It’s a Peter F. Hamilton, which means it’s the size of a freaking shoebox and full of spaceships and aliens and enhanced human beings and whatnot.
It’s also the first book in a new series (The Void Trilogy, apparently, don’t know how much of the other books are written yet) which is set in a continuation of The Commonwealth universe, only 1,000 more years in the future. Which poses two problems, for me at least. Firstly, I didn’t really like the Commonwealth books as much as the Night’s Dawn ones (thought Judas Unchained was disappointing, more than anything else). Secondly, I read the Night’s Dawn ones more recently, so I have forgotten a lot of the characters and what the technologies all are, which is a bit of a problem because, since humans are now immortal, a lot of the characters from Commonwealth are still kicking around, despite being 1,500 years old. Those are minor quibbles, though, since most of it all is explained – it’s not like Hamilton doesn’t have room for a bit of backstory interspersed through the 800 pages.
But, being a science fiction book, obviously there’s got to be a bit that doesn’t make any sense until you’ve read 90% of the book – which in this case is Inigo’s Dreams, set inside the Void in the centre of the galaxy (which is slowly expanding and consuming stars). And this is where the book really pisses me off, because it’s almost pure fantasy – telekinesis, telepathy, medieval guild structured societies… bleh, I don’t care. (The plot is that a shipful of humans went into the Void, despite the fact that no-one else can manage it, and discovered a different world, where all kinds of psychic shit is possible, and they’ve developed into this society, but it’s totally corrupt. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’ll do.) Anyway, somehow, someone outside can dream the interior and so there’s this religion that think everyone should go inside because it’s such a great place to live. NO. It would suck. I know religions are generally quite stupid, but giving up immortality and peace (the human race is pretty much at complete peace with itself, and could totally kick the ass of most of the alien races they know) for a world in which someone can kill you by crushing your heart with their “third hand” from across the road… just makes no sense AT ALL.
At least, it doesn’t yet… There is another 1600 pages of this story to go. And I will probably read it, because I kind of want to know what happens, plus if I buy enough of these damn books I’ll be able to build a wall of science fiction and that would totally rock.
Diaspora, Greg Egan – a much more entertaining and thought provoking treatment of post-physical humanity.
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett – why fantasy sucks monkey ass.