Liviu's Reviews > The Abyss Beyond Dreams

The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2014_release_read, genre-sf, read_2014, top_25_2014_novels

The Abyss Beyond Dreams (great and well deserved title given the content) is the first of a duology ending with Night Without Stars which I expect to advance the Commonwealth universe beyond the Evolutionary Void timeline, though for now we are still within it

High class sf combined with the Void magic like properties, an entertaining appearance from Paula Myo who helps Nigel (presumed gone with a colony fleet ~3000 AD but still in the Commonwealth semi-incognito in 3326 as per the blurb) manage a perfect heist (outside ANA borders obviously given who Paula Myo is) and get ***** to enhance the odds of success in his Void expedition (again per the blurb which is quite accurate as far as it goes)

Meantime (whatever that means obviously as the Void has its own time) inside the Void, Bienvenido already is a human planet about 3000 years old, with population descending from the Brandt colony ships (from about 500 years before in Commonwealth time as per above note about timelines) and the people there fight a continuous war against the local Fallers who are trapped also in the Void (we learn a lot about them as the book goes on and they are clearly set to be a powerful antagonist in future Commonwealth books if the author wants to write more)

A society with a mix of modern and magic - whatever tech that works plus the Void psychic capabilities - led by a corrupt aristocracy descended from the officers of the fleet of which The Captain (Philious, currently 77 - while their Advancer genes are slowly losing ground, people on Bienvenido still live longer than current humans) and his eldest son, The First Officer (sadistic villain Aothori), are at the top within a veneer of democracy in which the governing Citizen's Dawn party has no real political rivals

Heavily militarized due to the Fallers - huge eggs fall all the time from the strange forest like artifact in orbit and absorb humans and other animals, mimicking them perfectly - Bienvenido is resisting the Fallers relatively successfully for now, though there are dark rumors about Faller nests infiltrating cities.

Escaping from a close encounter with an egg as a green recruit - though losing one hand in the process and seeing his best friend from childhood ingested and becoming a Faller - lieutenant Slvasta is fanatical about fighting the Fallers in his province; very successful and attracting a large following from the regular soldiers who know their odds of surviving are the best under his command, he becomes an embarrassment to his lazy superiors so he is promoted to captain and shipped as regimental liaison to the capital Varlan.

Slvasta is still bugged by his last active mission where he was only partly successful as he eradicated the infestation but could not find the usual number of eggs and by an encounter with a strange trader and his entourage, trader who called himself by an unusual name - Nigel - and whom Slvasta proved that he was human by having him cut his finger (Faller blood is blue) but still suspected of having something to do with the missing eggs...

In the capital, Slvasta tries to change things and improve the odds of fighting the Fallers against bureaucratic obstacles, while being pulled into opposites by his friendship with a capable and less corrupt aristocratic officer and by his association with the humbler citizens too. Similarly he is pulled between a rich girl whom he would have a chance of marrying as she is only 5th daughter while Slavsta is something of a hero - marriage which would open him the path to ascension and eventually to lead a regiment or even more - and a humbler tax office girl whom he meets when he tries to find out more about "Nigel"...

And so it goes, lots of things happen, the novel is structured beautifully as it starts with a horror like chapter (quite relevant later too) in which the Fallers appear, followed by Nigel and Paula in the Commonwealth, then followed by Slvasta's odyssey and then things are pulled together masterfully

There is everything one wants in sf - great characters, mind bending stuff, adventure, politics, romance, revolution....

Just to give one example of the elements that make the book excellent, example that is not that spoilery - the Void has many odd properties compared to the regular universe (as we learned in the Void trilogy), however it needs internal consistency, so when even stranger things happen, the Void manufactures evidence of past things that actually never happened that way at least, or as Nigel puts it:

"That’s how the Void outside the loop attempts to balance the books and make the present correct, to neutralize the paradox.” He grinned savagely. “It’s like the old Creationists claiming God laid down the dinosaur fossils a few thousand years ago."

(only here it actually happened/s...)

The ending is awesome and quite surprising in many ways and while obviously requiring the announced sequel, it has enough closure to be fully satisfying - given the end of The Evolutionary Void we know what happens with the Void, and I was still quite surprised...

Overall just superb stuff, PFH in great form and a very balanced book between the sfnal human universe and the magic like Void with mostly new elements so no feeling of a retread of the Void trilogy or the original Commonwealth duology.

Top sf of the year so far
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Reading Progress

August 4, 2014 – Shelved
August 4, 2014 – Shelved as: wanted_books
August 25, 2014 – Started Reading
August 28, 2014 – Shelved as: 2014_release_read
August 28, 2014 – Shelved as: genre-sf
August 28, 2014 – Shelved as: read_2014
August 28, 2014 – Shelved as: top_25_2014_novels
August 28, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Benji (new)

Benji Glaab Nice review Liviu very detailed.

Sounds like a complex challenging read. Having not read any peter f Hamilton any suggestions on where to start? Favorites or books to avoid?

Liviu thank you for the comment - I love pretty much everything PFH has written (as adult sf goes) though some books can be overlong (Great North Road)

Night's Dawn and the original Commonwealth duology (Pandora Star - is probably his single best book) are good starting points if you have the time, while for the Void trilogy you really need those two (Commwonwealth)

Fallen Dragon is a good standalone but I thought the ending way too cute, while this one could be a good start as most background things are if not explained at least alluded to and the part of the novel on Bienvenido stands on its own

message 3: by Benji (new)

Benji Glaab Commonwealth it is. Abyss beyond dreams is set in the Commonwealth universe as well? I like the idea of an established series the author is still at work on. Tbh I haven't tried many stand alone novels.

Liviu Yes, Abyss is set in the Commonwealth Universe, though mostly within the Void and in parallel with the Void trilogy, so you can read it relatively independently, though of course reading the other 2+3 novels helps

message 5: by Benji (new)

Benji Glaab Right on thank you Liviu

message 6: by Kevin (new)

Kevin ya outta put 'spoiler alert' at the beginning of yer comment. i jes want to know if ya like the book not the cliff notes

message 7: by David (new) - added it

David Can this book be enjoyed if I've not read the other Commonwealth novels?

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