The Dreaming Void
By Peter F. Hamilton; Read by Toby Longworth
20 CDs – 23 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Audio UK
Published: February 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Aliens / Artifact / Nanotechnology / Politics / Singularity / Space Travel /
AD 3580. The Intersolar Commonwealth has spread through the galaxy to over a thousand star systems. It is a culture of rich diversity with a place for everyone. Even death itself has been overcome. But at the centre of the Commonwealth is a massive black hole. This Void is not a natural artefact. Inside there is a strange universe where the laws of physics are very different to those we know. It is slowly consuming the other stars of the galactic core – one day it will devour the entire galaxy. Inigo, a human, has started to dream of a wonderful existence in the Void. He has a following of millions of believers and they now clamour to make a pilgrimage into the Void to live the life they have been shown. Other starfaring species fear their migration will cause the Void to expand again. They are prepared to stop them no matter what the cost. And so the pilgrimage begins…
The Dreaming Void is a very big book and it’s an even bigger audiobook. Peter F. Hamilton’s story is one of the better recent SF stories that I’ve experienced in any form, full of fascinating settings, situations, and ideas. It has many fully realized subplots and varied characters, too many. What could have been at least two brilliant stories, one of the commonwealth dealing with the potentially disastrous consequences of an attempted pilgrimage into the Void, and one of the much more low-key story of Inigo’s dreams, is instead merely a long opening to a longer trilogy.
The main plot(s) of the story are wonderful. It is science fiction as it should be. It takes the imagination to new vistas, mixing newer ideas (the Void, gaiafield, etc) with core traditions of SF (space travel, aliens, etc). Indeed, the basic story is nearly perfect but with all the stretching, it greatly overstays its welcome. Somewhere around the twelve hour mark, listening to The Dreaming Void became a chore. If I had not already committed so much time to the story, I would have quit then.
Final analysis: The Dreaming Void is just too big a novel, filled with many unnecessary subplots and distractions. It is far too easy loose track of the multitude of characters inhabiting this enormous beginning to the “Void Trilogy.” Yet, it is far from a hopeless audiobook. Throughout the epic story, the skill of both author and the reader are quite apparent and each part of the story is interesting. I am still of very mixed opinions about the story. I will look for more stories written by Peter F. Hamilton and more read by Toby Longworth, but only if they are about half this length or shorter. However, the audiobook might well be worth the effort for someone who has a lot of free time and is willing to take notes.
Posted by David Tackett