The Abyss Beyond Dreams: Chronicle of the Fallers
by Peter F. Hamilton
Cover Artist: Chester Orwell
Review by Jon Guenther
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345547194
Date: 21 October 2014 List Price $30.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
While I'm strongly familiar with The Night's Dawn trilogy and the Confederation around which it's built, I'm a complete newcomer to Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth story arc. Still, it didn't take away a bit of the enjoyment I experienced reading The Abyss Beyond Dreams.
One of the strongest elements to Hamilton's stories are his characterizations, and I found that no less true with this book. This story follows Nigel Sheldon (apparently the creator of Commonwealth society) as he decides to take a trip into the Void. Unfortunately, he winds up stranded on the planet of Bienvenido, a society without advanced space-faring technology. The citizens of this planet are at war with the mysterious aliens known as Fallers, who conquer planets by sending bio-engineered egg-like weapons to lure and consume humans via telepathy.
There are often times in Hamilton's book where I find I must re-read full passages to get a better grasp on some of the science he describes, and yet I can't help but feel riveted to the story. That was the case with this novel, just as it has been in some of his previous books. I also enjoyed this novel because it seemed in many parts that he's pulled back on the exposition and reveals the story more through dialog and characterization. Can't go wrong with that and in this book I found it contained a happy balance.
I've seen some other opinions by readers out there stating that one should read the other books in this series first (e.g., Judas Unchained and Pandora's Star). To this I cannot speak since I've not read those books. What I can tell you is that despite those rumblings, I didn't have any difficulty following the story in this book. I wasn't aware these were old characters, and I think that only speaks volumes that I wasn't confused and Mr. Hamilton was able to hold my attention.
This novel had everything: romance, politics, space ships, and monsters wrapped into a pseudo-science that I found rather credible. One con was the difficulty I had in getting my head wrapped around exactly which direction the author wanted to lead me. This had many different genre elements in it, which most of the time one can get away with in a science fiction novel, but not one I could really put my finger on. Aside from that, I thought The Abyss Beyond Dreams was a good book and I recommend it if you're a fan of space opera.