The Naked God by Peter F Hamilton

Epic in scale, thought-provoking in content, operatic in its stage.
The Naked God book cover

Book of the Year 1999 (see all)

Having read all three parts to this sci-fi trilogy over the course of a single week it left me breathless with the sheer scale of the author's achievement. Epic in scale, thought-provoking in content, operatic in its stage, this is a trilogy that rightly lays claim to Peter F Hamilton's being cited as Britain's best sci-fi writer.

Whilst the levels of social engineering are complex if you strip it all away the premise is simple: What would happen if humankind discovered irrefutably that death was not the final state and how would we react to both that fact and dealing with the returning souls of our past?

Hamilton's ability to provide us with a future vision of humanity that retains our darkest fears and greatest frailties coupled with his skill in provisioning us with realistic future technologies and social development is akin to the visionary writings of Asimov and Clarke.

The main players of this space opera are numerous, but, as we follow the Han Solo-esque Joshua Calvert who's rakish panache secures the love of two utterly different and complex women - the great Tranquillity Lord of Ruin, Ione Saldana and the rural innocence that belies the steel of Louise Kavanagh - we find ourselves rushing from epic interstellar space wars to apocalyptic rituals, from heady sensuality to hard-nosed science, from alien societies to human grasping with a deft turn of the page that means Hamilton's work is not just to be lauded for its sheer scale, but also his ability to create a story full of pathos and danger, humanity and darkness. His exploration of the afterlife, his brilliant creation of Al Capone's return to the universe and all it encapsulates, his creation of Edenism, of the void/black/hellhawks, of nanonics, of everything that makes a human galactic presence function asks questions and gives plausible answers that not only make this a brilliant story but a thought-provoking one.

You may get to the final words of this and disagree on the ending, or crave more, but, like it or loathe it, its creator can be proud of his creation because it is quite simply stunning.

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