Saturday, March 02, 2013

People what done influenced me - Peter F. Hamilton

They say that no work is ever done in a vacuum, right, and that's true. It's just human nature, especially when it comes to creative type thingies; everything that gets made is influenced by what's gone before it, and at the same time, influences what comes after.

I've always been open about the people and, well, stuff that's influenced me, and in fact, I've got a list of my influences on my Goodreads page.

I reckon, though, that it might be a cool idea to talk in-depth about some of them. Also, you might learn about some authors whose work you've never read before, and that's always awesome.

So, first up, I reckon I'll talk about the utterly brilliant British author, Peter F. Hamilton...

I can still remember the first time I read the Night's Dawn Trilogy, back before the dawn of the new millennium; it must have been before we hit the year 2000, because The Naked God was published in 1999, and I distinctly having read the previous instalments before that, and having to get the third book in the trilogy the very picosecond it went on sale. Here was grand space opera presented with a hard sci-fi edge, and I pretty much instantly fell in love with the trilogy (it helps that I read it not long after seeing Babylon 5; yeah, expect a future post about that series, somewhere down the line).

And then, later on, I read the Commonwealth Saga, the 'duology' of Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained...

Now, it's fair to say that both books in the Commonwealth Saga are proper doorstops, both of them coming in at over a thousand pages (in the paperback versions, at least), but I distinctly remember it only taking me a couple of days to read through each of them. The Commonwealth Saga didn't have the same metaphysical themes as the Night's Dawn Trilogy (no energistic space zombies, this time round), but the same sense of, well, epicness was present and correct.

Instead of space zombies with energy powers, we got humans who had worked out how to cheat death. We got one of the most creative sci-fi races I've seen in a long time, in the shape of the Prime aliens from Dyson Alpha, an entire race compromised (eventually) of one individual (an idea that I loved so much, I had to work out a way to include my own 'mono-sentient' race in Messiah's Shard, hence the birth of the kochanqa super-consciousness). We got the brilliantly weird concept of the Silfen Paths, paths through forests, that lead to entirely new worlds, just by walking down them. We got the concept of an alien that can core out a person's mind and personality, making them into a vessel for its own programming (yeah, I know that's an old trope, but it's really well played here; and yes, that's the kochanqa again, as well as... well, you'll find that out in the next novel in the Cynos Union series).

Hamilton's biggest influence on my writing, basically, is that he made me think Big Ideas.

I already had big ideas, but now I had Big Ideas. Big difference, there; it's the difference between the way Messiah's Shard began life, as a script for s student movie, that was distinctly more X-Files-ish in tone, and where it ended up, as the first volume of a whole space opera series, during which there'll be wars, and aliens, and love, and huge great flappy monsters, and 42 stars being destroyed...

Oh aye, sorry, you don't know about the 42 stars yet, do you?

But yes, what I'm saying is that if my own books can be half as gobsmackingly briliant as Hamilton's, I'll be a very happy bunny indeed...

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