The Naked God (Night’s Dawn #3) – Peter F Hamilton (1999)
‘HELL JUST WENT QUANTUM
The Confederation is starting to collapse politically and economically, allowing the ‘possessed’ to infiltrate more worlds.
Quinn Dexter is loose on Earth, destroying the great arcologies one at a time. As Louise Kavanagh tries to track him down, she manages to acquire some strange and powerful allies whose goal does not quite match her own.
The campaign to liberate Mortonridge from the possessed degenerates into a horrendous land battle of the type not seen by humankind for six hundred years. Then some of the protagonists escape in a very unexpected direction…
Joshua Calvert and Syrinx now fly their starships on a mission to find the Sleeping God – which an alien race believes holds the key to finally overthrowing the possessed.’
Blurb from the 2000 Pan paperback edition.
The conclusion to Hamilton’s shelf-busting trilogy doesn’t initially quite match up to the brilliance of the first two books, but thankfully builds to a deeply satisfying climax.
In the conclusion, we discover that the sentient habitat Tranquility, which we last saw disappear while under attack from the forces of Al Capone, has reappeared among the Edenist habitats of Jupiter.
It would appear that all along the giant living Rama-style cylinder had built-in technology which would allow it to ‘jump’ through space in times of danger. The Kiint seemed unaware of this, however, and had already teleported back to their homeworld. The juvenile Kiint Haile also took along Jay Hilton, much to the disapproval of the Kiint.
One might argue that Hamilton’s work relies too much on militaristic action and graphic violence. Certainly, a large chunk of this final novel covers the ‘Liberation of Mortonridge’ – an attempt to free the population of a peninsula on one of the planets of the Kulu Kingdom.
A vast army of bitek ‘serjeants’ have been produced to invade the area and de-possess the inhabitants. This turns into a long and bitter struggle, but one which focuses more on the effect it has on the protagonists than on shoot-em-up action.
Much of the novel is also about explanations and revelations. More is discovered about the Kiint whose involvement (somewhat short of outright interference) with the history of humanity goes far far deeper anyone had realised.
In the previous novels, the possessed had taken entire planets into parallel dimensions. Here, we follow them to discover that their lives are not the Paradise they expected. It is discovered, as was suggested previously, that the possessors’ ability to change the shape of the bodies they inhabited encouraged cancerous tumours to proliferate, giving the possessed a far shorter lifespan than the immortality they imagined.
Joshua Calvert, the central character about whom all the storylines revolve, is sent on a mission to discover the Sleeping God of the Tyrathca, somewhere beyond the Orion nebula; a godlike artefact/entity ‘Big Dumb Object’ which may hold the key to solving the possession crisis.
Ultimately, and cleverly, the various storylines and character journeys converge to one point in time. Joshua himself questions the Sleeping God (a stable mirrorlike naked singularity orbiting a planetless star) on the coincidences which have led him (and other characters) to this point and is given an answer which, if not really plausible, provides a certain kind of satisfaction to the reader within the context of the work.
In this novel, the themes of transformation and revelation come to the fore. No character remains unchanged by their journeys through the crisis and ultimately, the whole of human society is transformed.
This, along with Robinson’s ‘Mars’ trilogy, is one of the last great works of SF of the 20th century. They are vastly different in tone, style, and their categorical positions within the genre, but they give me faith that SF can still – and will in the future – produce the sense of wonder which many thought had been long lost.