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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Reality Dysfunction - Emergence

Copyright 1996 by Peter F. Hamilton

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Superb (4/5)

I first read this on the 20th September 1997 and most recently on the 18th March 2002.

It's the 26th Century. Human civilisation has split into two major cultures: Adamists and Edenists. Edenists use "bitek", or biotechnology, to create artificial life. They build self-aware orbital habitats and spacecraft. Edenists are effectively immortal, they can live, even after the death of their physical bodies, by uploading their consciousness into these bitek constructs.

To the Adamists this is abhorrent. They believe this is a corruption of humanity and that artificial lifeforms and entities who survive physical death are soulless imitations of life.

The Confederation governs the Adamist civilisations, in some alliance with the Edenists, in a more or less enlightened manner.

Earth, reprising the British Empire's one-time policy, transports criminals to colony worlds to serve as temporary slaves to the colonists.

Quinn Dexter is a petty criminal and true-believer in the depraved Night's Brother religion. Betrayed by his gang boss and religious leader Banneth, he is transported to the primitive colony world Lalonde.

Dexter is determined that he will escape from Lalonde and enact his revenge on Banneth. To do that he'll need first to bend the other involuntary transportees to his will. He'll do that by instituting the depraved beliefs of his Night's Brother religion.

Gerald Skibbow and his wife Loren are looking forward to starting a new life as colonists on Lalonde, away from the dangerous and hopeless arcologies of Earth. Their beautiful but rebellious daughter Marie is less enthused, bitter that she's been dragged away from civilisation, fashion and cosmetics.

A passing alien makes a brief appearance, sufficient however to trigger cataclysmic events that the rest of this massive trilogy attempts to resolve.

On the Edenist habitat of Tranquility, Joshua Calvert, prospecting for lost alien technology in a ruined asteroid belt near Tranquillity, discovers an alien treasure.

Quinn Dexter's observance of the Night's Brother obscene and deadly rituals finally bears its corrupt fruit - he can recall dead souls to possess the bodies of the living, and these "possessed" have fearful, terrifying power.

This is the first of the two-part novel "The Reality Dysfunction" which is itself part one of "The Night's Dawn" trilogy.

Refer to "The Naked God", final volume of the trilogy, for my summation of this vast work.

By the way, it's a terrific read. The trilogy has got just about every sort of technology you can think of: nanotechnology, biotechnology, FTL, wormholes, artificial intelligence, telepathy, spirit realms, lasers, masers and stasis fields.

In the United Kingdom, this book and its sequel "The Reality Dysfunction - Expansion" are published as a single volume "The Reality Dysfunction".

Loaded on the 10th April 2002.
Cover of The Reality Dysfunction - Emergence
Cover by Don Puckey and Carol Russo