Night Without Stars follows on from The Abyss Beyond Dreams. The planet of Bienvenido is colonised by Commonwealth descendants and Fallers (a sentient lifeform capable of absorbing a human body and reconstituting themselves into a form that is indistinguishable from the original, except that their blood is not red). So a war rages without end on Bienvenido as the humans attempt to eradicate their persistent and insidious enemy.
The current government is little better than the one in The Abyss Beyond Dreams, and the Fallers have only made it worse. With the excuse that a unit is needed to catch Fallers living undetected within the human communities, the People’s Security Regiment (PSR) can drag in unsuspecting citizens and use some highly unsavoury methods for extracting information. Within this organisation is another unit, Section Seven, which really goes to town on internal security. Bienvenido is effectively a police state, and a nasty one at that.
There are also the Eliters whose genetic makeup means they have the remarkable traits of the original Commonwealth astronauts who were stranded there hundreds of years before, and because of these capabilities they are kept from positions of power, or a decent education, by the government.
Then on a mission to destroy one of the many ‘trees’ of Fallers waiting to drop onto the planet, astronaut Ry Evine discovers the existence of an unidentified vessel. The vessel lands with its precious cargo, a baby that has the capability to save the humans of Bienvenido from the Fallers. Suddenly the hunt is on, both by humans and Fallers to find this remarkable infant, but only very few are prepared to risk their lives in order to protect this precious bundle.
It is this final addition to the mix which really hots everything up as the inhabitants of Bienvenido set off in pursuit of the baby and its protector. So begins a race against time and foes, as the government forces in the shape of the PSR and Section Seven as well as the Fallers who want to destroy the infant, while the Eliters attempt to provide a safe haven.
Night Without Stars is yet another vast novel from Peter Hamilton which takes in the highly technical aspects of space flight and the more mundane yet terrifying conniving and conspiracies of the people of Bienvenido, who are paranoid about being taken over by the Fallers. Relationships come together and fracture through divided loyalties, while others consolidate through the sheer effort of protecting the developing infant and defeating the Fallers.
All these elements add up to a very entertaining read which, like all of Hamilton’s novels, seems to whip by despite being quite a sizeable tome to get through.
Night Without Stars was courtesy of Pan Macmillan via NetGalley