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Monday, July 21, 2014

Peter F Hamilton on Elves & Illegal Cloning

Last year, I attended a reading with Peter F Hamilton at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, England. I arrived early, and found the author seated at a table outside the scheduled conference room. He seemed relaxed, and chatted easily with those around him. I joined the group, enjoyed seeing him interact with others, and spoke with him when the conversation allowed. Then it was time for his reading. 

Firstly, he read a scene from a new novel called The Abyss Beyond Dreams, due to be released in the United States on October 21, 2014. The story is set in his Commonwealth series, which includes novels such as Judas Unchained and the Void trilogy. Hamilton's soft-spoken voice flowed smoothly, soaking into us like warm honey on a slice of freshly baked bread, and his phrasing seemed more rhythmic and poetic than what I remembered from The Night's Dawn trilogy set in his Confederation universe. The scene introduced us to Darren and Alicia, two young sweethearts enjoying the simple pleasures of small town life. Yet, by the end of the scene, Alicia's life lay in tatters, as she has learned that Peter is three hundred years old, and only looks twenty due to his bionic enhancements. Through illegal cloning, he has brought her back to life again and again, each time romancing her beginning at age seventeen, until something inevitably goes wrong, and their romance falls apart. As with his Confederation novels, and the short stories in Manhattan In Reverse, Hamilton entranced us with the possibilities of the future. Yet it was his characters, with all their hopes, dreams, and frailties, that drew us in, and breathed life into his story.

The second story he read from was The Queen of Dreams, a children's novel he wrote to entertain his children. It involves Princesses, Skylords, and Elves. These Elves are not like the ones from Middle Earth in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. They remind me of Punk Rock Elves, or the blue-skinned Na'vi in James Cameron's epic movie "Avatar." They stand seven-feet tall, have no hair on the sides of their heads, and plume-like mohawks that resemble avian plumage. Plus, they've got tails! The story stars Taggie and Jemima, two Human children who acquire magical powers after an encounter with a squirrel wearing glasses. The novel has yet to find a publisher in the United States, but is available in hardcover and digital formats from English booksellers. Hamilton's reading tantalized us with an Elf who surfed on rainbows rather than water, and rode a silver mirror shield instead of a Human surfboard. The story reminds me of Jane Johnson's novel The Secret Country (Volume One of her Eidolon Chronicles) or one of the seven novels in C. S. Lewis' series The Chronicles of Narnia. Given the inventiveness Hamilton builds into his Science Fiction novels, I'd say children of all ages should have fun with this story, as well as the illustrations in the book. After writing so many Science Fiction stories for adults, it's nice to see Hamilton stretching his wings, and trying his hand at a children's Fantasy. Let's hope his book sells well in England, and someone decides to publish it in the United States.

If not, I'll have to pick up a copy on my next visit to England. 

Although his allotted time had nearly expired, the next scheduled author had yet to arrive, so Hamilton pulled out one of his short stories. We all sat forward in our seats as Hamilton started off on a short story he had written for a few years previously. The story, set in London's Chelsea region, introduced us to an author looking forward to the publication of a book he views as his masterpiece. With its characterization, drama, and touches of humor, Peter F. Hamilton had us on the edges of our seats. But then the next scheduled author arrived, and we had to vacate the room.

To be continued...

Dragon Dave

Related Dragon Cache entries
Jane Johnson's novel The Secret Country

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