The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton
Bienvenido is a planet located in the Void, a mysterious area at the centre of the galaxy, where technology does not function, and the inhabitants are imbued with telepathic and telekinetic powers. The population of Bienvenido is decended from the crew of a Commonwealth ship, which entered the Void thousands of years previously and crash landed on the planet when it’s technological systems ceased to function.
In this follow-up to the author’s Void trilogy, which is set before the events related in the Void books, we follow Slvasta, an army officer on Bienvenido, as he ferments a revolution against the corrupt, aristocratic government, whilst also fighting the Fallers, a race of body-snatching aliens, who plague the planet.
Meanwhile, Nigel Sheldon, inventor of wormhole technology, who we were introduced to in the author’s Commonwealth Saga novels, travels into the Void in order to investigate the city of Makkathran, on the planet Querencia, but ends up crash landing on Bienvenido, where he joins forces with Slvasta, and uses his superior knowledge and technology to manipulate events to his advantage.
I found The Abyss Beyond Dreams to be a slightly disappointing return to the Void universe. Despite the introduction of the canibalistic, body-snatching Fallers, with the character of Slvasta we are presented with essentially the same story as Edeard in the Void trilogy — country boy makes good in the big city, and fights a corrupt, aristocratic establishment. I was hoping for more originality, but we also get basically the same setting as in the Void books — aristocratic planetary government, genetically modified animals used as servants, nineteenth century level of technology, similar religious belief system. Considering the story is set on a different planet, I would have hoped for a more distinctive bit of world-building, even if we are still in the Void.
The story of Slvasta’s revolution was also a disappointment. Despite spending a good deal of the book setting up the infrastructure of revolutionary cells, the event itself was over in a couple of days, with seemingly very little opposition or setbacks. It just didn’t seem real.
Overall, an average read which disappointed in several areas. Not bad, but nothing award worthy.
The book is the first of a planned duology, The Chronicle of the Fallers, and can be read with no prior knowledge of the Void universe, but I would recommend reading the author’s Commonwealth Saga and the Void trilogy first to get the most out of it, as various characters and events from those previous books either appear or are referenced in Abyss.