Daily Archives: Monday, 1st Oct 2007

Peter F Hamilton – The Dreaming Void

Oh, good. Peter F Hamilton is back with another big bold dose of high-quality hard sf. The Dreaming Void, billed as part one of the Void Trilogy, is a sequel of sorts to The Commonwealth Saga. something like 1,500 years have passed since the Starflyer War, and the Commonwealth has grown, diversified and fragmented. People have divided into a number of broad groups, principally “Highers”, who tend to go for artificial enhancement[1], and tend to download themselves into a kind of collective intelligence thingy known as ANA; and “Advancers”, who are more inclined towards genetic enhancement. Contact has been made with many more alien species, some of whom are even prepared to talk to humans. And what with all the fancy technology available, some characters from the earlier books are still around, and not looking a day older.

In his usual way, Hamilton sets up the background gradually with a minimum of infodumps. It turns out that what had previously been assumed to be a large black hole at the centre of our galaxy is in fact the Void – an artificial universe created billions of years ago. many ships have entered the Void to investigate it, but none have ever come out.

But it seems that information of a kind is leaking from the Void. A man called Inigo has been having dreams about life on a planet within the Void, which (thanks to some more fancy technology, etc) he has shared with billions of people, forming a religion. After Inigo’s mysterious disappearance, his followers decide to go on a pilgrimage into the Void. All of them. Now that could be a problem, because according to the Raiel, an ancient alien species who’ve been watching and guarding the Void for longer than seems reasonable, the pilgrimage will trigger something Very Bad Indeed: the Void will expand and absorb the galaxy.

Then there’s Aaron[2] – a man with lots of very interesting technology built in, but no memory. He just knows that his job is to find Inigo and stop the pilgrimage from happening. And he really doesn’t care who he kills[3] to do it.

And there has to be more to Araminta than meets the eye. She’s an ambitious young woman setting up her business, but she’s been having some very strange dreams.

And finally, there’s Edeard, a young man on a very strange planet, where humans have psychic powers, and are surrounded by alien life and a remarkably accommodating abandoned alien city. Edeard’s powers are a lot stronger than most people’s, and it seems he can do things nobody else can do. It also seems that he’s the central figure of Inigo’s dreams…

There’s always a bit of a problem with talking about parts of trilogies. The first volume inevitably spends most of its length[4] setting up the situation and the second is inevitably inconclusive, so it’s not until the whole edifice is complete that you can really tell if it was worth the effort. However, this opening volume is an enjoyable read, with lots of action, fun technology, crazy people and lots of sneaky conspiracies to disentangle. It certainly kept me turning pages long after I should have been asleep last week…

[1] Seriously fancy implants, providing such useful things as personal force fields and weaponry
[2] No, not him
[3] Not that death is generally permanent in the Commonwealth. People are “re-lifed” – their backed-up memories are implanted into fast-grown clones. But it’s still something of an inconvenience…
[4] And this being a Peter F Hamilton book, it’s got a lot of that…

Weighty Matters

Regular readers of Losing it[1] may well have been saying to themselves

Funny, Les hasn’t mentioned any of that weight or exercise stuff for a while

And you know, they’re right. The last weight report was nearly five months ago, which is several decades in internet time. You’ll be familiar with the expression “no news is good news”, but I’m afraid that isn’t the case in this case. In case you were wondering[1], I’ve been generally letting things go for quite a while. Eating too much, and exercise (even walking to work) has become a distant memory. :duh:

All of which has led to my weight creeping inexorably[2] upward, to the point where I’m now only ten pounds lighter than I was nearly four years ago, when I started trying to lose weight. Now that’s not a Good Thing at all. In fact, it’s a Bad Thing. Bad enough that it’s made me feel a wee bit motivated. I’m going to have to phase this in gradually, but I’ve started with something simple: reducing lunch back to a sandwich only. I’d got into the habit of adding a couple of very fattening sausage rolls, and somehow that led to chocolate bars sneaking back in, after a long period of managing to avoid them.

And I have a minor initial exercise target: I will aim for at least half of my journeys to and from work to be of the walking variety. Let’s see how that goes for a few weeks. Regular reports will follow. Probably.

[1] That’s enough cases for now, I think. There’s enough there for a month’s holiday
[2] Now there’s a high-class word.