The Reality Dysfunction: 1/3 (Night's Dawn Trilogy) Paperback – Unabridged, 7 Oct 2005
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The term "space opera" has evolved over the decades. Originally it meant "hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn, spaceship yarn" (Wilson Tucker), but since then it has come to be (slightly) less pejorative, encompassing any sci-fi action story on an interplanetary or interstellar scale. The Reality Dysfunction rests firmly in the space- opera camp with its intense starship combat, roguish space captains and raw frontier planets, but Peter Hamilton keeps the formula fresh and up-to-date with an infusion of "modern" science fiction technology. His universe is digitally and nanotechnologically savvy, which opens up plenty of possibilities for new perils and plot twists.
It is the late 26th century and humanity's thriving culture spans 200 planets. The usual squabbles and disagreements continue, but generally everyone gets along and lives well as humanity's outward expansion continues apace. On newly colonized Lalonde, though, a strange force emerges from the jungle, lobotomizing people and turning them into super-powered soldiers. At the same time, the story of Joshua Calvert emerges. He's the young captain of a trading ship, who innocently travels to Lalonde and becomes embroiled in the mysteries there. Both threads have plenty of action and exotic scenery. Peter Hamilton's descriptive prose, particularly in action sequences, is breathtaking (and scientifically accurate), creating a dramatic backdrop for a story where the stakes keep getting higher, the villains keep growing more evil and the heroes keep surviving--but only just. Space-opera fans will enjoy this deftly written and engaging novel. Those who feel they don't like the genre might give this example a try to see just how unhacky, ungrinding, sweet-smelling, and robust it can be. --Brooks Peck
Space is not the only void..See all Product description
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There's an extremely important chapter halfway through the book which describes the start of the 'Reality Dysfunction' but this moment is strangely under-described in comparison to everything else which is over-described. It's such a mind-bending, out-there concept, the book comes perilously close to imploding into all-out silliness.
It's fair to say his later sci-fi works were much more focused & finely-honed in comparison to the Night's Dawn trilogy (such as the superb Fallen Dragon or the CommonWealth saga).
But... he writes with such confidence it's easy to forgive the book's flaws, it's undeniably fun. Somewhere in here there is probably a 5-star book lurking, but as it is it falls a tad short.
Yes there are some minor flaws e.g. Mr Hamilton can be over descriptive at times and some of the characters from real life history were a bit cringy (IMO), but the sheer brilliance, vastness and complexity of the story totally makes up for that.
The story is set far out into the future when humanity have conquered the stars, and technology and biology are in many ways at one.
The characters throughout are an excellent bunch and are each very different. They all bring their own personality to the the fold. The character developments are some of the best I've had the pleasure of reading so far. My personal favourites from this first book are perhaps Joshua and the Tranquility habitat!
The story is epic and combines a lot of different genres and dynamics in a lot of different ways.
I will not reveal any spoilers but suffice it to say, there are strong elements of SciFi, horror, adventure, drama, comedy, and romance.
Another strong point is regarding the huge worlds and habitats (bitek) the story covers. Hamilton introduces these worlds and arenas in great imaginative details that's very pleasing to the eyes and imagination.
The many great concepts brought about in this book is superb. It gets you so drawn in and appreciative to be flipping the pages rapidly one after another.
I love the bitek, voidhawk, blackhawk, adamist and edernist ideas. There's so much potential there and Hamilton manages to walk a fine line in executing such ideas in a very well balanced manner. You never feel like these ideas are overdone or forced. The whole story flows along very nicely at a tremendous pace.
The book paces along to a very climactic ending, that just leaves you yearning for more.
The book does have a large cast of characters to follow, so its best I found to just make a note here and there of who's who, until you can get comfortable with everyone which can take a little time.
There are also a lot happening throughout the book with different story arcs and different characters, but overall its all written very well and quite easy to follow I found.
If you enjoy epic SciFi adventures then its a simple decision. Read this book!
I would say thay Hamilton is an incredibly talented story teller, and I am full of excitement in anticipation of what the next book in the series (The neutronium alchemist) will bring.