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The Temporal Void
Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey, 723 pages

The Temporal 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 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 Greg L. Johnson

It was the best of universes, it was the worst of universes. That Dickens-like dichotomy pretty sums up the attitudes of residents of our universe towards the Void, a separate universe with its own physical laws that somehow exists inside our own. For members of the Living Dream religion, the Void is the promised land, a place where they could live exactly as they want to. For others, the Void is a menace, not just because of its existence, but because it is expanding, and devouring our own universe from within.

After the events portrayed in The Dreaming Void, the Void has suddenly grown even faster than before. At the same time, members of the Living Dream have started a mass migration, hoping to lead them to a new home in the Void. The government of the human Commonwealth and others who see the Void as a danger are out to stop them, and prevent the Void from swallowing our universe from within.

That part of the story fits pretty comfortably into the standard part two of a trilogy scenario. Like The Dreaming Void, The Temporal Void alternates between action and intrigue in our universe and the story of Edeard, also known as the Waterwalker, in the Void. It's in Edeard's story that the details of life in the Void, what it means for the humans who already live there, its relationship to our universe, and the exact nature of the threat it poses to our universe begin to emerge. If the emphasis in The Dreaming Void was how the existence of the Void was affecting life in our universe, by the end of The Temporal Void the focus has turned to the Void, where the story of Edeard's life has slowly but surely become the key to determining how the Void works, and why.

Readers and fans of Peter F. Hamilton will find everything they have come to expect from his work present in The Temporal Void. There are the high-tech civilizations, this is, after all, a space-opera, and the individuals they empower. There are insider schemes and outsiders desperately trying to figure out what's going on. There is also the author's seeming fascination with life after death, all of it wrapped up in a story that places as much emphasis on characters as it does gadgets and galaxy-threatening, life-changing events.

There are also a few weaknesses evident. As Edeard's story becomes more central to the plot, less time is spent on other characters, and there are times when it almost seems a sub-plot or two has disappeared from the story. And life in the Commonwealth, for all its high-tech marvels, often comes across as living in one big intergalactic suburb. Those faults, though, hardly get in the way of what continues to be a gripping story, with the fates of two universes at stake, and characters whose lives are completely caught up in what is the central mystery of the universe they inhabit. Peter F. Hamilton is not a writer who is out to re-invent the field or tell his story in a way that has never been done before, but he is a writer more than capable of taking the basic elements of wide-ranging, galaxy-spanning space opera, and using them to tell stories that work both as adventure tales and portrayals of an interesting and diverse set of characters. Now all that's left is to find out how the story ends.

Copyright © 2009 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson feels he showed admirable restraint by not once making a pun based on the theme of two universes avoiding each other. Greg's 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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