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The Evolutionary Void: Book 3, The Void Trilogy
Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey, 695 pages

The Evolutionary Void
Peter F. Hamilton
Peter F. Hamilton was born in Rutland, UK in 1960. In addition to the three Greg Mandel novels, Mindstar Rising, A Quantum Murder and The Nano Flower (all from Tor), he is the author of the UK bestseller, The Reality Dysfunction, which, along with The Neutronium Alchemist, form volumes 1 and 2 of Night's Dawn trilogy.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Temporal Void
SF Site Review: The Dreaming Void
SF Site Review: Judas Unchained
SF Site Review: Misspent Youth
SF Site Review: The Reality Dysfunction
SF Site Review: A Second Chance at Eden
SF Site Review: Greg Mandel Trio
SF Site Review: A Quantum Murder
SF Site Review: The Neutronium Alchemist

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dominic Cilli

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The Evolutionary Void is the third and final volume of Peter F. Hamilton's The Void Trilogy, but that is a little bit misleading. Yes, it is true and that is how it will be listed in bibliographies, but in reality it's really the fifth volume of the Commonwealth Saga and the culmination of one of the grandest modern space operas ever written. If you are unfamiliar with Peter F. Hamilton, don't even think of reading any of The Void Trilogy before you have read both Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained. "Official" bibliographies will list those two volumes as The Commonwealth Saga, and separate from The Void Trilogy, but readers will lose far too much of what makes Hamilton's Void series an absolutely spectacular read if they haven't read both books prior to undertaking any of the volumes of The Void Trilogy. The books are filled with characters and references from the Commonwealth Saga and readers will find it more difficult to fully appreciate The Evolutionary Void without having read Hamilton's prior work. Fear not though faithful readers, all five volumes of The Commonwealth Saga are entertaining and extremely compelling reads.

Given the scope and complexity of these novels writing an accurate plot synopsis would be akin to writing a full blown novella, so I will just give you the basics. The Void Trilogy is set nearly 1,500 years after the events in Judas Unchained and up until The Evolutionary Void has been two fairly separate stories. It's in this final volume where the stories finally merge. First of all, we have Edeard's story. It takes place inside the void in the city of Makkathran and its setting is one that can be characterized as more fantasy than science fiction. There is no real technology on Makkathran and gunpowder is the most advanced form of weaponry they possess, instead people have varying degrees of psychic abilities and Edeard's is the most powerful. Edeard's tale is wonderfully written and highly inspirational. It will be easy for reader's to see why Edeard's story inside the void has sparked a massive religious movement called Living Dream outside the void and throughout Commonwealth space. Edeard's story was shared by millions of people in the commonwealth through the dreams of a medium named Inigo. His dreams have been recorded and studied and have become a bible to the Living Dream movement. Suddenly, a second dreamer has emerged named Araminta, a small time real estate investor on a distant planet and the Living Dream movement needs her and her connection to the void as a means to lead its followers inside. As Edeard's story unfolds and the true nature of the void is revealed, it becomes clear to the followers of Living Dream that the void is where the next stage of human evolution will occur. Two problems, first of all, the void is expanding and when it does it consumes and destroys everything in its path. If Living Dream is allowed to enter the void, it could completely destroy the galaxy. Secondly, the void is impregnable and the only way in is to capture an unwilling Araminta. The various players will stop at nothing to get their hands on Araminta and the ensuing game of cat and mouse between the various factions of Living Dream, Araminta and the Commonwealth government comprise the second storyline. Its action packed and filled with dozens of characters from Hamilton's previous works. The grand finale features the convergence of the two storylines and Hamilton provides us with a very satisfactory, although somewhat ironic, conclusion to this epic tale.

It is fairly common knowledge around the science fiction community that Peter F. Hamilton is regarded as one of the truly great writers in the genre and judging by The Evolutionary Void it's easy to see why. The Evolutionary Void and The Commonwealth Saga in general are just filled with so many wonderful little touches and Hamilton introduces so many new concepts that it will, at times, force readers to stop and contemplate what science might have in store for us over the next couple thousand years. I must admit I caught myself doing it on several occasions. Hamilton can juggle dozens of characters and subplots effortlessly and still manage to keep readers completely entertained throughout. The Evolutionary Void is a twisting and complex story, but readers shouldn't have a difficult time following the story. Don't get me wrong, this isn't easy reading, but I don't think readers will find it overwhelming either.

There really isn't a whole lot not to like about The Evolutionary Void. It would have been useful to have included an index of characters as is common in novels that handle so many. The first volume of the series The Dreaming Void included a timeline that outlined the events that took place between Judas Unchained and the start of The Void Trilogy which I think most readers will find very useful, but it was not reprinted in the subsequent books and I found myself having to go back and refer to it as the story and my understanding of it unfolded. Other than that, The Evolutionary Void was a great read and worthy of a spot on any science fiction fan's bookshelf. For the time being, The Commonwealth Saga appears to have come to a conclusion, one can only hope that Peter F. Hamilton will revisit Commonwealth space in the future.

Copyright © 2011 Dominic Cilli

When asked to write a third-person tag line for his reviews, Dominic Cilli farmed the work out to an actual 3rd person, his friend Neal, who in turn turned it over to a second person who then asked his third cousin to help out and this person whom Dom doesn't even know then wrote in 8th person Omniscient mode "Dom's breadth of knowledge in literature runs the gamut and is certainly not bounded by the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. One thing I can say with certainty is that of all the people I don't know who've ever recommended books to read, Dom's recommendations are the best.


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