The Reality Dysfunction

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 7, 1998

The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton

We had eight participants in the discussion of The Reality Dysfunction. This novel is the first in an epic space opera trilogy that features pioneers settling a wild planet, big mysteries from a dead civilization, dashing space captains, a princess, and ghosts. At 1200 pages spread over two volumes, it’s easily the longest book we’ve ever discussed (surpassing Stephen King’s The Stand).

Despite the book’s length, none of us had any trouble reading it. The characters, story and situations were compelling enough to keep us going. We liked the book’s many characters and plot threads — one person said “this is what space opera should be!” The characters are all distinctive and well-handled, although none are as morally pure as fans of Golden Age space opera might expect. In the sections dealing with supernatural elements late in the book, the writing style is reminiscent of Stephen King’s.

There were a few drawbacks. Some of us felt that too many plot threads were introduced too early, which meant it was a little hard to get “into” the book. The scientific elements in the book were not rigorously treated, so those with technical backgrounds had to mentally shift into “space opera” mode to read it with enjoyment.

Reading this book instantly converted most of our group into Peter F. Hamilton fans. Many had bought and read the second book, The Neutronium Alchemist. One person said “no one can read just one”. Several folks suggested that since The Reality Dysfunction was published in two parts, it should count as two books so that our group would be compelled to take the author to dinner. Since Hamilton will be coming to ArmadilloCon in August, we may try to do just that.

— A. T. Campbell, III