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The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton
Review by Mel Jacob
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345496553
Date: 24 March 2009 List Price $28.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Peter Hamilton's sprawling The Temporal Void follows in the path of the mega science fiction novels that feature a diverse cast of characters with various adventures and misadventures. Larry Niven and more recently David Brin have shown the way. The Temporal Void mixes hard science with fantasy. In the far future, Hamilton's Commonwealth worlds' political forces strive to change the fabric of human nature. Bionic enhancement has become common especially for security forces.

Constable Edeard lives on a planet within the Void and struggles to adapt to the city of Makkathran and rid it of criminal elements. We follow his adventures via the dreams of Inigo, the First Dreamer. Hamilton reveals via Inigo Edeard's progress and eventual fate although he survives in the Temporal Void. He tries to do the right thing, but adopts the philosophy, as do others, that sometimes they must do the wrong thing to achieve their goals.

Humans cannot contact the Void except via a Dreamer or when the Skylords permit a human to enter it. The Living Dreamers treat it as heaven and seek to migrate there en mass, thus setting off possible war with an alien species who fear the incursion and will stop at nothing to destroy such a fleet.

When a Second Dreamer appears, the situation grows more complicated. Inigo has hidden himself, and Living Dreamers now seek the Second Dreamer to gain entry to the Void because only the Dreamers can reach the Skylords. Meanwhile, the Void devours the edges of the galaxy and some fear it will destroy all Commonwealth and alien worlds.

Agents of the ANA Commonwealth government track members of the Accelerators. This faction wants to change human evolution. Old enemies, bionically enhanced and re-lifed many times, battle and destroy ships and worlds in the process. The Accelerators obtain the memories of criminals imprisoned by the Commonwealth and re-life them without detection. This faction plans to transform the Living Dreamers armada to create new humans.

Plenty of action keeps the reader turning pages. Some may not like the constant shifting between various characters, but it keeps the momentum high. Occasional inconsistencies and loose ends occur. The lucid writing serves the narrative. Sometimes the advanced science borders on fantasy, but avoids fancy language.

Peter Hamilton's first Commonwealth novel, Misspent Youth, appeared in 2002. The Temporal Void is the second novel in the planned Void trilogy, the first, The Dreaming Void appeared in 2007, and the third, the Evolutionary Void, is currently planned for 2010. The Temporal Void carries on the story from The Dreaming Void, but can be read as a stand-alone, although hints dropped throughout make clear the story has not come to a conclusion yet.

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