There’s a new PFH book, Salvation, I’d like to get to reading. Before that, I have a tsundoku in iBooks. So now’s the time to read the Dreaming Void trilogy; these are sequels of sorts to Pandora’s Star (excellent book about a really horrible alien, read long ago), and Judas Unchained (remember less than nothing about it; did I even read it? Maybe I was drinking a lot).
But there comes the rub: You can’t just read a PFH doorstop. No, you need to study it, and take notes like a college class, because the concept of focusing on one protagonist and telling a linear story isn’t his thing. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to read, is his philosophy.
At 17% through The Dreaming Void, I have the following notes (in Apple Notes so I can edit them anywhere); probably SPOILER, but a good example of my process. For dead tree books I made longer notes on everyone, with page refs, but since you can search iBooks there’s no need anymore.
Dreaming Void Places, Reality Centurion Station: Near the Void Ellezelin: Living Dream planet, Makkathran2 city. Arevalo: Central Commonwealth planet, Higher. Daroca city. Far Away: Base of the Starflyer Lytham: Central world far from Earth Oronsay: External world 100LY from Central Fandola: Places, Void Querencia: Void planet Makkathran: Main city Ashwell: Smaller city Species Human: Higher, Advancer, Natural Prime, Starflyer: Mind-controlling aliens Anomine: Trapped the Prime Golant: Humanoid Ticoth: Predators, herds of prey Suline: Aquatic Ethox: ? Forleene: ? Kandra: ? Jadradesh: ? Raiel: Ancient, discovered the Void Ocisen: BEM. Opposed to Pilgrimage Hancher: Protected by Humans, enemies of Ocisen Groups Commonwealth: ANA: "Advanced Neural Activity", mind pool of dead Highers Free Market: External: People, Reality Ozzie & Nigel: wormhole inventors Inigo: First Dreamer LionWalker Eyre: director of Centurion Station Aaron: Blank on Makkathran2 Ethan: Conservator of Living Dream Lady, Bad News: ? Chief Cleric Phelim: Ethan's secretary Corrie-Lyn: Inigo's former lover Marius: ANA representative Troblum: Starflyer fanboy, Higher Mykala: Eoin: Yehudi: Kazimir Burnelli: First Admiral Delivery Man: Justine Burnelli: ANA representative Gore Burnelli: ANA, old boss Nelson Sheldon: ANA, security, Gore's co-conspirator Araminta: Waitress, Niks, Colwyn City People, Void Waterwalker: Entered the Void Skylord: ? Akeem: Eggshaper Edeard: Eggshaper apprentice Salrana: Priestess
2 thoughts on “How to Read a Peter F. Hamilton Book”
@devilgate No editor, or if so the editor shares PFH’s giant-conspiracy-wall-of-notes organization method. The stories are generally worth reading, he’s one of the best space opera writers, but they take twice as much effort as any other author.
@mdhughes OM god! I have the first Dreaming Void book on my shelves. But if it takes that much effort, you’ve put me off. I read the Night’s Dawn trilogy a few years ago, and I enjoyed it, but it took me an age, and I thought he really, really needed an editor. It sounds like he has not yet obtained one.
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