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The Reality Dysfunction (The Nights Dawn) by Peter F. Hamilton A Modern Classic Of Science Fiction This is space opera on an epic scale, with dozens of characters, hundreds of planets, universe-spanning plots, and settings that range from wooden huts and muddy villages to sentient starships and newborn suns. Its also the first part of a two-volume book that is itself the first book of a series. Theres no question that theres a lot going on here (too much to even begin to detail the plot), but Hamilton handles it all with an ease reminiscent of E. E. Doc Smith. The best way to describe it: its big, its good, and luckily theres plenty more on the way. Features: * Click here to view our Condition Guide and Shipping Prices The Reality Dysfunction is an imposing book, a massive 1,200 pages in length and itself only the first part of The Nights Dawn Trilogy (Books 2 and 3 are even longer). Part of the genius of The Reality Dysfunction is the way its huge number of characters and storylines seems to randomly ramble all over the place at the start, but towards the end of the book they come together most satisfyingly. In this trilogy, Hamilton has created what is certainly the most comprehensive futuristic society ever created. W ith Nights Dawn, Hamilton became SFs answer to Tolkien, building an immense space opera universe totally convincing in its solidarity. He has put huge amounts of thought into the politics, economics, religion, civil and military forces that make up the Confederation, and then seems to enjoy pointing out his own flaws (the economics of starflight in the Confederation seem questionable, and the author gleefully points that out, leaving the reader unsure if he has an answer or not or is just making them think he does). Whilst that solidarity is extremely impressive, it does give rise to accusations that Hamilton likes to info-dump. He has no problem with listing the dates for the founding of colony worlds or explaining how they achieved their techno-economic power in just a century. Personally I found such explanations fascinating, but other readers have reported they become wearying after a while. A central theme of the novel is that humanity will not fundamentally change in the future. The divisions between atheists and the religious faithful remain, and humans, at heart, seem to still be motivated by money and sex. Even the Edenists, who have flickers of post-Singularity, post-humans about them, seem to still be defined by their essential, recognisable humanity. The realism of this can be debated, but a central complaint of far-future SF, that humans have become so unrecognisable they are no longer particularly interesting, is averted here. Life in the 27th Century is very much like life in the 21st, only with better healthcare, longer lifespans and everyone seems to get laid a lot more. In fact, with the Confederation, Hamilton has achieved the near-impossible by creating a near-utopian civilisation which is not bland or dull, but still flawed enough to be interesting. His view of the future is essentially optimistic whilst not shying away from the nastier side of human nature, which is an impressive balancing act. The Reality Dysfunction lives and dies by its central characters: the evil Quinn Dexter, the roguish Joshua Calvert, the aloof Syrinx, the determined Marie Skibbow, the responsible Ione Saldana, the conflicted Father Horst Elwes and more. Theyre a fascinating bunch, by turns flawed but also convincing, sometimes corrupt but mostly relatable (with the possible exception of the insane Dexter). I notice that many readers seem to dislike the apparent hero Joshua (Han Solo, but without the morals), but this is perfectly in keeping with the authors intentions: he describes Joshua as a prat and states that the proper title for the trilogy is actually Joshuas Progress, the transformation of his character from self-obsessed, borderline-sexist egomaniac to a better person due to the experiences he encounters. Hamilton also delivers good space battle. The engage ments between his starships are built on real-life physics, and the idea that such fights would involve fighter craft is rejected in favour of more realistic unmanned drones that fight whilst the actual spacecraft are thousands of miles apart. The tactics of space combat are well-handled, as are the ground combat sequences featuring mercenaries and marines. There isnt really enough to qualify The Reality Dysfunction as military SF, but fans of that subgenre will nevertheless feel well-catered-for. Pacing wise, The Reality Dysfunction has to unfold smoothly in order to captivate the reader for such an immense length, not to mention to convince them to come back for two more, even larger books. To this end the book is divided into three roughly equal segments: introduction, rising action and counter-action. The introduction, which is more like a collection of short stories than a novel, shows us the Confederation, introduces the characters and outlines the main concepts of the story. After that, all hell breaks loose and the true threat is unleashed, investigated and (impartially) understood, with events building to a climax which, whilst not a cliffhanger, will nevertheless leave many readers on the edge of their seat, eager to move onto the second. The Reality Dysfunction has some things acting against it. Some people will think its too long, others that it has too much info-dumping or too many sex scenes, or that the entire exercise is just too confusing, with too many characters, planets or storylines to easily keep track of. Some people find the central premise of the reality dysfunction itself too unbelievable once it is revealed, and possibly out of keeping within an SF novel (although Hamilton does a surprisingly good job of explaining the situation in S F terms in the final novel of the series), although others absolutely love its unexpected nature: of all the twists in an SF novel to occur, I dont think Ive ever read anything on this scale before. For myself, I found the book stunningly well-paced and a ferocious page- turner, building up the most well-realised SF setting in the genres history with verve and aplomb. The Confederation is flawed and sometimes corrupt, but above all it is worth saving, unusual in a genre all-too-often dominated by dystopias that probably deserve to be annihilated. Hamilton also intelligently explores numerous questions in this book, from economics through to faith and religion. Whilst a conservative atheist (in the small-c sense), Hamilton is nevertheless fascinated by the merits and weaknesses of organised religion and its impact on morality and society, and in the Nights Dawn books he explores religion in space opera with more intelligence, fairness and understanding than any other SF writer bar possibly J. Michael Straczynski in his TV series, Babylon 5. The Reality Dysfunction (*****) is for my money one of the very best works of space opera ever written, right up there with Dune and Hyperion (not as well-written as either, but considerably more convincing), and easily the most comprehensive single-author SF setting ever conceived. As SF author and critic Colin Greenland said at the time, The Reality Dysfunction reads like fifty science fiction novels, each tackling a separate and fascinating subject, rolled into one gripping and cohesive whole. For More 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price: The Reality Dysfunction (The Nights Dawn) by Peter F. Hamilton - 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price!
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