Science fiction and spirituality: the Void Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton [Part 3]

And here we come to the final post of the series of articles dedicated to the Void Trilogy by British author Peter F. Hamilton and anticipated by my appearance on (an Italian podcast) in November.
In the first post I have briefly outlined the books of the trilogy, and I told you about the backstory. In the second one, however, I focused on the religious and spiritual aspects inside the story, analysing some of them and highlighting as the author loves starting from these issues and then reduces everything to material terms.
In this last post I finally express my comment on this author.

Peter F. Hamilton is without a doubt one of my favourite authors. He has become so when I read the Void Trilogy. He is so, first of all, because he writes complex stories with different reading levels. Spirituality is only one of them, which can be safely ignored by the reader who isn’t interested in this kind of topics, because the skill of this author, in my opinion, is given by his ability to measure the various elements in his books, so that none of them is too intrusive. And so Hamilton’s novels are able to satisfy the science fiction fan who prefers, for example, action, or the socio-political aspect, also typical of space opera, or even that relating to the use of virtual reality, the deepening of the characters, who are always very well characterised also by the emotional point of view, and so on.

To tell you the truth, some consider him a bit verbose, on the other hand we are talking about an author who hardly writes novels under 600 pages. The length of his stories doesn’t only concerns the complexity of the plot, which in itself would be enough, but also the expanded way in which he narrates certain scenes, often focusing on long dialogues or details of the action, giving the impression of a certain slowing of time during their development.
A trivial example would be a scene where a character opens a door and shoots; Hamilton is able to show the train of thoughts passing through the mind of the person concerned in that split second, but also the mental, physical and technological process of the performed act. This characteristic has the advantage of allowing him to really show us the scene, making us almost feel part of the book, especially when what he is telling us goes far beyond common imagination.

Many passages of the Void Trilogy take place in the minds of human enhanced beings that within an instant see icons, activate virtual processes, recall applications, communicate via the Unisphere and so on. These are acts that cannot be transferred to images, for example, a film adaptation would be impossible, but through his words, the author slows down action managing to make us understand all these details, which in a short time our imagination can handle with ease, without affecting negatively the suspension of disbelief.

I found myself several times reading these long scenes and having fun doing it and at the same time suffering for my curiosity to know what would happen next, a “next” which was late to come. And it ended up with me reading dozens of pages without even realizing it. And so his books with chapters with an average of 100 pages and this trilogy that exceeds 2500 pages are read in a shorter time than you might think.

Beside that, what I like about him is the ability to imagine new scenarios, mix known elements of science
fiction with very original ideas, and to really put much stuff in his books, able to open up your mind and inspire even those who write science fiction, like me. And Hamilton was very inspiring to me in the novels I’ve written until now, including the unpublished ones, even non-science fiction ones. In addition to some ideas which I admit I borrowed (after all writing is always a bit characterised by copying, sometimes unintentionally, and reworking the ideas of others), reading his books taught me not to be hasty in bringing the scenes to completion, to stop to analyse the details, emotional, sensory ones, or relating to the reasoning, in order to better show the action to the reader, in the hope to involve them as much as possible. By doing so, I found myself feeling more involved in the scenes I wrote and, I think, having a vague idea of how Hamilton himself may have fun to design and create such complex narratives.

Then I must say that this author doesn’t hold back before controversial issues in his stories, certainly suitable only for adult audiences. In Hamilton’s novels you usually find sex, narrated in the most varied situation, and decidedly alternative concepts of family (polygamy, sexual and romantic relationships with virtual entities, with more people of various kinds, with characters whose consciousness is shared by several bodies, whether they are real or virtual, etc ...), but everything is treated in a natural way, without any sense of forbidden, and this is just another of the reading levels that I referred to earlier that the reader can decide to neglect.

For me Hamilton was, in a sense, a revelation and has contributed a lot in increasing my love for science fiction, both as a reader and as a writer. One thing I always say is that if you read Hamilton and you survive, i.e. you can appreciate his novels in spite of their complexity and the excessive length of his works, then you can read pretty much everything. And I’m still convinced of that.
If you have never tried to read a book of his, I can only advise you to do so, perhaps even with the Void Trilogy. Then it will be all downhill!