Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Evolutionary Void

Peter F. Hamilton
MacMillan, 2010 (my hardcover copy is a first edition, gracefully provided by MacMillan for review)
Size: Long (my copy has 726 pages)
Theme: Futuristic space opera
Narrative: third-person
Main character: (Edeard and others)
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

As the last book of a series, it was not intended to be read alone, and you should definitely read the two preceding novels, The Dreaming Void and The Temporal Void (which I have reviewed before), before you pick this up. The same applies to this review; it is essentially a spoiler for someone who did not read books #1 and #2. That being said, as one could expect, the Evolutionary Void continues the epic tale of the void phenomena and the efforts by the protagonists to either stop it from destroying the galaxy or take advantage of its power to further their own ambitions.
This novel maintains the approach of switching narrative at each chapter between the events inside the void to those outside. The plot quickly kicks off with mind-numbing events: the deployment of the deterrence fleet (revealed to be in fact pure energy controlled by a single consciousness, namely Chief Admiral Kazimir), the existence of a single extremely powerful nameless ship controlled by the Accelerators, the decision by ANA:Governance to suspend the activities of that faction, followed by Ilanthe separating from ANA in an inversion core and fleeing the solar system in the ship, trapping the entire Sol system and the deterrence fleet inside a barrier based on Dark Fortress technology. All this and more takes place in the first 90 pages. Afterwards the story will also follow Aaron’s quest to bring together Ozzie, Inigo, and the second dreamer so they can try to stop the void. In addition to Justine’s attempt to reach the heart of the void, Gore Burnelli starts an alternative plan that involves the Anomine race, most of which evolved into post-physical a long time ago. Along the entire book, Araminta continues having a pivotal role, but one that will grow in complexity, as she finally decides on a path of her own that will affect how everything plays out.

Inside the void universe, Edeard is finding out how difficult it is to live a perfect life, even with all his power and the void’s temporal abilities at his disposal. We are told of his multiple attempts at getting everything absolutely right, only to be thwarted by different problems at each iteration. And, as events unfold, we find out how the ability to do whatever you want will not necessarily bring you closer to fulfillment. We also learn why Inigo ended up abandoning the Living Dream movement and going into seclusion. In this final installment of the series, the interaction between the events inside and outside the void will be much higher, and the two realities will blend in the plot.

The book was just as good as the two previous novels. I much enjoyed the narrative style, the detailed and enticing plot, the cast of characters that we had already become familiar with, and the appropriate pace. I found that the mix between highly advanced technology of modern society and the near-medieval level within the void worked very well. The author managed to propose very interesting cosmic phenomena, from evolution into post-physical to quantum states of exotic matter, and make them fit seamlessly in the overall plot. As the saying goes for all good things, it had to come to an end, but I was left totally satisfied with the conclusion of this saga.

Related work:
This is the last book of the series (#3 of 3), and follows the events from The Dreaming Void and The Temporal Void. Although this story takes place in the same universe as the earlier Commonwealth stories by Hamilton, they are separate enough for those not to be considered prequels.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

In the final chapters of the book, Makkathran is revealed to be the last survivor of the Raiel Armada. Inigo, Ozzie, Oscar, Araminta, Justine, and others convince the living city/ship and subsequently a skylord to take them to the heart, even as they bring back Edeard from the memory layer of the void. There, Edeard manages to contact a Firstlife alien form, and the final showdown takes place between the group that wants to show the Firstlife that the void is killing the galaxy and that there is a better way to achieve what they intended, and Ilanthe, that wants to eliminate all entropy and extend the composition of the void to the entire universe.

No comments:

Post a Comment