Thursday, February 09, 2012

[Lisa’s Take] The Void Trilogy (Peter F. Hamilton)

I kick-started my book list for 2012 by shotgunning all three books in Peter F. Hamilton’s Void Trilogy: The Dreaming Void, The Temporal Void, and The Evolutionary Void. This netted me a whopping 1973 pages in a little over 3 weeks. I’m pretty sure the last time I consumed that many pages from a single series back-to-back-to-back was either when I first got my hands on George R. R. Martin at Christmas 2003, or maybe the Kusheline Trilogy in 2006. Either way, it’s been a damn long time since I was compelled to read so much so quickly.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of literature that can be classified as “massively multi-genre.” Tad Williams and China Mieville are high of my list of favorite authors due to their ability to produce works that break out of the typical genre stereotypes. When I picked up The Dreaming Void, I was expecting good old-fashioned hard sci-fi, softened up with a bit of decent character development – you know, pretty much what I had come to expect when I read Hamilton’s Pandora Star and Judas Unchained.

My expectations were met for about a hundred pages. I was enjoying the story and the characters, and I was tickled pink to see a lot of familiar faces from his previous duology. I was finding the technology a little less accessible that that of Pandora’s Star; the story is sufficiently far in the future that technology has progressed to the point of “sufficiently advanced as to seem like magic.”

Then all of the sudden I started a new chapter and the book went from hard sci-fi to medieval fantasy.

I was… baffled, to say the least, but I greedily enjoyed the change of pace, expecting it to be a one-off occurrence. It wasn’t. With increasing frequency you start to get glimpses into the fantasy-esque world inside the void, and see how that ties in with the sci-fi world outside. I loved the juxtaposition, and honestly felt myself more attached to most of the void characters than anyone outside. At the end of the second book I was literally choking and crying on the plane. I’ve never read a sci-fi classified book that moved me so much.

I can’t recommend these books enough for fans of either sci-fi or fantasy. If you’ve never dabbled in sci-fi as a genre this might be an ambitious start, but anyone who enjoys the genre (or wants to be convinced that the genre can be enjoyable) would be well served by picking up the Void Trilogy. My books for the rest of the year are going to be hard-pressed to live up to such an excellent start.

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