Saturday 4 June 2016

Book Review - The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton

My experience of this author so far has been the Nights Dawn Trilogy (and a couple of random reads) which I loved, although the ending felt a little flat for me. After attending a book signing I've meant to read more of his work, although I should probably have researched a little more as this trilogy seems to be later in the history. It didn't turn out to be too much of an issue, although I'm sure that I'd have gleaned more from some of the references.

This is a story in grand space opera style. The scope is huge, and the core concept of the void at the centre of the galaxy is a fascinating one with plenty of mystery to get my teeth into. The story is told in two main threads, the first are the dreams of Inigo (the object of the hunt of the second thread) who somehow sees a human existence within the void. This element feels more like fantasy, although with strong parallels to various technologies in the 'real' universe.

It formed an interesting aside, but for me is the weaker element of the book. It's also the one that is perhaps easier to follow, with a more traditional narrative structure than the rest. Don't get me wrong, it's far from bad, but just didn't grab me as much as the more sci-fi elements.

The second thread is the space opera, and it covers a lot of ground. Unlike Inigo's dreams the story is more fragmented and spread through quite a diverse range of characters. And here is the story's weakest point - there's a lot going on, but it's spread across so many threads that the overall pace feels much slower than it is. I find this quite a lot with space opera (and high fantasy) books, but conversely there is always something of interest to keep me reading.

It took me a little while to get to grips with the world. I'm not usually a fan of technobabble to establish esoteric technology, but as I read further I slipped into the world more and it ended up working and carrying some of the more far out concepts. And it's with these ideas where the book really excels. I love reading a book and having to pause and contemplate the potential of a passage I've just read is one of the joys of reading.

An example of this is demonstrated in a sexual adventure with one of the characters and another who is a multiple - that is a single conciousness present in multiple bodies. Although this also revealed another frustration, but that's more a personal bias. I love to know the detail - for example how does the biochemistry of the individual bodies affect the overiding conciousness? If it doesn't, then how has a complete separation from brain and mind been achieved? I always want to know more than is usually revealed :-)

The writing is excellent, despite my initial reservations about the terminology. And there's a huge story here to be uncovered, with hints of many mysteries to be resolved with the next two books - I'm looking forward to reading them!

The year is 3589, fifteen hundred years after Commonwealth forces barely staved off human extinction in a war against the alien Prime. Now an even greater danger has surfaced: a threat to the existence of the universe itself.

At the very heart of the galaxy is the Void, a self-contained microuniverse that cannot be breached, cannot be destroyed, and cannot be stopped as it steadily expands in all directions, consuming everything in its path: planets, stars, civilizations. The Void has existed for untold millions of years. Even the oldest and most technologically advanced of the galaxy’s sentient races, the Raiel, do not know its origin, its makers, or its purpose.

But then Inigo, an astrophysicist studying the Void, begins dreaming of human beings who live within it. Inigo’s dreams reveal a world in which thoughts become actions and dreams become reality. Inside the Void, Inigo sees paradise. Thanks to the gaiafield, a neural entanglement wired into most humans, Inigo’s dreams are shared by hundreds of millions–and a religion, the Living Dream, is born, with Inigo as its prophet. But then he vanishes.

Suddenly there is a new wave of dreams. Dreams broadcast by an unknown Second Dreamer serve as the inspiration for a massive Pilgrimage into the Void. But there is a chance that by attempting to enter the Void, the pilgrims will trigger a catastrophic expansion, an accelerated devourment phase that will swallow up thousands of worlds.

And thus begins a desperate race to find Inigo and the mysterious Second Dreamer. Some seek to prevent the Pilgrimage; others to speed its progress–while within the Void, a supreme entity has turned its gaze, for the first time, outward. . . .

Click here to buy The Dreaming Void from Amazon

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