Only rarely does one come across a novel with such simultaneous scope and imagination to realize the true potential of a science fiction universe. Hamilton has done just that in the Void Trilogy. Since beginning this series I have come to understand that it is a continuation of another series, the commonwealth saga. Having begun the Void Trilogy unaware, I can safely say that one can start at either point and still understand. This trilogy follows many characters that are, at first, almost entirely separate from one another so there will be initial confusion due to the style but it abates partway through the first book.
The Void Trilogy strikes me as an incredible compendium of transhumanist possibilities. Hamilton imagines so many different ways for people to transcend their natural station. There are the usual trademarks; bodies populated by nanomachines that lend near magic abilities for strength, utility, medical assistance, etc.; bodies that have been guided by artificial genetic evolution to exemplify the human ideal; minds spliced with computers. But Hamilton has taken some of these to fascinating extremes while coming up with very original ideas in other ways (which is to say, I haven't encountered them anywhere else yet).
The people who have chosen to invest their minds in computers have varying stages of integration from linking up with a vast internet within their own bodies to shedding their physical form and living in a virtual reality with others of their kind where their intellect is vastly inflated by some immense quantum supercomputer that is described as existing in a field around a planet (if I was paying attention). And Hamilton even throws in other species that have completely transcended physical existence altogether for good measure. My personal favorite imagining of his is that of the "multiples", which are many bodies invested with the same personality! While cloning and mind-swapping are scifi hallmarks I have never seen someone put them together in quite this manner before. It certainly had some interesting social implications.
All that alone would make this book well worth the read/listen but Hamilton's true genius is in his ability to take all of those disparate evolutionary pathways and fit them into a single, cohesive universe. I wouldn't have thought it possible that such a wide range of human archetypes with their wildly differing abilities and natures could coexist but Hamilton really does fit them together in a way that feels genuinely believable. It is a truly remarkable achievement.
In fact, Hamilton does such a wonderful job of setting up this diversity of transhumanist factions that I found myself wondering at all the paths he noticeably left out. There is an almost shocking lack of wholly artificial bodies. There are also no people living in non-human bodies, which one would expect to be an inevitable faction with the sort of biomedical technology available. And that is what this book does, it makes you wonder about the future of technology and the impact it will have on people's lives both practically and philosophically the way all great scifi does.
Among the dazzling breadth of ideas and inspiration floating around in this intellectual playground there is also an epic tale unraveling within the even more epic universe. There are something like 8 different characters that the reader will follow. Each of these have their own story and their own environment. At the start, there seems very little tying them together but as events unfold it becomes more and more clear that they are all entangled in the same web of conspiracy and politics that will ultimately determine the fate of the universe. In fact, Hamilton's universe is so vast that it actually has another universe inside it that is consuming the larger universe... Yeah, it gets pretty nuts but in a good way ;)
All of that said, I haven't even given away any real spoilers. This is an epic in the truest sense. The characters are unique and heavily developed. The story is gripping, mysterious, and masterfully woven together. The backdrop is the likes of which I've never seen before. If you haven't picked this one up, I can't recommend it enough. Enjoy! :D
Oh, and the narrator does not get in the way except when he simulates yelling while trying not to actually yell. In those instances the character voices become very warped, especially the female voices. He distinguishes well enough under normal conditions though and his voice is easy to listen to.
This is my introduction to Mr. Hamilton, and I couldn't be happier with the book and his writing. He accomplishes a fine balance between exposition and pace, exposing the information needed to understand the world of the story but not getting lost in endless detail. You won't understand everything within the world the first time it is discussed, but don't worry, your understanding will build each time it is discussed. Just let yourself become part of the story, and you'll understand everything in time.
The narrator has an excellent voice and does accents very well, but doesn't have a broad range of voices to differentiate characters. Since Mr. Hamilton doesn't waste time with "he said," "she said," after every comment, many times I found myself unsure who was speaking. A wider range of voices would have helped.
I highly recommend The Dreaming Void, and I am now downloading book 2.
I like how it's two books in one and figuring out how the fantasy story relates to the "outside" SciFi story.
The characters are interesting and likable. Enough good and bad things happen to them that they are believable and engaging.
The author must be from Britain and it's amusing to see the number of (probably unintentional) quaint references when these characters in the far future do something that's common there but not elsewhere. Their many cups of tea being only the most obvious.
The variations on "one body, one consciousness" are very clever and really make the reader think. Well done!
I only review my more favorites here.
It gets better with each audible chapter. It helped to go online to see a list of all the characters to get them straight but wow - Aarons drive, Corrie-Lyn's attitude, Oscar and Paula’s meeting, Araminta is importantly cool and wild. I am sold on this author and this story arc. Can’t wait for more and to understand more about Edeard. As good as any Al Reynolds book - and that is a compliment from me.
Improve decriptions of the world/universe.
Not rely on quick laugh but develop character better
Ronda Del Boccio, Award Winning Author
The audio performance was fine. I thought this would be a good book, but I just could not bring myself to finish it.
No it hasn't.
I would try another book, since Peter F. Hamilton seems to be one of the few names in science fiction that doesn't do military scifi and does actual science fiction. Overall this wasn't his greatest series.
The science didn't seem very believable or fun, which is what I look for in science fiction. Red shirts was fun, so was star wars.
Isaac Asimoves and philip K. dicks books are more believable in their use of science and more character involved. He could have made the science aspects more down to earth and this is a comment on his series as a whole, have characters have more central story. reading his books is like reading clips out of a newspaper from different and not completely related stories.
The redeeming feature in this book is the one character whose life we followed for most of the story. His side of the book was the only captivating part of the story in the alternate universe. His story followed a more traditional path of the hero's journey.
I have a long daily commute, and I listen to a lot of audio books. I got tired of re-listening to Stephen King books, and have been trying to expand my list of authors. Not generally much for the scifi genre, but this combination of story and narrator hit it just right for me. I just downloaded the third book in this series, and will be disappointed when it's over.
Just finished listening to the Dreaming Void, and all I can say is wow. I loved it. This is my second "space opera" listen, with Saga of the Seven Suns the first, and The Dreaming Void is heads and tales better. If this is what the future holds for the Human race, can I be frozen to the middle of the 3rd millennia.
Although I loved this book, I have a few words of warning to my fellow listener.
1. It starts out slow, and is sort of difficult to follow at first, but towards the end things become much clearer.
2. There is a lot of fictional history that is referenced in the book, and not much was explained (as of the end of the 1st book)
3. The narrator isn't the best in the world, and there are pauses that seem out of place, but he doesn't take anything away from the book.
4. As others have pointed out, yes there is sex and swearing in the book, but it is far from vulgar or obscene, and neither is overused. I would go as far as saying it adds a unique touch to the book. But if the words "c--k", and "f--k" bother you, or you are going to listen with a younger child, I would look elsewhere.
These things do not distract from the book at all. If your on the fence, take a trip to the future with The Dreaming Void, you will not be disappointed.
In an almost Dr. Who style, Hamilton extends the evolution of human kind to the point where they are no longer human. The book is excellent in its imagination, scope and technological expanse. In his style he develops in several plot lines and brings them together in a beautifully knotted world. His eventual references to the Common Wealth series is tasteful, and is a well done way to show the change in scope of the two series. The narrator is a pleasant voice and does an excellent job of conveying the story. The abrupt ending of the book, as well, smacks of a Dr. Who plot line, leaving the reader/listener with mental blue-balls.. but that is just a testament to how enticing the story is!