Joelene Pynnonen

Joelene Pynnonen embraces the life of an avid book lover in every way. Her household is ruled cruelly by a wrathful cat; and should a fire ever start it is doubtful that she would make it past the elegant stacks of novels to her room door. At least once a year she coerces her mother into watching the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice with her, and will often follow up by re-reading the book.

 

tarr_forgotten sunsThe planet of Nevermore has been empty – seemingly abandoned by its previously vast population for thousands of years. For Aisha’s archaeologist parents, this is a mystery that needs to be solved – if only they can scrape together the funding for it. Unfortunately, resources for such expeditions are low and, when it looks as though Aisha and her family will be forced to leave Nevermore, Aisha sets off an exploration, hoping to find a treasure worth keeping the expedition funded.

What she does instead is unleash an ancient being, put to sleep six thousand years ago when he became too volatile to manage. Everything about his world has changed since he went to sleep, and all he wants is to find out why. If he is to be loosed on the unsuspecting world, however, Aisha cannot let him go alone.

Khalida is trying to recover from the horrors she has seen and inflicted during her years at war. She’s not doing a particularly good job of it, but when orders come through, calling her back to the precise battle that she had tried to end, she has no choice but to follow. Her niece, Aisha, and Rama, the unbelievably powerful being that Aisha released, are along for the ride – whether Khalida wishes it or not.

As promised in the Kickstarter campaign funding this novel, Forgotten Suns is a rip-roaring adventure in the guise of a space opera. Like any adventure, there is a great journey – though this one spans universes, not just worlds. The world of Forgotten Suns is intricately and tightly woven. Not purely sci-fi, it delves into fantasy at times, seamlessly melding the two genres.

While the mystery at the centre of the story concerns Nevermore, the abandoned planet, and Rama, the ancient being that Aisha awakens, there are other storylines going on that are much more interesting. Khalida’s broken mind and her struggle to keep herself alive, the Psycorps relationship to Military Intelligence, and how it affects the planets they exploit are storylines that are not explored as well as they could be. Much of the issue is that Rama is too powerful for this novel. Any conflict that arises he is too easily able to quash. Psycorps is a genuinely scary organisation and has the potential to be a serious threat, except for Rama’s abilities.

The world of Forgotten Suns is as richly imagined as any space opera should be. Rather than imagining a white-washed future, it delves into a universe diverse in race, sex and sexuality.

Forgotten Suns is a futuristic journey of discovery spanning not only universes but dimensions. Vividly imaginative and almost poetic in metaphorical description, it’s the novel for any aficionado of space opera.

Forgotten Suns – Judith Tarr

Book View Café (April 21, 2015)

ISBN: 9781611384772

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an Australian science fiction writer who lives Sydney. He has a keen interest in the cyberpunk genre and Japan.

Hamilton-abyssThe works of Peter F Hamilton are epic tomes, dense with plot and character, rife with intrigue and complex stories within stories, and among them The Abyss Beyond Dreams is easily one of the most fulfilling novels of the last year.

Building from his earlier works of the Commonwealth and Void sagas, Hamilton subverts convention by folding genres in this newest tale, wrapping space opera within a tale of survival within what could be considered Revolution 101.

Nigel Sheldon, thousand year old entrepreneur and part founder of the galaxy spanning Commonwealth, is approached by the mysterious guardians of the system-engulfing void to solve a quandary: how could the survivors of a fleet of ships, consumed by the void centuries prior, be living on within the blackness as a three millennia old civilization? And more importantly: how can the void be prevented from consuming any more of the galaxy within its abyssal pocket universe?

Within the void, civilization has prospered under the tyrannical rule of the long crashed colony fleet. In constant fear of the cannibalistic alien mimics, the Fallers, life is difficult for those trying to protect the human population of the void-stricken planet where advanced technology quickly falters and is replaced with powers of telepathy and telekinesis.

Narrative and character development stand strong in The Abyss Beyond Dreams, switching frequently between Nigel, ex-regimental officer Slvasta driven by thoughts of revenge and revolution against the creatures and bureaucracy that resulted in him losing an arm and friends to the Fallers, and the young and spirited Kysandra, rescued by Nigel just before she was sold to repay debts and gifted with knowledge of the outside universe.

Split into six books, each cataloguing a period within the chain of events originating with the first landing within the void, Hamilton has managed to avoid the sluggish pace that often accompanies novels of this length. Action fires at an often erratic pace, with periods of world building broken by sporadic intrigue and conflict, but never detracting from the story as a whole.

The Abyss Beyond Dreams is an inspired and complex web of a novel with each interaction guiding readers to possible conclusions before sudden revelations twist the story into further peaks and troughs. That being said, Hamilton has not simply relied on Deus Ex Machina to resolve his narrative; in fact, the characters themselves are often the impetus of sudden change. Readers not daunted by the size of the novel will find this a solid and satisfying read as Hamilton’s, often intense, writing style rewards the dedicated reader with plots-within-plots, and well developed characters.

The Abyss Beyond Dreams is a novel that went far beyond my expectations. Whether you’re a newcomer, or a dedicated Hamilton reader, this novel stands on its own story and will satisfy even the most critical science fiction fan.

 

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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