All posts by Elliott

Elliott lives on a tidal river in coastal Georgia, loves to fly, writes a bit, works in healthcare for the federal government, and is system administrator for the swiftpassage webs.

‘The Dreaming Void’ , by Peter F. Hamilton – A Review

February 1, 2011

Actually, I’m only WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE of finishing this interesting book, which was a gift from one of my daughters more than a year ago.

While worthy and, as I said, interesting in many ways, it was not for me a compelling read.  Hamilton is gifted but seems to write without any discipline with regard to outlining his story arcs in advance of writing, or if he does so, it is not set out for the reader in any clearly discernible way.

However, his gifts and strengths are evident, and lie in his imagination, and the scope of the palette on which he builds his yarns.  His weakness is in launching so many story lines at once and flitting between them willy-nilly, so that most readers would be at a loss as to what the hell is going on, overall. And this is exacerbated by the action being spread over thousands (or is it hundreds of thousands?) of light-years of real estate, and an indeterminate amount of time, which could be as few as several Earth months, or as many as several Earth years, if we only had a clue as to where Earth stood in this panoply.

Having reported that I’m close to finishing this major work,  I must also sadly add that I have NOT a CLUE as to how anything will ultimately turn out. After reading almost 700 pages, I will only be in a good position to set out in the second tome of this TRILOGY.  And, being a bit cynical, I despair of knowing any much more at the end of the second book, should I venture on.

The damnable part of it is, I might keep reading anyway!  Although there are few characters and story lines I much care about, there are some which do interest me. Those are well drawn, inspired in their characteristics and adventures, and might just keep me going.

The best I can say of this series is that it would make great television, as it is drawn from a superior imagination, but expresses no clear notion of where it is going so far.  New television dramas never seem to suffer as much from a want of long-term story arcs. As sci-fi “popcorn for the mind”, ‘The Dreaming Void’ is very good. Among the great sci-fi novel-series, so far it can only be an also-ran.

In line to vote with Exxon and BP…

It was brought home to me today that it has been more than a year since the dreadful Supreme Court decision, ‘Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission’.  A one-time friend from my youth whose present wrongheadedness in most things political does not border on, but rather EXCEEDS the utterly maniacal, took advantage, in a recent exchange, of gloating on the fact.

In trying to understand his position it occurred me that he had never in his adult life worked for anything but major corporations. I grimly predict that a day may arrive when his masters put him out to pasture, social security and medicare gutted, and his pension stolen outright, which might alter his views somewhat. Or not. His views are mighty extreme.

If you are groping here a bit as to what that Supreme Court case was about, here are the broad strokes. The five Republican judges appointed by Geo. W Bush carried a majority opinion that corporations should have the same freedom as individuals to practice “free speech”, which includes the freedom to unlimited investment of corporate assets and monies on political campaigns. It does not matter that the ownership of such corporations may be primarily foreign, or antithetical to what is best for our society at large, but only that they be licensed on United States soil.

Nor does it matter that, unlike individuals, they can never be held accountable for crimes against society in any meaningful way. You can’t incarcerate BP, as much as you may want to at times. But BP can certainly spend the dollars it takes to buy the election of your next senator or congressman, without regard to its lack of safety in its business practices.

None of this is particularly cheerful to contemplate.

My reply to my former friend included a caution that a populace disenfranchised from meaningful involvement in the selection of its government has an annoying tendency  of rising up, sooner or later. I further expressed my hope that this would not become necessary. The news from Cairo sounds just awful.

There are people who say it will take an amendment to the constitution to right this situation. Let’s start thinking about that instead!

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