How to Read a Peter F. Hamilton Book

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”

  1. @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.

  2. @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.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: