Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Evolutionary Void by Peter F Hamilton

That's it - the Void trilogy in the bag!  I reckon that's at least two thousand pages worth, all told.  I reviewed part two The Temporal Void  back in October, so I've already gone over the main plot of the book.

So, was it worth it?  Not really.  Turns out two thousand pages isn't nearly enough.  It's a very odd feeling to get deeper and deeper into a book as it gradually becomes clear that you don't really know who anyone is or what's going on.  And yet you're almost at the end, so you may as well push through.

I mentioned this problem in the last review - many of the characters had already appeared in two earlier books (not part of the trilogy!) set more than a thousand years before.  In the final part this becomes ridiculous, with more and more people turning up - folk like Ozzie, who's become such a legend that people say "Ozzie damnit" etc without thinking.  But there's very little exposition to tell you why this guy's so important.  Other "old favourites" have become space fairies (cooler than it sounds), or live as demi-gods inside asteroids, or are brought back as assassins (either mind-wiped or as clones), or are shown as holographic reconstructions/sex toys, or have become a central religious figure in the galaxy, or have become a central religious figure in a seperate dimension.

Even if I knew who these people were, I think this would still be a tough read.  I kept on trying to count how many main characters I was following in this book, and I always forgot a couple.  They popped up every so often, bombing about in spaceships of increasingly absurd speed (in this book it starts as "ultra-light speed"  and progresses from there) and I had to retrace my steps trying to figure out, as usual, who they were and what they were doing.

And yet, and yet......it's still pretty damn good.  Although it's very demanding, this really is good quality sci-fi, and by the end I had a pretty good grasp of what was happening and what was at stake.  And it's a nice big satisfying ending.  I've heard criticism of Hamilton that he always ends his epics with a deus ex machina.  In this book a machine which actually makes gods plays a big role in the finale.  I think it's probably a joke.


A few abandoned books recently - my Chinese Cultural Revolution book was just way, way too boring, which is a puzzle as it's one of the most interesting periods in 20th century history.  I was enjoying Douglas Copeland's Player One, but there's a stupid policy with Aberdeen Library that you actually have to hand back (i.e. can't renew) a book after having it out for three months.  Haters plainly gotta hate.  And I gave up on the Hobbit on audiotape, because who needs JRR Tolkien when we've got Peter Jackson?  I can wait till next year.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe you can read 2,000 pages of space garbage but can't read the MF Hobbit...

What you then need is Noise to record all of the songs in it then you can listen to them as you get to them in the book... I wonder if anyone has thought of this before? Soundtracking books...

- Bryce

Joe said...

I've read the Hobbit before anyway - I know what happens. Gollum, big spider, dragon. I was enjoying it, but started listening to tunes instead, and now it's got to back to the library nazis.

But yes! Noise sings Tolkien. Great idea. Silmarillion Ascended Masters.