At the center of the galaxy is the Void, a strange, artificial universe created by aliens billions of years ago, shrouded by an event horizon more deadly than any natural black hole. In order to function, it is gradually consuming the mass of the galaxy. Watched over by its ancient enemies, the Raiel, the Void's expansion is barely contained.
Inigo dreams of the sweet life within the Void and shares his visions with billions of avid believers. When he mysteriously disappears, Inigo's followers decide to embark on a pilgrimage into the Void to live the life of their messiah's dreams - a pilgrimage that the Raiel claim will trigger a catastrophic expansion of the Void.
Aaron is a man whose only memory is his own name. He doesn't know who he used to be or what he is. All he does know is that his job is to find the missing messiah and stop the pilgrimage. He's not sure how to do that, but whoever he works for has provided some pretty formidable weaponry that ought to help.
Meanwhile, inside the Void, a youth called Edeard is coming to terms with his unusually strong telepathic powers. A junior constable in Makkathran, he starts to challenge the corruption and decay that have poisoned the city. He is determined that his fellow citizens should know hope again. What Edeard doesn't realize is just how far his message of hope is reaching.
Into the Void? Listen to more in the Void Trilogy.
©2007 Peter F. Hamilton; (P)2008 Tantor
"Broad in scope and panoramic in detail." (Library Journal)
"A real spellbinder from a master storyteller." (Kirkus)
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.
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've read nearly all of what Peter F. Hamilton has to say, and he has to say quite a lot evidently. I find myself enjoying this book like I enjoy his other books. I enjoy one or two particular point of views in his plot lines within his many point of views and pretty much ignore the rest. When his writing is on it is a near magical experience. Like when Ozzy, is walking through the ice forest in his early books. I can picture that scene down to every detail and feel the bite of frost clinging to my skin. He printed a near out of body experience onto tapestry. On the other hand I find that when his writing is off, it is so over detailed and long winded that it will drain you from going any further. I have to actually stop, regroup another day, and listen again.
In the end I would always read another one of his novels. There is too much good here to miss out on, but if this is the first novel you've seen I'd recommend starting from Pandora's Star. Amazingly after the first two novels there are still characters kicking around in the Dreaming Void from his earlier Commonwealth books. Two books doesn't sound like a long time but that's 80 hours of narration and some 1200 years!
No, you have to pay attention to what's going on or you will get lost. Luckily the story is so good that it's easy to pay attention.
I like the characters, world and stories. It is easy to get hooked by multiple stories and I can wait to get into the next book to see how it goes.
While I found the Dreaming Void to be a pleasant surprise from an author I hadn't read before, it's riddled by an odd multi-personality disorder. I'm not complaining about it having multiple points of view - I'm used to that. What's strange about the Dreaming Void is that there are effectively three different tones the story is written in.
There's the tone of the enigmatic agent Aaron, where the humanity's 'evolution' to a custom-built and omnipotent race is given its dark side, where life is treated as being worthless because death is meaningless. There's the weird domestic tale of Araminta (my least favorite), who is struggling through the steps of a mundane existence, having sex with about everyone she meets. (The author has a very libertine style, though I wouldn't say it compares to a romance novel, even in these sections) Then there's the dream-story of Ediard, which takes place in an entirely different setting, and would be most easily compared to a young adult fantasy novel, where a young man struggles to find his place in a vaguely medieval world.
If you think all three of these things sound interesting, or even 2 out of 3, it's probably worth listening to the book. The performer is very talented and versatile, though I might have preferred if they had brought on a woman as well for the many female parts, and occasionally his theatrically rolled rs grated at my nerves. Just be ready for a slow go of it - while books with multiple PoVs usually result in the multiple characters converging, this one never even comes close in the scope of this first novel.
Say something about yourself!
Peter Hamilton's novels always get off to a slow start -- or seem to -- because he is always telling several (in this case about 8) completely different stories at the beginning, all set in the same universe, but seemingly without connection. As the novel develops, these stories all turn out to revolve around the same set of macro events, and it is these galaxy-spanning, bigger-than-life plot arcs that drive the story. The Dreaming Void is set in the Commonwealth, the universe in which the earlier novels Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained take place, but about 1500 years later. There are a handful of important characters who carry over from the earlier novels, thanks to the wonders of rejuvenation technology, and there is no doubt that it helps to have read those earlier novels. Not all of the sub-plot arcs move along at the same pace, so there are times when I couldn't wait to get back to the story of Edeard in the Void itself (clearly the best of the plot lines in this novel), but they all work if you give them time and attention. All of the major characters are interesting and well drawn, but it is the mystery of the Void itself that is most compelling here, if a bit confusing at times. I did find that I had to rewind on occasion to make sure that I was properly understanding what was happening (e.g., there are two cities of Makkathran, the original in the Void, and the replica created based on the Dreamer's vision of the original, and at the beginning of the novel it takes some work to get clear about that sort of thing). But this is a story that repays the time and effort you will spend on it.
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