I am a huge fan of Peter F. Hamilton. I was introduced to him from another blog Walkerofworlds. I devour his Commonwealth Saga and The Void Trilogy series and have read The Abyss Beyond Dreams the first entry of the Chronicle of the Fallers series with the follow up A Night Without Stars floating around the house somewhere waiting its turn. Of course rather than read in order when I found a copy of one of his earliest books The Reality Dysfunction Part 1: Emergence at a garage sale I bought the book and started right in.
The story starts out a bit slow as Hamilton introduces the array of people and places that will be important later. Ione Saldana who rules a city state that is doing important scientific research, Joshua Calvert a owner of a space ship and a man who hits it big, indentured workers on a newly colonized planet called Lalonde and many more.
Initially it is hard to get a grip on where the story is going as it skips between new, developing worlds, space smuggling and views of different societies. If you are unfamiliar with Hamilton’s work the science and its detailed descriptions can be a bit of a burden to work through. However if you are familiar you will see a great deal of technology, and society for that matter, will emerge more fully in some of his other books.
A few interesting items that I have not seen in other of his books is self aware habitats which grow, require nutrients and can communicate with the people that live in them. The same for space ships which are born with human embryos in them and the two are a bonded pair for life. The child then grows up in a human environment while the ship is left to mature I space. I thought that this was very clever.
One of Hamilton’s strengths is also his portrayal of the bad guys. Here there are various players that are showed to be evil and some that you question their morality. A man seeking to create a universe of clones of himself, Satan worshipers, smugglers bringing illegal weapons to fringe political groups and a lot more. The bad guys and the changing face of evil were very interesting and look to be horrifying in the follow up books.
I have to say upfront it is not my favorite of his books. While all of the elements that I enjoyed from previous books are present such as a large cast of realistic characters and plenty of different points of view (POV), lots of science and descriptions of it and very good world building. It just did not click with me. I did not find the heroes that interesting, and a bit one dimensional. The story kind of dragged a bit. I was really not interested in any of the major players.
I noticed that this was the first major Space Opera from Hamilton and I think it shows. His character building in subsequent books is much better IMHO, the plots seem to flow more smoothly and while there is a lot of science I think that he presents it much better in the future. I doubt that I will read the follow up books in this series as he has plenty of more recent books that I have not yet started.