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I'd seen this paperback hanging around the offer shelves of high street bookshops for some time and wasn't exactly impressed by its rather cheesy cover that had me thinking that it would either be a terrible work of pulp fiction of a masterwork of science fiction. As it turns out, it's closer to the first than the second, but the old maxim of not judging a book by its cover applies.
In 'The Dreaming Void', Hamilton strings together a slew of narratives largely divided between the universe outside 'the void' - an artificially created universe created by an alien race where entry is forbidden and the known galaxy.
The galaxy we are introduced to is high tech parable of excess, greed and science run amok. The dreams of the mysterious Inigo inspire a religious movement that seeks to enter the void and Hamilton describes the tensions between various factions who either support their goal, or think that it will lead to the end of the galaxy and oppose them (with force!)
The void, on the other hand, is introduced through a series of exciting, yet more pastoral visions and the depictions of the life and experiences of a young man named Edeard hint at the possibility of a more meaningful experience where biology and science seem to co-exist. Edeard blooms throughout the book from a talented misfit to someone altogether more powerful and as the book reaches its climax it seems that the existence of the void and the existence of the known galaxy cannot help but be drawn into some sort of contact.
Unfortunately for us, much of this contact (and excuse the pun) is experienced through the dreams of a young woman, Araminta, during various stages of highly imaginative futuristic coitus. Sex with individuals, sex with groups, sex with all races and ages, sex in her own imagination. You get the picture. Beyond the initial sense of titillation at Hamilton's attempts to tastefully describe a load of high tech multicultural sex in space, the motif quickly becomes tedious and you can't help but feel that this reads a bit like literary soft porn for teenagers. John Donne and Keats could tastefully describe an orgasm almost 400 years ago - why can't we do it now? Some of the sex scenes in here are so bad they deserve an award..
A somewhat predictable futuristic thriller, with the promising addition of a narrative split between genres. Somewhat ruined for me by decreasingly imaginative copulation.
It gets 3 stars, as 2.5 wasn't an option.