Review: The Reality Dysfunction (Night’s Dawn #1) ~ Peter F. Hamilton

The reality dysfunctionIn AD 2600 the human race is finally beginning to realize its full potential. Hundreds of colonized planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature’s boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary spaceborn 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.” It is the nightmare which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history.

4 Thumbs-UpWhen most people think of English sci-fi writers the one that usually comes to mind is Douglas Adams as author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  However, after reading this first in an epic space trilogy that may all change.

To say this is not easy reading would be an accurate statement, but to say it is well worth reading would also be an accurate statement; this is a novel that demands a reader’s full attention and time so that they will fully appreciate all the layers and undercurrents that feature within its pages, of which there are over 1200.

In this book, and I have read the whole trilogy more than once, the Author takes the time to start developing the characters that will feature throughout the entire series.  With great attention to detail he places certain personality traits in the storyline at key points.  There is the evil genius, rebellious teenager and a bad boy turned good, which unfortunately make them appear like cookie cutter characters that one might read about in any book in this genre.  However, the main problem with this that I found was that it was very difficult to discover who, out of all the characters introduced, was the main protagonist.  Once discovered, he turns out to be the kind of character you will either instantly like or want him to be dealt a killing blow as quickly as possible.  I quite liked the quirkiness I found to be part of his personality and, rather than the cookie cutter I imagined he was destined to be for the remainder of the novel, he actually turned out to be quite fun.  What makes him fun may not be every reader’s ideal, but there was just something about his character that made him hard to dislike.

When it comes to the plot line some of the happenings may seem to hit a nerve, or give a feeling of déjà vu.  This is not because the Author has transplanted the idea from somewhere else, but rather that something else has borrowed an idea found in this book and adapted it to their use; think Farscape, Moya and Pilot  when reading this book and you will see to what I refer.  As with all sci-fi fantasy novels, this one provides a landscape in which the reader can let their imagination run riot; it doesn’t matter if at first glance some of the plot lines may appear unbelievable, put them in whatever context your imagination sees fit, and you will find they become believable.

For those readers who are offended by sex scenes in their reading material, there are some included in this book, but they are of such a nature that you could easily skim over them without losing the thread of the plot at all.  In fact, I felt that if these unnecessary scenes had been cut from the original book, not only would it have cut down the number of pages but also helped the flow of the storyline a little.  The main reason for my 4 thumbs rating, as much as I enjoyed this book, is that rather than space out some of the more brutal parts of this beginning epic, the Author crammed in as much torture and general exploitation in to the first half of the book as they possibly could and this was rather overwhelming at times.  There is so much more I want to bring to the attention of anyone who might be considering reading this book, but not only would it result in my revealing some pretty spectacular pieces of writing, but it would probably mean that this review would extend way beyond the usual space I allocate to these things.

With that said I would highly recommend this book, and the following two, to anyone who enjoys a great sci-fi epic and who may not have already read this.

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