Book Review: The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton

The Dreaming Void (Void, #1)The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I stopped myself short of classifying this as another great Peter F. Hamilton book just because its only the first part of a three part story. But it is very good. For those who have read Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained, Dreaming Void, the first book of the Void Trilogy, takes place a millennium after the conclusion of the two “Commonwealth” books. The universe is recognizable but also very unfamiliar. Some characters from the previous two books reappear but obviously over a thousand years, have changed. The post singularity society has evolved into a post physical one for most long lived humans including some of the characters highlighted in Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained.

The threat of The Prime is replaced by a looming Void presumed by some evangelists as mankind’s paradise by others it means the end of the galaxy. The religious undertones was one of the two things I didn’t like in the book. The other was the inclusion of some more fantastical elements that weren’t in the first. My favorite thing about the two Commonwealth books were their inclination towards hard science. With the addition of some new evolutionary elements in Dreaming Void like telepathic abilities and shared dreams as well as more advanced body alterations it seems Hamilton is trying to convey the passage of time between the original Commonwealth books and this series. It is commonly said that modern technology would seem like magic to a less advanced culture or species therefore the future technology and evolutionary steps forward in Dreaming Void’s culture can come off more like magic to a reader of our time.

Despite my objections to the religiosity and the jarring fantastical elements, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. The best news is that there is more to come. Two more books comprise the complete story, Temporal Void and The Evolutionary Void, both of which I’ve already got in my collection and can’t wait to read.

Like many of the books I consume theses days I listened to Dreaming Void on Audible. Narrated like all Hamilton books on Audible, by the great John Lee. Mr. Lee brings the universe and characters alive with his varying voices, rhythms, and tones. He is nearly unmatched in his story telling.

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Book Review: Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton

Judas Unchained (Commonwealth Saga, #2)Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Judas Unchained is the perfect conclusion to the confrontation set forth by Pandora’s Star between the human race, the Prime, and the Starflyer.

If you liked Pandora’s Star you will love Judas Unchained. If you didn’t, you still might love Judas Unchained. Many parts of the story reminded me of other great sci fi stories. The Prime acted much like the Borg from Star Trek. The search for Starflyer agents reminded me of the Cylon mysteries of Battlestar Galactica. Similarities do occur but the originality of this story by Peter F. Hamilton far surpasses any established cliches or trends.

Like many other books that establish a far reaching universe along with many diverse characters, maintaining the connections between those characters and their relation to the universe is sometimes a challenge for the reader. It was for me in Pandora’s Star, especially at the beginning, but once I got into Judas Unchained I knew enough backround on each of the characters and on the overall universe that keeping up wasn’t hard at all. In fact knowing the backround made Judas Unchained that much more enjoyable when changes started to occur so I would not recommend skipping Pandora’s Star.

Finding such a hard science fiction space epic like this, for me, has been difiicult since many include some fantasy elements. I am looking forward to the reading Hamilton’s Void trilogy which takes place in the same universe thousands of years later.

Like Pandora’s Star I “read” or listened to the Audible version of Judas Unchained narrated by the great John Lee. He also narrates the Void trilogy which makes me even more excited to get to them. Lee is quickly becoming my favorite narrator and after finishing all the Hamilton books that he’s performed as well as the Alastair Reynolds books he’s done I may pick up authors I normally wouldn’t because of John Lee.

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Book Review – Pandora’s Star

Pandora's Star (Commonwealth Saga, #1)Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had recently become very annoyed by the fact that a lot of science fiction I was reading had a lot of fantasy elements in them. Series like the Saga of the Seven Suns by Kevin Anderson had the right setting but the characters and their magical abilities turned me off. To put it in main stream sci-fi terms, I was looking for Star Trek not Star Wars. I was looking for a more realistic telling of a human space future not a story that took place in a galaxy far far away.

Hamilton delivered nearly 100% for me with Pandora’s Star, almost to a fault. The book has a very, very slow beginning as Hamilton introduces you to his characters and the vast universe they live in. The mixture of science and politics is what eventually got me hooked.

The post singularity/rejuvenation setting was at first a little jarring. While many futurists see a time where we are able to store our memories and personality as data and move from physical shell to physical shell, I’ve never considered it to be hard science. But it is so very much at the center of the Hamilton’s story that it is hard to not come around to the idea. Eventually it became more reality to me, rather than fantasy.

Hamilton also does a masterful job of mixing in the mundane with the grander story. While scientists and politicians are dealing with the Dyson Pair there is what seems a inconsequential investigation 130 years in the making as well as a personal journey by one of the universes major pioneers. Progressing through the book you do not realize that these stories have just as much impact as the ones that are directly involved with the main plot. It wasn’t until the last few chapters that I realized how all the stories were coming together.

I listened to the Audible version of the book which is narrated by the great John Lee. I had first listened to him narrate the fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, ‘A Feast for Crows’. The only objection I had to him then was that he wasn’t Roy Dotrice, who had read the first three books in the series. He also narrated Ken Follet’s ‘Pillars of the Earth’ and ‘World Without End’ which is when I became a huge fan of his. He also performs ‘Judas Unchained’ and the Void Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton, the former being a direct sequel to ‘Pandor’s Star’, the latter being a continuation of the same universe. Because of John Lee I’m already sold on listening to the Audible version of the four books.

I would strongly recommend this book to any science fiction fan, especially those who may favor Star Trek over Star Wars. Hamilton has created a true space epic that, for lack of a better phrase, is still down to earth.

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