A Night Without Stars by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The planet of Bienvenido is on its own, isolated from the rest of the universe. And it’s waging war against the ruthless Fallers, aliens which have evolved to conquer whole worlds. Kysandra is leading an underground resistance, aided by biological enhancements that give her a crucial edge. But she fears she’s fighting a losing battle. This is especially as the government hampers her efforts at every turn, blinded by crippling technophobia and prejudices against enhanced 'Eliter' humans. However, if the resistance and government can’t work together, humanity on this planet will face extinction – for the Fallers are organizing a final, decisive invasion. Bienvenido badly needs outside help. But the Commonwealth, with all its technological expertise, has been lost to them for generations. Desperate times will call for desperate measures, or humanity on Bienvenido will not survive.
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This was everything that I'd hoped it would be, an epic and satisfying conclusion to this pair of books set in PFH's truly awesome Commonwealth universe. Set a number of years after the events of the preceding Abyss Beyond Dreams, the pace never really lets up and there's action aplenty, including a very cool battle at the beginning where an old foe from the past makes another appearance. We're also given snippets of information about what has come before, background information that helps to flesh put the vast plot lines that Hamilton weaves.
As usual, there are cops and detectives as a key characters, all part of the mission to rid the isolated world of Bienvenido from the relentless and ruthless Fallers. Things have changed quite a lot for the planet since it's expulsion from the Void which was depicted in the previous book. Now we're beginning to see the use of modern Commonwealth tech and devices, and society is divided into factions that either have the use of this tech, welcome it and want more, as well as those who yearn for the old simple times prior to the expulsion (or Great Transition as they call it). This creates paranoid society that the Fallers take advantage of. There are even 20th century style rocket missions into orbit to nuke the Faller trees which ring the planet. Very cool.
The story ramps up very quickly as a new player is deposited on Bienvenido in an attempt to enact a final blow to the Fallers. As well as events on the planet itself, we learn of the other planets in the group that are also marooned in starless intergalactic space, light years from anything else.
Without going into more detail of the various plot elements which you will be generally familiar with if you've read the previous book, I'll summarize in saying that this book is classic PFH. It's excellent modern space opera and is huge fun to read. It's typically (for Hamilton) quite long, but it's by no means arduous. It's the best sci-fi that I've read this year, and it was well worth the wait.
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