Review: “The Abyss Beyond Dreams,” Peter F. Hamilton

Pros: Builds up into a fascinating tale of revolution
Cons: Awkward start & some confusion
Rating: 4 out of 5

Advance copy provided free by Random House Publishing Group – Del Rey Spectra via NetGalley.

 

The Abyss Beyond Dreams: Chronicle of the Fallers by Peter F. Hamilton is a reasonably lengthy, complex science fiction novel. In it, humans have reached the stars and a fleet has gone out in order to start a new colony. That fleet is sucked into a mysterious region of space called the Void. In the Void, technological things degrade and fail. The laws of the universe work differently there, enabling use of mental abilities such as telepathy and telekinesis. The colonists limp along to a habitable planet, guided there by a mysterious entity called a Sky Lord, and set up shop. Time moves much faster in the Void, so by the time anyone comes looking for them they’ve had time to develop a whole new civilization. A wealthy, powerful man named Nigel gets talked into helping the colonies escape the Void, using his vast resources to find a crack in the Void’s armor. In order to do what he needs to do, however, he’s going to have to manipulate his way to the heart of the colony–and back out again.

 

I had a little trouble getting into The Abyss Beyond Dreams at first. We’re tossed into the deep end with respect to all the oddities of future life, only to get tossed into a whole other layer of ‘new normal’ when the fleet immediately enters the Void. It’s a lot to learn at once. Sometimes I found the narrative’s shifts in time & space to be a little confusing. Most of them make sense eventually, but some seem oddly out of place for a while. There were also a couple of small spots in the beginning where I couldn’t understand why the characters didn’t use their telepathy or telekinesis in certain circumstances.

Each new section of the book made more sense and became more engrossing as it delved deeper into the world and finally started following a handful of characters for an extended period of time. That made it easier for me to start identifying with people and caring about what happened to them. The characters have some nice depth to them; there are no perfect people. Everyone makes their own tradeoffs between their morals and their notion of the greater good, and things are most definitely not black and white.

One of the characters we follow long-term ends up at the heart of a revolution; the look at what it takes to carry off a revolution is amazingly well-detailed and fascinating to read along with. Throw a whole lot of psychic abilities into the mix–as well as some nifty future technologies–and you get some great twists and turns.

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