books in a year and whether or not the story actually needs an entire chapter on the evolution of the Ly-cilph is open for debate but for those of us happy to sud ourselves in a highly readable SF saga this is a deep, warm, bath. ‘Reality’ certainly is a shelf-breaker but Hamilton can write and he can keep the pages turning too. And how.

 

This is arguably the SF version of ‘The Stand’ with the crazy page count, the multiple characters and the dead acting as the insidious virus that takes down humanity. Hamilton has the human race doing…well, alright actually; spreading across the stars via sentient biotek ships, colonising multiple planets (the ‘Capitalists In Space’ angle doesn’t escape criticism), divvying up into two main augmented factions – Adamists and Edenists – with their fancy neural nanonics or affinity links and out-lawing any use of anti-matter after various catastrophes. Other than a deliciously mysterious ring of exploded space stations (the ‘Ruin Ring’) left behind by an extinct race and, um, an escaped maniac inside a tree who wants to live forever all seems to be going tickety-boo. So by the half-way point Hamilton is well placed to systematically take a blow-torch to the entire roadshow. The setting up of and then shocking, awe-inspiring, collapse of an entire space-faring civilisation put me in mind of Dan Simmons’ ‘Hyperion’. Hamilton has the writing chops for the small moments but you can sense him really seizing the SF canvas here and his glee is almost palpable.      

 

The Big Bad in ‘Reality’ is our old friends the recently deceased who make an inconvenient return appearance from the Void Beyond with lightning coming out of their fingers, the ability to shapeshift and crash any nearby tech. The key moment in the novel – the test for the hard-SF reader and the moment Hamilton outs himself as a mainstream populist – is when a set of fangs appears. There is also a Yeti. Oh and naked ladies try to entice you into their arms which regrettably only ever happens in fiction and rarely ends well. The dead’s weird ability to warp reality allows Hamilton to leverage supernatural and historical imagery – hence the books reputation for involving everything and the kitchen sink – but he also has fine fun doing military SF, laser-tastic space battles and has the nerve to actually depict the void beyond death and the armies of disembodied personalities clamouring to return to corporeality. It’s the sort of audaciousness literary critics have orgasms over when your name is Philip Pullman and you’re ripping off Milton and Blake. Here, Hamilton has gruff cosmonik Warlow quietly discussing Catholicism with a sentient space-station amid the rings of Murora before he sets off a nuke.

 

The encounter between the living and the dead of Hamilton’s Confederation Universe actually goes swimmingly well and everyone goes home happy. Only joking. Humanity gets its arse spectacularly kicked in orbit about Lalonde and only the heroics of blatant – but thoroughly enjoyable – ‘Gary Sue’ Joshua Calvert results in a statistically negligible win. ‘Reality’ is, of course, merely part 1 of a trilogy you puny humans and by the finale dangling threads abound. Whither Dr Alkad Mzu? Last seen nipping off in a voidhawk with thoughts of “the Alchemist” on her mind. What was with that structure the Tyrathca were building and their talk of “the Sleeping God”? Have we seen the last of Laton? Above all, how the hell is Hamilton going to land all this? I have absolutely no idea but I do know it’s a hell of a writer who can have you gagging for more after a thousand pages: “Whatever it was they came up against is something that one day we are also going to encounter.”

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review 2018-09-16 13:31
Space Opera Buffa: "Salvation" by Peter F. Hamilton
Salvation - Peter F. Hamilton


"Book One in the Salvation Sequence, a dazzling space opera trilogy from master of the genre, Peter F. Hamilton

Know your enemy - or be defeated.

AD 2204
An alien shipwreck is discovered on a planet at the very limits of human expansion - so Security Director Feriton Kayne selects a team to investigate. The ship's sinister cargo not only raises bewildering questions, but could also foreshadow humanity's extinction. It will be up to the team to bring back answers, and the consequences of this voyage will change everything.

Back on Earth, we can now make deserts bloom and extend lifespans indefinitely, so humanity seems invulnerable. We therefore welcomed the Olyix to Earth when they contacted us. They needed fuel for their pilgrimage across the galaxy - and in exchange they helped us advance our technology. But were the Olyix a blessing or a curse?

AD 50,000
Many lightyears from Earth, Dellian and his clan of genetically-engineered soldiers are raised with one goal. They must confront and destroy their ancient adversary. The enemy caused mankind to flee across the galaxy and they hunt us still. If they aren't stopped, we will be wiped out - and we're running out of time.

Salvation is the first title in a stunning science fiction trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton."


From the book blurb.


"Interstellar war is a fantasy. It makes no sense. Economically, for resources, for territory...it's all crap. Hong Kong doesn't even make drama games about it anymore."


In "Salvation" by Peter F. Hamilton

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-09-09 11:49
Over-the-Top SF: "The Naked God" by Peter F. Hamilton
The Naked God - Peter F. Hamilton



“I’m an appropriate companion personality for a girl your age, young missy. We spent all night ransacking that library to see what I should be like. You got any idea what it’s like watching eight million hours of Disney AVs?” 


In "The Naked God" by Peter F. Hamilton


Hamilton is giving Doc Smith a reboot. That’s what I thought of when I tried to read some of Hamilton back in the day and didn’t like it, namely "Night’s Dawn" trilogy.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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