Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Temporal Void

I'm now 2 out of 3 books through Peter F Hamilton's SF Void trilogy. The Temporal Void was a lot of hard work.

The Void is an artificial universe created by aliens, into which humans have ventured to live the sweet life. Unfortunately when they get there, there's no technology and they live their lives like 18th century nomads. Not only that, they speak like them as well. Contradicting that, though, is the occasional introduction of futuristic tech that throws everything out of kilter. Why would this EVER happen in the 36th century? WHY? If you had the technology to travel from Earth into the Void to live in one of the planets inside it, why would you lose all that tech once you lived there?

The book's inclusion of magic added to the issue that this failed to fall in line with the SCIENCE FICTION genre it purports to fall under. It felt much more like a fantasy novel than its predecessor The Dreaming Void, with so much emphasis being placed on religion (the society depicted worship Ozzie, some kind of creator who allegedly actually existed in the backstory; the Skylord is an actual character that talks to people and advises them like an omnipotent being; they worship another Jesus-like absent character called The Lady, they fear Honious (hell); they use contemporary northern-English dialect like 'aught' (pronounced 'out') in the same paragraph as sentences with the verb shoved dramatically to the end (“Only in a nation where equality reins can this happen.”)

I've read a few SF novels in my time and a lot of them do feature ye-olde dialogue that should belong in the 18th century. Why? Even if you take away tech, would language also regress? Would behaviour? Christ, marriage as an institution is in decline right now in 2016. Do you really thing people are still going to get married 1500 years into the future? And even if you did, would you really need permission from the woman's father?

Another example of behaviour regressing- expelling bandits from a town rather than jailing or rehabilitating them, leaving them “out there” to attack anyone unlucky enough to be traveling between towns.

One minute the characters have ge-eagles- cyborg animals bred with linkup tech so that people can see through the eyes of these birds as they soar over the town- the next they're admitting they don't know what exists beyond the lands they currently occupy. If they have NO access to tech, how have they got these ge-eagles? Oh, and why are so many buildings made of wood? Do they have NO records of The Great Fire of London? And who the FUCK has a big brass pocket watch in the 35th century? ARRGH!

I've made so many notes about the lack of tech, but a lot of what annoys me is how society has gone backwards, not just science. Would you still have independent bakeries, or would you actually have the means to make bread in your own home? Or have one local shop that sells everything, like a Coop?

Characters have long, fancy names like Kristabel, which other characters refer to in full. You never hear her called Kris, or Edeard being called Ed. Not believable.

The bast parts of the novel for me were the parts away from the void- the sections featuring Paula Myo the investigator and Trobulum the physicist, and also a character called Mr Bovey, described as a 'multiple'- someone with one personality shared between numerous bodies. I loved the bionics- improvements to the human body to make people physically stronger and more athletic- and the memory cells, meaning that people could be “re-lifed” if they died with the cell intact. THAT is science fiction. Way too much of the novel was spent away from this, explaining very little of how the void's expansion affects the societies that live in nearby threatened worlds.

A slog to get through, and not what Science Fiction should be. Not a patch on The Dreaming Void. Next up, The Evolutionary Void, the final third in the trilogy. (My copy is signed by the author. Details here.)

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