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Hamilton, Peter F

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1960-    ) UK author who began to publish work of genre interest with "Bodywork" for Dream Magazine in September 1990. His first sale had actually been to Fear but this story, "Deathday", did not appear until the February 1991 issue. Though he is best known for his Space Operas – typically massive volumes arrayed in series – he has published several short stories of note, including "The Suspect Genome" (June 2000 Interzone) which won a BSFA Award. His first series – the Greg Mandel sequence comprising Mindstar Rising (1993), A Quantum Murder (1994) – both assembled as The Mandel Files, Volume 1 (omni 2011) – and The Nano Flower (1995) – features an ex-commando investigator with the power of Telepathy, operating in a Near Future Great Britain altered by global warming (see Climate Change). Mandel's incursions into the Cyberpunk-flavoured world are violent and jagged.

Hamilton came into his own with the Night's Dawn or Confederation trilogy comprising The Reality Dysfunction (1996) [for complex vt history see Checklist below], The Neutronium Alchemist (1997 [see Checklist]) and The Naked God (1999 [see Checklist]), where an extremely broad-gauge imagination is freed. Humanity's galactic Confederation is menaced by a fast-expanding army of the returned dead who possess living bodies – Reincarnation via Identity Transfer mediated by Torture – and wield powers equivalent to advanced Confederation hand-Weapons. Larger-scale weapons include the Alchemist of book two, which employs artificial Gravity fields to either detonate or extinguish Suns. Through long lines of story, Inventions, Cosmology, Horror in SF and Space Opera tropes jostle massively; though the detail work is sometimes so sketchy as to seem exiguous, the scale and romping good humour of the enterprise are unassailable. A Second Chance at Eden (coll 2004) comprises stories set in the Night's Dawn universe (some modified since first publication to fit this background) and exploring such devices as the quasitelepathic "affinity" link between the Confederation's adapted humans and their machinery, including AIs.

Standalones include Watching Trees Grow (2000 chap), both a murder mystery and a thoughtful study of Immortality attained by careful human breeding; Fallen Dragon (2001), Military SF in which corporate asset-stripping of unprofitable colony worlds is opposed by Alien-derived Technology; the relatively weak Misspent Youth (2002), a Near Future morality-comedy about a celebrity who is granted Rejuvenation only to discover that mature wisdom is no match for the fizz of reactivated male hormones; and the far more ambitious Great North Road (2012), in which "trans-spacial connections" (see Stargates; Wormholes) allow instantaneous interstellar travel, freeing Earth from scarcity and environmental impoverishment, and allowing the establishment of a modest Galactic Empire dominated by the North family of Clones, two of whom are murdered. One main protagonist of the long tale is a detective who – in a detailed future police-procedural investigation (see Crime and Punishment) – must attempt to solve this highly dangerous case.

Though effectively a singleton, Misspent Youth is distantly linked to the Far-Future Commonwealth Saga, initially comprising the diptych Pandora's Star (2004) and Judas Unchained (2005), in which the galaxy-spanning war between humans and the effectively unpleasant Alien Prime is finally won by the former, with an important skirmish making use of planetary-scaled Weather Control. Though also of interstellar scope, the human Commonwealth is here smaller and less Utopian than the Confederation of Night's Dawn, and is linked by Matter Transmission (in particular, rail Transportation running through transmitter Stargate portals) more than Spaceship commerce. The related Commonwealth/Void sequence, set 1500 years later, currently consists of The Dreaming Void (2007), The Temporal Void (2008), and The Evolutionary Void (2010), plus the Commonwealth/Chronicle of the Fallers sequence comprising The Abyss Beyond Dreams (2014) and Night Without Stars (2016). The initial story deals with a vast new threat from an immense carnivorous entity or force or artefact resembling an expanding Black Hole at the heart of our own galaxy, which seems in danger of being ingested, though it appears to have "transcended" as Night Without Stars opens. The Abyss Beyond Dreams, set a century or so later, introduces the "Fallers", a Hive-Mind species capable of calving off aspects of itself in human form. Hamilton has an engaging fluency with galaxy-scaled Space Opera.

The projected Books of the Realms trilogy, opening with The Queen of Dreams (2014; vt The Secret Throne 2015), is children's fantasy. The trilogy has been retitled as Queen of Dreams; the second volume being The Hunting of the Princes (2016). The Salvation Sequence comprising Salvation (2018), Salvation Lost (2019) and The Saints of Salvation (2020), set in the distant Near Future around 200 years hence, depicts a galaxy united by Matter Transmission, but threatened by the discovery of Trojan Horse, an Alien Starship which seems to have crashed on a remote planet, but which leads to the near extirpation of Homo sapiens, a species selected by the Alien Olyix as a sacrificial offering to the God at the End of Time.

Peter F Hamilton should not be confused with Peter Hamilton (circa 1944-    ), editor of Nebula Science Fiction. [JC/DRL]

see also: Advertising; Secret Masters; Stasis Field.

Peter F Hamilton

born Oakham, Rutland: 2 March 1960



Greg Mandel

Night's Dawn

The Commonwealth Saga


Commonwealth/The Chronicle of the Fallers

Books of the Realms/Queen of Dreams

  • The Queen of Dreams (London: Doubleday, 2014) as by Peter Hamilton [Books of the Realms: illus/hb/Adam Stower]
    • The Secret Throne (London: Macmillan Children's Books, 2015) [vt of the above: Queen of Dreams: illus/pb/Rohan Eason]
  • The Hunting of the Princes (London: Macmillan Children's Books, 2016) [Queen of Dreams: illus/pb/Rohan Eason]

The Salvation Sequence

  • Salvation (New York: Del Rey, 2018) [Salvation Sequence: hb/Anna Kochman]
  • Salvation Lost (New York: Del Rey, 2019) [Salvation Sequence: hb/Anna Kochman]
  • The Saints of Salvation (London: Macmillan, 2020) [Salvation Sequence: hb/]

individual titles

collections and stories


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