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By C. Hartmann on 10-30-14
Intersection of the Void and Commonwealth - Super
John Lee is the best narrator ever and the Hamilton Commonwealth/Void series is one of the best Meta-Space Operas ever Nice combination. If you have followed our various storylines in and out of the Void you will have to read this. If not, you will not get it. But can I make a suggestion? Go back and start with "Pandora's Star"....I envy you the journey.
Pandora's Star (2004), ISBN 0-330-49331-0
Judas Unchained (2005), ISBN 0-330-49353-1
The Dreaming Void (2007), ISBN 978-1-4050-8880-0
The Temporal Void (2008), ISBN 978-1-4050-8883-1
The Evolutionary Void (2010), ISBN 978-0-345-49657-7
The Abyss Beyond Dreams (2014) (This one)
The Night Without Stars (TBA)
164 of 168 people found this review helpful
By SciFi Kindle on 11-17-14
Void redux, genre blender
Like Hamilton’s earlier Void trilogy, this story is largely set in the pocket universe of The Void, where electronics and other post-19th century technology fails, and society has developed around ubiquitous psychic ability. Hamilton avoids continuity problems by devising an independent planet, Bienvenido, within the same Void as the earlier stories on which to stage the action. Here, all the same physical Void laws remain the same, but have slightly different nomenclature. Likewise, a similar social structure has arisen in Bienvenido to that of the earlier novels’ Querencia; a corrupt aristocracy with limited democratic dressing. Astonishingly, he also carries over the same archetype for his main protagonist; an idealist young lawman who enters the lion’s den city as an outsider intent on reform. The main situational difference between Querencia and Bienvenido is the ongoing threat of ‘Fallers’, alien pod-people who murder and assume the shape of their victims. Some sentimental wish fulfillment is introduced when a super-capable Nigel Sheldon appears on the scene from the outside universe. His Commonwealth technology is largely functional in the Void due to some effective planning, and he proceeds to manipulate people and events in order to stop these Fallers and break everyone free from the Void.
While it’s enjoyable to watch Nigel outsmart every other character in the book, it kind of reduces the drama to see him so wildly under-matched. The pacing often felt rushed as well, with several years of machinations compressed down to a few pages in order to hasten events. I think the story works best when it leans into the SF genre and away from the Fantasy one: The Commonwealth scenes are just more entertaining to me than the horseback ones. One notable exception can be found in the most interesting moment of the whole story, the discovery in the Desert of Bones. Here there is depth and wonder worthy of the Space Opera genre.
My biggest surprise with this story is how proximate it is to the Void trilogy. While it is technically set in between the Starflyer and Void episodes of Hamilton’s Commonwealth stories, it isn’t the narrative bridge I had expected. The readers who will enjoy this story most are those who preferred the Void stories, appreciating a good dose of Fantasy with their SF.
18 of 21 people found this review helpful