Science fiction and spirituality: the Void Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton [Part 1]

My most recent appearance on FantaScientificast (Italian podcast dedicated to science fiction) with “Life On Mars?” dates back to November. And as usual I am to repeat the topic in an in-depth post on my blog.
As you can infer from the title, or by listening to the podcast, the topic is the Void trilogy by British author Peter F. Hamilton. Since it is a topic that is very dear to me, because Hamilton is one of my favourite authors, and there is definitely a lot to say, I decided to dedicate a series of three posts to it.


General information about the books in the series

The Void Trilogy is a series by British science fiction author Peter F. Hamilton and
it is included in the same universe of the Commonwealth saga, which includes two other books: “Pandora’s Star” and “Judas Unchained”. The first book of the trilogy is set chronologically 1200 years after the last one of these two books. The plot often refers to this saga, but not reading it does not compromise the understanding of the trilogy.

The series obviously includes three books, whose titles are:
The Dreaming Void” (2007)
The Temporal Void” (2008)
The Evolutionary Void” (2010)

My reading of the books date back to 2010, when the first one was released in Italian and the last one into English. A little because the translation had not particularly pleased me (mainly because of the astronomical number of typos) and a little because I didn’t want to wait, after reading “The Dreaming Void, I finished reading the trilogy in the original language.

In addition, the plot, which is very complex and rich of characters, is seamless, then waiting between a book and the other involves the risk of forgetting everything or nearly so. There are even important characters that appear for the first time towards the end of the first book, which ends with a discrete cliffhanger.

The whole Commonwealth saga (including the trilogy) is available as ebook on Amazon, like many other books by this author. Moreover, all Hamilton’s books are available on Amazon in paperback.


Backstory

The story is set in the thirty-sixth century.
The Void is a kind of self-contained universe that is at the centre of the galaxy and is studies for millions of years by aliens called Raiels. They believe it is a threat to life in the galaxy because of its sporadic phases of expansion, which devour whole solar systems close to the core of the galaxy. One of these events occurred several hundred thousand years ago, which prompted the Raiels to create a class of interstellar spaceships called High Angel with the aim to rescue sentient civilizations in the event of a new expansion. The caste of Raiel warriors serves to protect the Void from any intrusion by other living beings in the galaxy, because they fear that this could trigger a further expansion.
The Void, however, isn’t a natural system. Inside it there is a strange universe with physical laws different from those we know.

In 3589 a human being, called Inigo, began to dream of a wonderful life inside the Void. His dreams were transmitted to the rest of humanity through the Gaia Field, a kind of emotion social network, made possible in enhanced humans  containing a chip in their brain. This also allows you to store your thoughts and offers a series of advantages, including real-time connection to the network (Unisphere), communication, downloading of applications, concepts and so on.

Many humans are enhanced and live for hundreds of years. Their thoughts, their essence, consciousness, can be stored in servers, in case they die and a clone is created in which upload it. In practice, one never dies, so much so that after a long life humans decide to abandon the physical life to download their consciousness into the so-called ANA (Advanced Neural Activity), a kind of huge collector of these virtual beings, where they continue to live as thought, and which has become the government of the Commonwealth, in other words, of humanity.

Inigo’s dreams gather around him a large group of believers, who over time constitute a religion, the Living Dream and revere the protagonist of these dreams (Edeard). These believers live in a planet where they recreated the pattern of life, and even the city (Makkathran 2), which they saw in Inigo’s dreams. They are, in fact, set on a planet inside the Void called Querencia.
These believers are fanatics who want to organize a pilgrimage into the Void  to live the life that was shown to them. But the Raiels and other species (including other humans) fear that their migration, which they are certain will lead to their death, might lead to a further expansion of the Void. So they ready to stop this pilgrimage at any cost.

This is just the background from which the story takes place within the trilogy. In reading the plot some religious and spiritual elements are immediately noticeable, which occur frequently in space opera, but I intend to analyse them one by one in the next post in this series, and also to show how the author plays with these easily recognizable themes, and then bring they all to his very rational view of reality.