Published by Del Rey
Hardcover, August 2010
Space Opera doesn’t get much more epic than Peter F. Hamilton, something proven in spades in The Evolutionary Void, the concluding volume of his Void Trilogy. This book picks up without delay, following the closing events of the previous volume, The Temporal Void, so it would be challenging for any ready to pick up this novel without having read its two predecessors.
Throughout the three volumes of the trilogy, Hamilton has juxtaposed two societies – the inhabitants of the Void who are of a medieval level society against those who live outside the void in the universe at large. The people outside the Void are divided and many of them find inspiration from one man’s dreams of the world inside the Void, specifically a young, powerful psychic by the name of Edeard, whom people have anointed the Waterwalker. A religious movement, The Living Dream, has arisen and is looking to make a pilgrimage to the inside of the Void. Problem being is the Void is expanding exponentially and threatening the integrity of the universe. In order to prevent the Living Dream from completing its pilgrimage and further endangering the universe, humanity has tried to prevent this religious cult, for lack of a better term, from completing their pilgrimage.
Hamilton continues to jump around the galaxy in his narratives, from Paula Myo’s investigative track, to Araminta’s storyline of continued discovery, to Edeards’ heroic journey of ascension in Makkathran, to the conflict between humans who have and have not chosen a post-physical existence. Through all of it, the most defined narrative for me was Edeard’s story. While Hamilton invested a great deal of time into many of characters, like Myo who has been bouncing around his books for thousands of years and pages, it is Edeard who comes across as the most clearly defined and genuine.
The plotting was fairly tight, considering Hamilton was wrapping up not just the Void trilogy, but bringing closure to storylines churning for two series, totaling 5 books of over 500 pages each. Despite this I found it a bit difficult to remain focused throughout the novel. At times Hamilton’s storytelling had me completely hooked, the Edeard scenes, the last 100 pages, events involving Justine, and scenes involving Araminta. Some of the other scenes like those involving Paula and Ozzie; however, weren’t as simpatico.
The conclusion and coming together of the story threads introduced in The Dreaming Void though hoped for in the way Hamilton led us to the convergence, was still as satisfying and powerful as the foundation laid before it led me to believe. The true nature of Makkathran is a nice touch as well, as was Hamilton’s final scenes featuring the Waterwalker himself.
With The Evolutionary Void, Hamilton has further proven why many consider him the master of Epic Science fiction. It isn’t just because the books he writers are enormous bricks, but because of the scale of his stories, the ability to paint relatively believable futures on a wide canvas, and the powerful ideas that fuel his stories. Religious movements, potential destruction of the galaxy, the advancement of the human race, war and communion with alien species, living beyond death – all that plus more in on continuous story, pretty Epic by any standards but just par for the course in a novel/series by Peter F. Hamilton.
Recommended with the proviso that (at the least) one read The Dreaming Void and The Temporal Void before this one.
© 2010 Rob H. Bedford