Book Review – The Reality Dysfunction Part 1: Emergence

realitydysfunction1The Reality Dysfunction Part 1: Emergence is the first part of the first book in the Night’s Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton.  Both parts are available as one book, though Warner Books published each of the books in 2 parts.  This is the review for the first part of The Reality Dysfunction.

This book opens the expansive trilogy with a bang.  It has not only impressed me, it has shown exactly how world building should be done.  This is probably the best example of world building I’ve read.  In science fiction and fantasy, the author has a world to create.  Hamilton not only created vibrant and wonderfully portrayed planets, but he has created an entire confederation of planets that spans a few hundred light years.  I have a feeling that I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg with this book.  There are hundreds of colonies to explore, though there are only 3 books in the series.  Much of the book takes place on the planet Lalonde, which is a newer colony, and shows how much of an undertaking it is to establish a colony world. It’s also a pretty unique world.  Norfolk is another intriguing world with its old English charm.  Tranquility is a vast, hollow living world created through genetic engineering.  Faster than light travel is commonplace, allowing starships to traverse the Confederation in weeks.

The cast of characters is huge.  There are a lot of names to learn, and it can be difficult to keep many of them straight.  However, the important players aren’t hard to forget.  It seems that many of the major characters, Joshua Calvert, Ione Saldana, Quinn Dexter, and Syrinx are all bound to have a common destiny.  Their stories are all told separately at first, but of course, they all come together in some way or another.  As the story isn’t finished, there’s still a lot to see.  The characters are very well developed.  There are no completely good or bad characters.  You may think so in some cases, but I’ve noticed there are instances of grey areas for each of them.  Joshua is a bit of a jerk at times, but I can’t help but like him.  Ione is a very interesting character who has a lot of responsibility, but is so young.  Quinn is the major antagonist, though it’ll be interesting to see how his story turns out.  Syrinx is an Edenist, a person who has embraced affinity, the ability to telepathically communicate with others of their society, as well as their genetically engineered starships, the Voidhawks.

As I mentioned before, this is part 1 of a book, so I have yet to see the end.  As of this moment, I’m only halfway through the story.  However, the amazing complexity of the story has shown me many surprises.  It is quite unpredictable.  I have no idea where it’s going, and I had no idea what the major complication was going to be, which came as a complete surprise.  There are many stories in one here, but they’re all important parts of the whole.  This I have yet to see, though.  There are some aspects that have been shown early on, but I have no idea what they have to do with the plot.  That will likely become apparent in part 2.

With its incredible complexity, extremely well-developed characters, and amazing universe, The Reality Dysfunction has impressed me very much, so far.  Hamilton may be one of the best science fiction authors.

I must give this 5 stars out of 5.  It is that good! Recommended for space opera fans and those who love world building.  You won’t regret it.

12 thoughts on “Book Review – The Reality Dysfunction Part 1: Emergence”

  1. Yep, I’ll echo Susan. Has the gangster turned up yet? I forget when that happens exactly. Been about a decade since I read it. It’s very good. ‘Immersive’ I believe is the term.

    Which edition are you reading? I saw him doing a reading for The Naked God and he said when they first split TRD for the American market they forgot to include a chapter in the middle. Might want to check that when you pick up the second half. On the upside (for me) I have a signed first edition of TNG, which is apparently quite rare because it was such a large book so many of the things just broke 🙂

    1. I’m reading the American edition. No gangster yet, so must be part 2. When I start reading the second half, I’ll check if there’s a missing chapter. Hope not.

  2. I haven’t read any of Hamilton’s work but have heard good things. How accessible do you feel the writing is in terms of ‘hard’ vs ‘soft’ science fiction?

    Sounds like a really great book. I like good world building and there are some authors who do it so incredibly well, working the details into the plot of the story in a way that makes the world come alive. Do you plan on going right into the next one?

    1. This is definitely hard sci-fi. Hamilton is very descriptive with technology and biology, as well as the environments on each planet.

      I’ll be reading The Silmarillion next, so it’ll be a while until I get to part 2.

      1. The Silmarillion is very good. It is a dense book and some find it dry but I personally like it even better than Lord of the Rings and I am a big fan of that book.

        1. I understand it’s kind of like a history book. But that’s fine by me. I think it should be interesting. I’m also a big fan of Lord of the Rings.

          1. It is very much like a history book. The first section is a creative Genesis-style creation story and then the rest is like a cursory historical overview of the various ages. Full of all kinds of great detail that makes you wish Tolkien had then had time to write fuller stories about each section.

            1. From what I understand, he used much of this as a reference for himself while writing the books. Kind of like background information. But he also worked on it long after he finished Lord of the Rings, always intending to publish it.

            2. Yes, I think this was his real baby, the project closest to his heart. I’m so glad his son was able to get it published after his death. I can’t imagine all this work sitting unread in some box somewhere.

            3. Yes, he sounded very enthusiastic about it in his letter to the publisher at the beginning of The Silmarillion. He worked so much on it. Such a rich world he created.

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