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The Dreaming Void
Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey, 630 pages

The Dreaming 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: 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

A review by Greg L. Johnson

The Dreaming Void is a big book. Peter F. Hamilton doesn't seem to be able to write any other kind, yet by the time you get to the end it feels like its six hundred and thirty pages have been devoted to accomplishing one major goal; that of setting the reader up for the really big story that is yet to come. And when you're talking galaxy-spanning space opera with a cast of characters every bit as large as its setting, there's nothing wrong with that.

Even with all the introducing of characters, setting, and story, Hamilton manages to keep The Dreaming Void moving right along. The Dreaming Void takes place in the same universe as his earlier duology, Judas Unchained and Pandora's Star. It's about fifteen hundred years after the events depicted in those novels, and humanity has spread further into the galaxy. The Commonwealth has developed both sociologically and technologically to where immortality and group minds are real possibilities. At the same time, discovery of a micro-universe at the center of the galaxy, known as the Void, has led to some fears that the Milky Way may be in the process of being consumed from within.

Some years before the start of The Dreaming Void, a man named Inigo travelled near the Void and experienced a series of dreams that suggested this seemingly impenetrable Void had already been visited by and was in fact inhabited by human beings. Those dreams spread throughout human occupied space and became the foundation for a movement known as the Living Dream. When a second series of dreams, from a second dreamer, begin to be felt, the members of Living Dream decide that the time has come to enter the Void. The only problem is that many other people, including the alien raiel, believe that any attempt to do so will trigger an expansion of the Void, and doom the rest of the galaxy.

Hamilton alternates the story of Living Dream's quest and the reactions of various other characters with the story of Inigo's dreams. By the end of the book, the protagonists are all working at cross-purposes, a couple of characters that will be familiar to readers of the previous Commonwealth novels have appeared, and the stage has been set for a story that compares and contrasts a high-tech society with one that functions at a much lower technological level, but whose inhabitants are discovering and mastering psychic abilities unknown to the rest of humanity.

The Dreaming Void has all the grandness of scope, big ideas, and complications of plot that make for a first-class, epic space opera. There's also enough humor, insight, and character development to make sure that the big ideas have a human context in which to exist. Peter F. Hamilton has become a master of this sort of epic, and past readers of his work should have no problem immersing themselves in a story of human, post-human, and alien characters caught up in a grand adventure. Readers new to his work will find all that, and also discover why Peter F. Hamilton has become one of the writers who set the standards by which the New Space Opera is judged.

Copyright © 2008 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson is once again discovering that Peter F. Hamilton's books are not only full of big ideas, they take up a sizable bit of bookshelf space, too. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction. And, for something different, Greg blogs about news and politics relating to outdoors issues and the environment at Thinking Outside.

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