Ossus Library Index
Science Fiction Index


A novel by Peter F. Hamilton
(2014, Del Rey Books)

The Chronicles of the Fallers, book 1

Inside the Void at the center of the galaxy, a human colony ship is stranded on a planet where technology doesn’t work, and dangerous alien eggs fall from the skies. Revolution is planned against the corrupt society, as one man tries to destroy the aliens at their source.


-- First reading (ebook)
June 8th to 20th, 2019


I love the way technology and mental powers are portrayed in this universe. Outside the Void, people can do incredible things with the advances humanity has made, while inside, moving things with telekinesis is normal. The story itself is rousing, from the mystery of the Fallers to the corrupt society that has grown up around the original colonists. While the book takes place before The Void series, I think it’s best to have read those books before coming here.

Spoiler review:

I keep meaning to go back in time to the first Commonwealth novels, but somehow haven’t done it yet. It might be a simpler time. But in a way, this novel does that, though it’s only by a few years. Abyss Beyond Dreams take place shortly before Inigo released all of his Dreams about Querencia and Makkathran, and the awesome events that Edeard went through. It still takes place in the Void, but on another planet. As Nigel says at one point, it’s the height of arrogance to assume they knew everything that was happening in the Void, that Querencia was the only planet inhabited by humans.

A group of colony ships trying to escape the Commonwealth gets diverted into the Void, where the Starlords guide them to three different planets. One was obviously Querencia. But the one we focus on in this book is Bienvenido. Laura, one of the scientists from a colony ship, was sent with her teammates to investigate a strange region where time seems to flow differently. They investigate the Forest, which rains eggs down onto the surface. The eggs made this look like it was going to be a horror book, but that only lasts for the first chapter, which admittedly is a long chapter. The impact of her escape from the Forest isn’t seen until the end of the book.

Most of the book takes place from the point of view of the revolutionaries on Bienvenido, three thousand years later. During this time, the spaceship landed, and their technology stopped working, as happens in the Void. We’ve seen this in the other Void novels. A power structure has evolved where the Captain has absolute authority, and this authority is passed down from father to son. As in so many medieval societies, the women are second class. The Captain’s son, for example, grabs young women from the streets and the University to do with as he pleases, in his aberrant sexual ways. There is a huge divide between the rich and the poor, which makes me wonder how the extra-galactic colony it originally intended would have evolved had the ships not been sent into the Void.

Slvasa starts out as a trooper, newly joined to hunt down the Faller eggs, the same eggs that took Laura’s companions in the Forest. They fall from the sky, as sinister colony establishments of their own, from a species that has adapted to ruthlessly take over any planet they encounter. I wonder, though, why Bienvenido isn’t covered in Faller creatures by the time the humans arrive. It’s said that the animals know that their copies aren’t real, and attack them viciously, so I suppose without intelligence they can’t gain a real foothold. But human copies are very intelligent, and they eat humans and try to grab more as new hosts.

On one of his first missions, Slvasa and his team are captured by a Faller nest. His commander is shot, his best friend is turned into a Faller, and he loses an arm after he’s stuck to a Faller egg but rescued in time. He returns to his barracks a hero, but determined to save the world from the Fallers and their command of the mods. Mods are similar to the ge-animals that are used on Querencia, derived from neuts, which turn out to be seeded by the Fallers. Mods are used by everyone on the planet, to make life easier, to do the jobs that nobody wants to do. Slvasa commands his own team, even with one arm, determined to make them the best. He’s then promoted (more to get him out of the regiment’s hair) to the capital city of Varlan, where he takes on more and more important jobs. But he is now unfulfilled, because he’s not fighting Fallers, nor doing anything about mods.

So he falls in with a group of poor students, who dream of revolution. One is Bethaneve, with whom he falls instantly in love. Others are Coulan and Javier, hard revolutionaries. Together, they explore the discontent in the city. When Slvasa’s best friend is killed in a riot, and blamed for the death of a young girl, Slvasa resigns, and takes on work in a meat stall. There, the revolution gains hold, as they organize a union and then create a democratic party to oppose the one officially sanctioned by the Captain. In their stages of rebellion, they stage a mod crisis, as they neuter all the neuts and finally slaughter the ones that roam the city. They create a cell network that can do their bidding without getting them implicated.

The defining moment of Slvasa’s life is when a new train of mods comes in from the outlying cities, and a hidden Faller takes control of all of them. The neut stampede kills many people, but it’s when they are about to stampede a school field trip that Slvasa takes a stand to protect them, and Bethaneve sends some cell members to help him. They use their teekay (telekenisis) and Slvasa’s revolver to stop the stampede, make people feel bad about running away and not helping, and bring in more help to stop the neuts and save the kids.

As with on Querencia, the people of Bienvenido have the ability to move things with their minds, and reach into each other’s thoughts, as well as projecting their thoughts and sending essentially live videos out to the masses. This is a cool effect of the Void, and it allows many interesting and fun things to happen within this society. The people have grown shells in their minds, like mental shields, to protect their thoughts. They can fuzz the area around them, like a cab or train car, so people can’t mentally see what’s beyond.

Eventually, Slvasa’s party is elected to a majority of their region, and he becomes their leader. Recognizing that he’s a threat, but also a public figure that can’t just be murdered, the Captain has him appointed to the regional board, where they hope to control him and make him personally responsible for the problems his people are causing. That backfires on them, as he obtains highly advanced weapons, which his cell members use as Slvasa announces his revolution for all to see and hear.

As Slvasa obtains the weapons, we learn of another plot that’s growing on Bienvenido, one that involves a member of the Commonwealth who has snuck into the Void with the hopes of destroying it. Nigel’s plan was to send his clone into the Void to Querencia, where the great city of Makkathran turns out to be a Raiel ship, one that was sent into the Void to destroy it many thousands of years ago. Nigel is sending his dreams to the original Nigel in the Commonwealth, but it’s a one-way path. Nigel designed his ship with components that they believed would still work in the Void, mostly biological agents, with three androids to help him. Unfortunately, he came to the wrong planet, and crashed there. In a way, that’s fortunate, because had he been able to study the planet for a while, he probably would have gone into the Forest just like Laura had, and been turned into a Faller on his own.

Nigel marries Kyssandra, but being over a thousand years old, he doesn’t want to treat her as a wife. Being barely seventeen at the time, he sends her off to explore relationships with people her own age, exploring her sexuality and romantic notions on her own. Nigel gives her all the Commonwealth abilities that he’s able in the Void, which includes a complete history of the Commonwealth, and the ability to see things and communicate with Nigel using different abilities than the others have. He builds a research station at her old farmhouse, including tests done on Faller eggs (Slvasa meets him at one point, is suspicious of him, but is powerless to do anything then). He creates a spaceship based on materials at hand. And when he finds out from Coulan (one of the androids, now posing as a revolutionary) that the original colony spaceship is situated underneath the Captain’s palace, and that is contains quantumbuster weapons, he knows what he needs to do to break out from the Void.

When the revolution is in full swing, Nigel breaks into the palace and steals the quanumbusters. But at that point, Bethaneve and Slvasa get suspicious and chase after him. He’s way too smart to be caught, but they come close. I wondered if he would finally be outsmarted by the desperate and paranoid Slvasa. Nigel has been manipulating the revolution through Coulan from the beginning, and that makes Slvasa’s paranoia even worse. Slvasa kills Coulan, who had manipulated Bethaneve with a Commonwealth ability, and charges south in pursuit of Nigel, who he thinks is a new kind of Faller.

When he gets there, with the support of the Captain, he is flattened to the ground by the roar of the rocket launch, as Nigel takes his Skylady into orbit toward the Forest. He rescues Laura, sends her back to the planet, where he believes she will be safe. Then he triggers the quantumbusters.

Back on the planet, the Captain kills the injured Slvasa, which was the first major shock of the last chapters. But I’d forgotten Edeard’s ability to go back in time, and one of the androids helps Bethaneve do this, and they kill the Captain before he can murder Slvasa, changing the fate of the planet.

Nigel’s plan, though, didn’t go as expected. The Void rejects Bienvenido, instead of being destroyed. The planet is flung far out of the galaxy, even to the open space between several unknown galaxies. And that’s where the book ends, ready for the next one… I knew Nigel’s plan couldn’t work as expected, because of the events in The Evolutionary Void, which takes place afterward. It wasn’t Nigel who would destroy the Void in the end. But I wasn’t expecting this kind of ending, which is I guess the best possible outcome. Now we have a paranoid Slvasa as leader of the planet, his old friends working against him, and they don’t have any teekay, no mods (I believe) to be controlled, and no telepathy. All of which can only combine to make the world a more difficult place.

Fortunately, Laura is alive and well on Bienvenido, now. During the last three thousand years, every half hour or so her history would repeat, due to the strange time effect in the Forest. As she escaped the Fallers and crashed in the huge desert, she could only die, as the journey was too long and far. But every half hour her ship would crash again, creating a huge mountain of crashed ships and stranded Lauras. Nigel and Kyssandra found them, all limited to the time of three thousand years ago, but continuing to pour out every half hour. Millions of her bodies were strewn all over the desert, unable to escape. Now that Nigel has rescued her from the Forest, she’s able to help the people of Bienvenido to advance. They have fighter airplanes to fight the Fallers, who still rain eggs down from the sky above, even though they’re out of the Void. Instead of the Forest, Nigel created a ring from which the eggs fall.

I kept wondering if the Fallers would escape and find their way into the Commonwealth, where the people there would have to fight an alien invasion. That’s still possible, but I think it’s more remote now that Bienvenido has been displaced. What comes next?


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