Where do you start when trying to describe Peter F. Hamilton’s science fiction?
His space operas are epic in scale, with many interlocking character stories, taking place across huge amounts of time and space, detailing lives lived with the benefits of high-technology and galaxy-destroying consequences for the protagonists.
The Void Trilogy is set over a thousand years on but within the same universe that hosted his previous ‘trilogy’; Misspent Youth, and the two books forming the Commonwealth Saga; Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained. Humanity has reached a pinnacle of technological development, death is no longer the final hurdle as humans can be reset into younger bodies, and some factions within humanity are looking to the next step; becoming post-physical, evolving, transcending.
The Void is the name bestowed upon what humans suspected was a huge black hole at the centre of the galaxy, but turns out to be an artificial universe, gradually expanding and devouring the human galaxy. The true nature of the Void soon reveals itself as a human, Inigo, claims to have dreamed of the naturally psychic civilisation living within the Void and shares those dreams via the gaiafield that allows humans to share experiences and feelings. The Dreamer becomes the centre of a galaxy-spanning Living Dream movement devoted to reaching and entering the Void and becoming one with the Void dwellers. But then it becomes known that the mass exodus may well trigger a rapid expansion of the Void that will devour the galaxy.
Within this story is also the story of a Void dweller, Edeard, told through Inigo’s dreams. Edeard’s own struggle to bring order and compassion to his world offer a compelling counterpoint to the story of humanity outside the Void.
In typical Hamilton fashion the story builds and builds, new story threads are uncovered, others are closed off or twisted back on themselves, old (from the previous Saga) and new characters cross paths, we find out some more of the background of the Commonwealth and more of the races that inhabit it. The background is incredibly detailed, and as with his other novels, you are thrust into the ultra high-tech world of the future from the very outset.
Weighing in at just over 2,000 pages (exceeding the previous trilogy of 1,800 pages) Hamilton has built an incredible story, a must for any fans of the newer strains of epic space opera we’ve been treated to in the last decades. Its not necessary to read the Commonwealth Saga beforehand although you’d be missing out on another epic tale and some of the richest background material.
I can’t wait to see what Peter F. Hamilton writes next 🙂