The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton is the first in Night's Dawn, a sweeping galactic trilogy from the master of space opera.
In AD 2600 the human race is finally realizing its full potential. Hundreds of colonized planets across the galaxy host a multitude of wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature's boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary space-born creatures.
Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive on the wealth created by the industrialization of entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space, the Confederation Navy keeps the peace. A true golden age is within our grasp.
But now something has gone catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet, a renegade criminal's chance encounter with an utterly alien entity unleashes the most primal of all our fears. An extinct race which inhabited the galaxy aeons ago called it the Reality Dysfunction, and it is the nightmare which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history.
The Reality Dysfunction is followed by The Neutronium Alchemist and The Naked God.
©2016 Peter F. Hamilton (P)2016 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
I have been waiting for these on the UK store for years now as they have been out in the USA for a while! But despite the wait the books are well worth it, an epic space drama story with gripping events and characters we all care about, a superb balance a possible tech, adult fun and hard science.
I tried, but the narration was so bad I had to give up! first book I've ever given up on and I listen to about 50 per year!
the story seems confusing, but this may be bacause I just struggled to concentrate. the narrator sounds so weird, like he is reading in a second language or this is the first time he has ever read out loud.
not for me. some other reviewers seem ok with it, so I would definitely recommend listening to a sample first!
Having recently finished Peter F Hamilton's superb Night Without Stars that
is so far the last book of his Commonwealth series which I thoroughly
enjoyed, I was unsure whether to dip into his other epic series of books,
the Night's Cross trilogy. Seeing that the book was some 41 hours in length,
I knew that this would indeed be an opening chapter in a trilogy of truly
epic proportions. A brief synopsis left me in a little doubt as to whether
the book was something I was even able to cope with and then seeing the
article on WIkkipedia about it, I felt a little unsure whether the apparent
complexity of this story would be enjoyed by me. Seeing the extended list of
key characters in the Wikki article put me in serious doubt but given
Hamilton's superb work with the Commonwealth saga, I figured I ought to try
the Reality Dysfunction .
As with other Hamilton stories, the reader is brought right into a world
where to begin with, they are somewhat confused about the terms readily
used. Things like "Affinity" and "Datavise" were terms that had no meaning
me initially given the sparse context but Hamilton tends to do this and let
the reader work it out rather than go into lengthy exposition. This can put
some off but a quick read of the aforementioned Wikki article may be a good
primer for this book.
Hamilton is an exceptional author and just reading his description of the
evolution of life on a world is indicative of the extent of his
understanding and knowledge of biology, ecology in addition to physics. He
weaves this knowledge into his books effortlessly which lends an air of real
credibility to much of the science that's used as a framework for the future
The Reality Dysfunction is basically a story about souls of the dead coming
back and infesting the bodies of the living. This process was made possible
the chance interaction of an alien life form unknown and unseen by the
public at large. Once this chance combination of devil worship and the
ability of the invisible alien to detect and manipulate energy, the doorway
had been opened. The "possessed" have various abilities that make life very
difficult for those trying to combat them and so the stage is set for the
premise of our story.
The stage in question, initially and primarily in this first book is a
primitive planet recently opened up for colonization by those less fortunate
souls that want to make a new life for themselves and have to do so in the
toughest and most primitive of conditions. One of the areas Hamilton excels
is in his vivid and highly detailed depictions of such alien worlds and
their flora and fauna. Time is taken to paint this richly detailed world and
its hapless inhabitants and it's this level of involvement and the sense
that this aspect is not rushed by the author that really adds depth and the
sense of immersion into this alien jungle world. Some authors fail to take
time to develop the platform onto which the narrative is written and so we
really are brought into the trials and tribulations of a group of colonists
trying to make a new life for themselves. Quite a bit of the first half of
the story is dedicated to this and the plight of the colonists and this
goes some way to account for the length of this mammoth book. Some might
find the fairly "slow burn" build phase rather too lengthy but if you're a
Hamilton fan then you will relish this aspect as I did.
However, The Reality Dysfunction is not perfect and I believe I can see how
Hamilton refined his art since writing these books back in the late 90's.
Where I think this story errs is in the very large number of primary and
secondary characters the reader is confronted with. I think at one time
during the book I made a mental count of some 28 but this only expanded
further as the story went on. I can see why Hamilton went this route as it
lent massive scope to his story but it could sometimes mean the reader was
left slightly confused at the mention of a name not heard of in many hours
or the difficulty trying to hold them all in your head. This is not a major
stumbling block but although Hamilton does like to have a large cast of
characters in his books, by the time he writes the Commonwealth saga, the
numbers have come down to more manageable levels.
In addition, the pace of the narrative slowed somewhat in the second half or
so as Hamilton brought sub plots into play such as the trade mission to the
planet Norfolk. Within the context of this first book certainly, I felt that
this entire section could've been excised without taking anything away from
the story. In fact, it would've kept the pace of the overall narrative
flowing faster. the other speed bump in the plot was Hamilton's tendency to
go off into far too much detail by providing lengthy back stories to a
couple of characters and places when those elements were only a tiny part of
the main story.
That minor niggle aside, The Reality Dysfunction is a superb story. What I
found interesting was the utter juxtaposition of the poorest colonists
living a hard life and meagre existence and the total hedonistic lifestyles
of the shallow that litter the story.
If you've not read a story by Peter F Hamilton before but like your science
fiction stories to be unhurried, richly detailed and immersive as well as
exciting and superbly written then this is the book for you. if this sounds
a little too heavy or lengthy then I would recommend stories by the
excellent B. V. Larson who's straightforward military-orientated novels are
very digestible and entertaining.
John Lee as ever provides crisp competent narration and is a welcome
consistency to Hamilton's major sagas like this one. I spotted what I
consider to be a minor editing glitch in the production of this story which
occurs during one characters first visit to Atlantis. A sentence or two can
be heard in broken parts before narration continues normally. Also, a
general production note, I find that the lack of any pause between switches
of scene or thread can cause some initial confusion. I seem to remember that
such things would often be dealt with in printed form by a notable gap
between paragraphs or even a series of spaced asterisks. I think the
production should insert longer pauses to help the listener realize that the
scene or thread has now shifted.
All in all, The Reality Dysfunction is a superb and satisfying read and I
look forward to the second in the trilogy.
I am clinging on to a feint grasp of a remote clue as to what is going on, and the narration; bloody awful. Why do all the peripheral characters have to sound like they're from Somerset? There must be better options for narration.And the story? well a collage of elements from previous books so far. Bit of this, bit of that. Unfortunately again made worse by the narration. Who decides these things? Bad decision.
Hell spaceships Technology
This story takes high-tech science fiction up to brink of the supernatural but doesn't fall over.
Yes, John Lee suits this kind of highly detailed book very well.
Space is hell
This whole trilogy is a romp. I read the paperbacks years ago and will be listening to the next two audio-books in the series. So please get the third one out asap.
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