The year is 3326. Nigel Sheldon, one of the founders of the Commonwealth, receives a visit from the Raiel - self-appointed guardians of the Void, the enigmatic construct at the core of the galaxy that threatens the existence of all that lives. The Raiel convince Nigel to participate in a desperate scheme to infiltrate the Void. Once inside, Nigel discovers that humans are not the only life-forms to have been sucked into the Void. The humans trapped there are afflicted by an alien species of biological mimics - the Fallers - that are intelligent but merciless killers. Yet these same aliens may hold the key to destroying the threat of the Void forever - if Nigel can uncover their secrets.
©2014 Peter F. Hamilton (P)2014 Tantor
Sci-fi, History, Police Procedurals and Science
John Lee is the best narrator ever and the Hamilton Commonwealth/Void series is one of the best Meta-Space Operas ever Nice combination. If you have followed our various storylines in and out of the Void you will have to read this. If not, you will not get it. But can I make a suggestion? Go back and start with "Pandora's Star"....I envy you the journey.
Pandora's Star (2004), ISBN 0-330-49331-0
Judas Unchained (2005), ISBN 0-330-49353-1
The Dreaming Void (2007), ISBN 978-1-4050-8880-0
The Temporal Void (2008), ISBN 978-1-4050-8883-1
The Evolutionary Void (2010), ISBN 978-0-345-49657-7
The Abyss Beyond Dreams (2014) (This one)
The Night Without Stars (TBA)
On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through
I assume you won't listen to this until you have listened to the previous 100+ hours of books in the Commonwealth Universe. That is, I assume you wouldn't even be reading this review unless you were already a fan of Hamilton. If you are, I have good news! This book is great, and shows real evolution in Hamilton's writing.
If that worries you, it shouldn’t: there is a lot of typical Hamilton here: we return again to the Commonwealth Universe, old characters re-appear, the book title is again bad, the worldbuilding is incredible, and the plotting is propulsive. And the man can write action scenes!
But some things have changed, nearly all for the better. For example, the two dozen character perspectives that Hamilton typically uses are reduced to just a few, allowing the reader to better settle into the characters and the story. This is combined with a slightly shorter overall book (closer to 20 hours than the usual 30+) which makes the plot feel tighter and more focused without losing the worldbuilding and detail that Hamilton is famous for. Also, the way Hamilton has traditionally built up the central mysteries in his books is by having characters with secrets in their backgrounds that are only revealed gradually as the book goes on. Here, he greatly reduces his use of that crutch, making the twists and turns in the plot involve less unexpected slight-of-hand, which helped me engage with the plot.
Finally, Hamilton does some very clever things with the plot of the book, building up expectations based on the previous Void Trilogy that are subverted in interesting ways. The end result is that this feels like the best written Hamilton book to date, while keeping all of the usual cool elements - hard(ish) science fiction worldbuilding, universe-scale action, and tight plotting – that have made his books so great. And Lee, as usual, is awesome.
Honestly, if you have spent 100+ hours with Lee and Hamilton, you probably are going to get this. Just be ready to find excuses to listen to your audio book, because it is excellent…
I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.
Like Hamilton’s earlier Void trilogy, this story is largely set in the pocket universe of The Void, where electronics and other post-19th century technology fails, and society has developed around ubiquitous psychic ability. Hamilton avoids continuity problems by devising an independent planet, Bienvenido, within the same Void as the earlier stories on which to stage the action. Here, all the same physical Void laws remain the same, but have slightly different nomenclature. Likewise, a similar social structure has arisen in Bienvenido to that of the earlier novels’ Querencia; a corrupt aristocracy with limited democratic dressing. Astonishingly, he also carries over the same archetype for his main protagonist; an idealist young lawman who enters the lion’s den city as an outsider intent on reform. The main situational difference between Querencia and Bienvenido is the ongoing threat of ‘Fallers’, alien pod-people who murder and assume the shape of their victims. Some sentimental wish fulfillment is introduced when a super-capable Nigel Sheldon appears on the scene from the outside universe. His Commonwealth technology is largely functional in the Void due to some effective planning, and he proceeds to manipulate people and events in order to stop these Fallers and break everyone free from the Void.
While it’s enjoyable to watch Nigel outsmart every other character in the book, it kind of reduces the drama to see him so wildly under-matched. The pacing often felt rushed as well, with several years of machinations compressed down to a few pages in order to hasten events. I think the story works best when it leans into the SF genre and away from the Fantasy one: The Commonwealth scenes are just more entertaining to me than the horseback ones. One notable exception can be found in the most interesting moment of the whole story, the discovery in the Desert of Bones. Here there is depth and wonder worthy of the Space Opera genre.
My biggest surprise with this story is how proximate it is to the Void trilogy. While it is technically set in between the Starflyer and Void episodes of Hamilton’s Commonwealth stories, it isn’t the narrative bridge I had expected. The readers who will enjoy this story most are those who preferred the Void stories, appreciating a good dose of Fantasy with their SF.
Say something about yourself!
The Abyss is the start of a third series all set in Hamilton's incredibly dense and imaginative Common Wealth, a futuristic society of humans set after humans have mastered worm hole travel and the ability to live indefinitely.
If you haven't read Pandora's Star + Judas Unchained and The Void trilogy, the Abyss isn't the place to jump in. The events of the The Abyss take place before and during the events of The Void, but from the perspective of the playboy capitalist, Nigel Sheldon, and a few new comers. The starts with Paula Mayo, the closest thing to a main character to the expansive cast as she's tasked with finding Sheldon on behalf of the Raiel to enter the Void. We're re-introduced to a few old faces but mostly a new faces.
The events take place within the Common Wealth, and the world of the Void, and a new threat, The Fallers.
The strength lies in the story's meta-fantasy and Hamilton's ability to world build a universe where the humans still feel human despite thousands of years of technology. I've yet to find a series that I can compare to Hamilton's Commonwealth. It's hyper sexed, crass, occasionally violent, dense, sometimes confusing with the amount of detail but ultimately the best series I can name I've read with some truly memorable characters
I'm just a big kid.
This novel follows Hamilton's 'Void Trilogy'.
tl;dr : Not perfect, but if you liked the void Trilogy you pretty much have to listen to this book also.
The first part of this novel is excellent. We're in the Commonwealth, some of our old friends are here. The narration by John Lee is perfect.
What with Commonwealth people living pretty much infinitely long lifespans a lot of people are pretty bored, and so volunteer to boldly go where no one has gone before on huge colony ships. Destination: a new, less boring life.
So far so good. Super Detective Paula is still chasing bad guys. Nigel is still smarter than everyone else (except maybe Ozzie).
Nigel learns that The Void is even more of a threat or menace than we thought. Something Must Be Done.
The Plan is put into action...
Now we've left the Commonwealth to enter The Void to find another world, very similar to the Void world Makkathran of the earlier Void novels. Makkathran, as Hamilton readers will recall, is basically a magic powered Renaissance Faire world.
This newly discovered Renaissance Faire world is threaten by a new bunch of Bad Guys called 'Fallers'.
In this novel a junior soldier I'll call 'Edeard2' in this new Renaissance Faire world plus magic, starts to challenge the corruption and decay that have poisoned this new Renaissance Faire world.
Edeard2 is determined that his fellow citizens should know hope again by defeating 'The Fallers', overthrowing the rich plutocrats, and instituting a Marxist dictatorship.
The introduction of Edeard2 in his pre-revolution job as a soldier is actually fairly interesting.
But not for that long.
Sigh. We have to go a few hours as Edeard2 plots against the corrupt 'Captain' to give hope to his world and defeat the fallers. It's really very tedious to anyone who who read the void trilogy.
Just when I was about to give up on this novel and ask for a refund someone from the Commonwealth shows up on Renaissance Faire2 and starts to introduce Science Fiction in the fairly boring internal politics of the Renaissance Faire2 world.
From that point forward the book starts to be fun and interesting again. The ending had a surprise.
And of course, a cliff hanger.
I really didn't care for the original Edeard, this Edeard2 character in this novel or the whole concept of the Renaissance Faire worlds. I still liked this novel.
If you liked Edeard and his world then you will for sure like The Abyss Beyond Dreams.
Peter Hamilton's latest, The Abyss beyond dreams, initiates another Void adventure that appears to be occurring concurrently with the previous Void trilogy. The action takes place in another part of the Void and involves Nigel attempting to reach the 1st Void world, but ending up on another. This story concerns a prior human colony ship that ended up in the Void. Quantum states are completely screwed and 3000 years have passed resulting into a semi-stable societal organization. Another trapped alien life form plays havoc with the humans. In typical Hamilton fashion, we experience the story through multiple perspectives that only later intersect. Nigel gradually pieces all the various bits together, while inciting revolution along the way.
The sci-fi elements are pure Hamiltonian with Void style space time distortion along with enhanced psychic abilities. There are also novel alien creatures with unusual powers which also provides additional background to the Void in general. While Nigel is eventually able to rescue the colonists from the Void, the tale ends with a setup for further adventures for the rest of the trilogy.
John Lee is nothing short of spectacular in his narration. His mood, pace, and tone are expertly delivered for a truly satisfying and entertaining rendition.
I am a big Hamilton fan, especially the Commonwealth universe. So I could not have been more excited when this book came out. Overall this book did not let me down, however there are some things that could have made it better.
As with other Hamilton books, the reader is shifted to a different time with little context. If you are not paying close attention it can be rather confusing. This book takes that to the next level. As a event unfolds, readers are often thrown back to the events that lead up to that point in time, and the history of the characters involved. While it is fun to hear the history of how things happened, I think it could have been done with a slightly lighter touch.
Other then that you get more of everything from other other 5 Commonwealth books on Aubible - a fantastic narrator, good story, interesting characters, well written strong female characters (something lacking in other authors), and lots of hard sci-fi while within the Void - which is not a small feat.
For anyone who is a fan of the Commonwealth universe, this book will not let you down. If you have no idea what the Commonwealth is, you have 5 books to listen to before this one - start with Pandora's Star.
Minority opinion: slow and plodding, Some great moments but too few of them. das kapital meets battlestar galactica, with some clever turns. First book i have read in the series.
I love Hamilton's Commonwealth Series. In fact, The Void trilogy are among my favorite books of all time. The problem with this book is that one of his intertwined story lines is far more interesting than the other. I loved the Nigel Sheldon story and was bored during the other story line. Hopefully, book two will rectify this. I want more Paula Mayo.
Wanted to find out what happen to Nigel Sheldon. He was my favorite character in the Common Wealth series.
The last four hours of the book I was on the edge on finding out what happens at the end. The culmination of the characters of NIgel, Slvasta, and of course the Void resolution of the problem.
He narrated this story perfectly
Not one of his best books but I really enjoy the politics and the explanation of the technologies used in the 34th century.
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