Tuesday, July 29, 2008

JD's Take: The Dreaming Void (Peter F. Hamilton)

The Dreaming Void takes place 1500 years after the events chronicled in Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained and begins a new trilogy set in the same world. Which, of course, means that I really should have written reviews for those books as well... but I didn't. Ah well. *looks* Actually, I did write a review of Pandora's Star! Haha! Victory for me!

Mr. Hamilton is very good and making deep, interesting, characters set in wildly fantastic science fiction settings, which makes me very, very happy. In this novel we see him extrapolate the technology advances (and corresponding technology shifts) from the first series by 15 centuries, which is an interesting intellectual exercise that he handles with a deft hand and a keen sense that the story and the characters are far more important than the exercise. The new characters introduced are fascinating and really drew me into the story. Ironically, the older characters that I already knew from the previous books seemed... awkward. It's very possible that this was intentional... their reasons for remaining in the corporeal world are varied, but they are by far the exception and so they stand apart from the society they've watched grow and change. I won't give away which characters return, but there are a couple of old favorites and a couple of surprises still kicking around the galaxy.

I didn't really get drawn into the story until about halfway through the book but, at the same time, I was never bored in the least. It just... took him a while to reach the narrative "tipping point", where the story and the characters that have the weight to roll along on their own inertia... each interaction giving more energy to the force of the narrative flow. Those who like their books to each stand alone will be disappointed... as the first book in a Hamiltonian trilogy there are so many loose ends at the conclusion of the book that it hardly even has a climax. There is plenty of cool shit going on, but no thread of the story reached an end. This is no surprise to anyone who has read any of Hamilton's other work... he writes epic scale sci fi and he does it beautifully. For me, I wasn't disapointed by the end... only eager for the next tome.

Overall, I'd call this a promising introduction to the new trilogy, and an exciting expansion of the wonderful world he created in the previous books. I'm inordinately pleased to be looking forward again to another Hamilton novel to appear on the shelves... I was pretty bummed when I finished Judas and realized that it might be a while before I saw more from my favorite comtemporary SciFi writer.


bloggeratf said...

Not sure if you have read the follow up to this, The Temporal Void, but I liked it much better than the first. Especially since I was finally familiar with all the plot lines and characters. The Dream sequences get much better -- there should be a stand alone book of just those.


JD said...

As a matter of fact, I finally pulled it off the shelf last week... I'm probably halfway through it. So far I'm absolutely loving it (shock! JD likes Peter F. Hamilton!), and I totally agree about the dream sequences. I'm tempted to make LisaBit read these two just because I'll be able to convince her there's a fantasy novel hidden inside. :)

My only real problem is that it's been a while since the first one, and Mr. Hamilton doesn't fuck around catching you up on plot lines, so I'm a little fuzzy in a couple places. Not so much that it's an issue though.