The Evolutionary Void – Peter F Hamilton (2010)
Somehow managing, as he always does, to choreograph a vast cast of characters, Hamilton brings his latest trilogy to a conclusion. Various factions, agents, police operatives, religious lunatics and alien war fleets are racing toward the Void boundary to either cross over into the Void or prevent those that want to from doing so.
My disappointment with this trilogy is that, as I have no doubt said before, Inigo’s dreams of Edeard are ditchwater dull. Mercifully, Edeard’s life-story ends quite quickly, the Skylords come for him and the tedium is over, almost. There is a final dream that Inigo never revealed to anyone.
Another downside to reading these novels is that since the trilogy is, in many ways, a sequel to the Pandora’s Star books, it is often difficult to remember characters from the first books, given that each novel is released on an annual basis.
Thus we have original characters such as Oscar Monroe, Paula Myo and Justine Burnelli. Then we have their descendants, such as Araminta, Troblum, Inigo, Aaron and Edeard.
Bradley Johanssen and the Silfen return. Ozzie is rediscovered, as is Mellanie. Qatux of the Raiel makes an appearance, as does the SI, and The Cat is returned to the universe to do little more than indulge in sadosexual mind-games with young men.
There are, in fact, a surfeit of old characters. I can see that Hamilton hates to retire or kill off his children, even to the point of bringing some people back from the dead following the admittedly exciting denouement.
Interestingly, a theme that runs through Hamilton’s later work is that of the survival or continuation of the personality. The duality of the concept was explored in the Night’s Dawn Trilogy where one’s personality and memories could be uploaded into living ships or structures, contrasted with the terrifying fact that souls did survive death and were now returning via The Reality Dysfunction to possess the living.
Here we have factions of enhanced humans, some of whom have transferred their personalities into ANA, while in the Void ‘souls’ are taken to the Heart to join with it once they are fulfilled.
One could argue that, as in the Night’s Dawn Trilogy, Hamilton has opted for a Deus Ex Machina rescue at the final moment, since the Heart turns out to be an attempt on the part of the first sentient race in the galaxy to transcend their physical form and go post-alien.
The denouement, as I have said, is exciting, but has its own problems since Hamilton needed to tie up many loose ends, some of which didn’t really need tying.
It’s a trilogy which holds its head up over much of the ‘New Space Opera’ that’s around, but it may be a bit of a wake-up call for Hamilton who may have repeated himself a little too often with a number of characters who overstayed their welcome after the first time out.
There’s a new Void trilogy planned. Please please please Mr Hamilton, can you programme your laptop to erase any mystical Malkathran cod-fantasy third hand maudlin medieval nonsense before the manuscript gets teleported to the publishers via your private t-sphere? Thank you.