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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Ack-Ack Macaque
Gareth L. Powell
Progress: 249/792 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Isaac Newton
James Gleick
Progress: 20/289 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 454/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 232/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages
I Am a Cat
Graeme Wilson, Aiko Ito, Sōseki Natsume
Progress: 410/638 pages
The Evolutionary Void - Peter F. Hamilton Having waited what feels like eternity to get a mass market paperback edition of this, the final volume in the Void trilogy, I went back and re-read the first two volumes in order to remind myself what was going on.

Those previous volumes did not withstand a second reading very well; their primary plus points were the new SF ideas and of course, they aren't new second time around. So...1400p to remind myself of the backstory, then onwards!

The final volume suffers problems similar to those of Hamilton's two previous multi-volume space opera sagas, namely; plot points seen hundreds of pages in advance, too many disparate characters leading me to always be thinking, what's going on with...whomever...and characters that are too similar to characters in other books (even the ones that don't actually appear in earlier books in the timeline.) There is also something of E.E. Doc. Smith threat/technology-inflation.

This series is set hundreds of years after the closure of Judas Unchained in which an inter-stellar scale war is fought with weapons that can destroy stars, create blackholes, turn humans into walking battle tanks etc. But now we're in the future and technology has to have moved on...where? Hamilton strains to make believable advances on people who are immortal except for accident or deliberate violence that can already make stars go nova. The threat, which was last time genocide of all of humanity is this time genocide of the whole galaxy...

All that said, these faults are not as severe as in the previous efforts; I couldn't foresee every major plot point well in advance (although I felt I should have guessed more) and there are some surprises at the denouement. Which leaves the ending(s): Books that bring disparate characters across a galaxy in to play in critical events can't just end. They have to ends multiple times over in order to close all of the characters. This usually detracts even when the denouement was great.

There is a short story at the end of this volume, promoting a forthcoming collection of such by Hamilton. It is less than 20p long and superior to the 2000+p saga preceding it. All of Hamilton's best works have been completely self-contained and the longest of them approximately the size of any one volume in this series. I don't think I'll be reading any more multi-volume space operas by Hamilton but I will pick up that short story collection and any stand-alone novel he might release in the future.

Post scriptum: Reading Dan's review reminded me of some things I forgot to say: This volume appears to have some (not very subtle) sub-text. For instance, Utopia is bad because boring, humans need to struggle in order to have fulfilling lives, cultural imperialism is bad. People need to be allowed to evolve in seperate ways as long as no coercion is involved. This is all positive stuff, in that any sort of subtext seems absent from most of Hamilton's novels. (Fallen Dragon is an exception.) Most of these ideas are in fact SF staples and unfortunately done better elsewhere. In particular, the ideas of humans physically as well as culturally evolving in muliple directions were dealt with much better in Dan Simmons' at least equally gigantic Hyperion Cantos.