NigHT WiTH­oUT sTars

Cur­tain falls on The Fall­ers

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 768 pages | Hard­back/ebook

Au­thor Peter F Hamil­ton Pub­lisher Macmil­lan

There are times when fran­chises be­come too packed with sto­ries. Think of the pre-re­boot Trek or – please don’t write in – the way the myth­i­cal has started to over­take any hu­man­sized drama in Doc­tor Who. With this sec­ond, con­clud­ing in­stal­ment of the Chron­i­cle Of The Fall­ers, Peter F Hamil­ton’s Com­mon­wealth se­quence may just be reach­ing a point where it’s sim­i­larly full.

That’s more of an ob­ser­va­tion than a crit­i­cism by the way, be­cause this is a fine book, the kind of epic space opera that Hamil­ton seems some­how to turn out ef­fort­lessly. Pick­ing up from events in The Abyss Beyond Dreams some years down the line, it de­tails a cri­sis on Bien­venido, a planet where the hu­man population is threat­ened by Fall­ers – shapeshift­ing aliens – but is mil­lions of light years from as­sis­tance. Worse, the shapeshifter apoca­lypse is nigh…

Or is it? While Bien­venido’s tech­nol­ogy base is lim­ited and its au­thor­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ment some­where be­tween mis­guided and cor­rupt, a mys­te­ri­ous fig­ure known as the War­rior An­gel is able to bring Com­mon­wealth tech­nol­ogy to bear against the aliens. Then a space­craft crash­lands on the planet car­ry­ing a baby. This is no or­di­nary child, though, but some­one who can save this dis­tant out­post of hu­man­ity.

We don’t want to say too much more for fear of too many spoil­ers but, after The Abyss… used sci­en­tist and in­dus­tri­al­ist Nigel Shel­don as a cen­tral char­ac­ter, this is a child we’ve met be­fore. And here, at least if Hamil­ton is to take the Com­mon­wealth books for­ward, may lie a prob­lem. It’s not just that this is now a fic­tional uni­verse stuffed with sto­ries, it’s that so many of these tales sit on the shoul­ders of very few cen­tral char­ac­ters. Jonathan Wright

A fic­tional uni­verse stuffed with sto­ries

The book’s so­ci­ety has a ’50s feel – Hamil­ton “wanted to kill the nos­tal­gia-forthe-rosy-past lie politi­cians ped­dle”.

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