The Dreaming Void – Peter F Hamilton (2007)
‘AD 3580. The Intersolar Commonwealth has spread through the galaxy to cover a thousand star systems. A powerful navy protects it from any hostile species – and for Commonwealth citizens even death has been overcome.
At the centre of the galaxy is The Void, a strange artificial universe created by aliens billions of years ago. In order to function, it is gradually consuming the mass of the galaxy. Watched over by its ancient enemies, the Raiel, the Void’s expansion is barely contained.
When Inigo – who dreams of the sweet life within the Void – mysteriously disappears, his followers embark on a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage which the Raiel claim will trigger a catastrophic expansion of the Void.
Aaron is a man whose only memory is his own name. All he does know is that his job is to find the missing messiah and stop the pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, a junior constable called Edeard starts to challenge the corruption and decay that have poisoned the city and is determined that his fellow citizens should know hope again.’
Blurb from the 2008 Pan paperback edition
The first volume of Hamilton’s ‘Void’ trilogy is set in his Commonwealth universe, approximately a thousand years after the events related in ‘Pandora’s Star’ and ‘Judas Unchained’
As usual, Hamilton employs a large cast in a multi-character storyline some of whom, familiar from the previous books, are still extant after a millennium, but existing in a very different universe. Many of the ageless humans have chosen to upload their personalities into the ANA, a vast quantum-based multi-consciousness AI, where political factions have evolved.
Humanity has now made contact with many alien species, and are part of a multi-species project observing ‘the Void’, an expanding universe at the centre of our galaxy. Some time ago, one of the human observers, Inigo, began to have dreams about events happening within The Void, which at one time apparently allowed a human colony ship through its otherwise deadly event horizon.
Thanks to Ozzie – who dismantled his Sylfen amulet and analysed the quantum entanglement within, Humanity now has ‘gaiamotes’, implants which allow telepathy between humans. When Inigo’s dreams were released into the gaiafield it spawned a new religion. Inigo’s followers are now planning to launch a pilgrimage to The Void, a plan which some aliens and ANA factions suspect may increase the expansion of The Void and endanger the galaxy.
Meanwhile, other dreams of The Void are being released into the gaiafield from an unknown source and agents of all the interested parties are on the hunt for both Inigo, who has gone into hiding, and the new dreamer.
The action is split between events in our galaxy and the details of Inigo’s dreams which follow the life of Edeard, a young man who, like most of The Void’s inhabitants, has psionic powers of telepathy and psychokinesis.
Like most of Hamilton’s work the plot is complex and multi-stranded, and although it is not entirely necessary one would do well to read the earlier novels in order to understand the backstories of some of the characters and the galactic commonwealth itself.
The weakest sections are those which relate Inigo’s dreams of Edeard’s life. Perhaps deliberately, Hamilton has given these sections a medieval/fairytale-like quality which doesn’t sit well with the fast-paced hi-tech full-on action which is going on in the outer galaxy.
Also, one has to say that the Inigo’s dream sequences are frankly, a little dull. One hopes there will be less of them in the next two volumes.
It is oddly comforting, however, to have familiar figures returning such as Paula Myo, still pursuing criminals but now having had a certain amount of compassion edited into her obsessive compulsive personality. Gore and Justine Bernelli are still about, albeit in avatar form having uploaded themselves into the ANA centuries ago.