Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Dream a little dream [First impressions: The Temporal Void]

This is an early update - it will be centuries before my descendents finally reach the end of this novel. Set centuries after the events of the Commonwealth novels, The Temporal Void is the sequel to The Dreaming Void and there will eventually be a third book. I hesitate to call this a trilogy though.

The archetypal fantasy trilogy is the Lord of the Rings, and this illustrates the point that the three parts of a trilogy, while they tell a coherent whole story, should still be separate novels with their own very different flavours. TTV simply carries on from TDV as if you had turned the page - there’s no compromise or even recap, and nothing to suggest a specific plot focus for this novel. It’s as if the author actually wrote a single, 2500 page novel, which has been simply cut into three parts to facilitate packaging.

Having said that, more of a good thing is sometimes still a good thing. The Void storyline continues in two parts – the story outside the Void of complex, multi-stranded interstellar politics, and the Discworld-esque story inside the void. Interestingly, while the outside world is full of sci-fi trappings – wormholes, augmented humanity, clones, spaceships and aliens and planet-eating weaponry, there’s no attempt to make the science coherent or plausible so it might as well be fantasy.

Inside the void, technology doesn’t seem to work and instead magic rules supreme – but it’s a simple magic, and most of it comes down to a single ability, telekinesis – for example the ability to shoot fire is explained by the ability to telekinetically spin up a cylinder of air. So despite the fantasy language this plot strand is much more sci-fi.

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