A Hole in the Sky by Peter F. Hamilton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsA Hole in the Sky by Peter F. Hamilton

A Hole in the Sky by Peter F. Hamilton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsHazel, who’s 16, lives on a huge starship called Daedalus. It left Earth around 900 years ago with plans to terraform a new habitable planet. But when they arrived, they found a nearly sentient species that they didn’t want to disturb, so they decided to try another planet. A few decades later, citizens who were disgruntled about that decision mutinied and, in the battle, much of their knowledge and technology was destroyed.

Now, 500 years later, most of the people of Daedalus live in separate primitive farming communities where they work hard to eke out an existence. To protect resources, those who can’t work and adults over age 65 are “recycled.”

When Hazel’s brother has an accident that prevents him from working, he and Hazel run away. That’s how they find the “cheaters” — the old people who escaped from the villages and hide in the forest so they won’t be caught and euthanized. The cheaters have been discovering and studying the now-ancient technology that was left behind. When they tell Hazel that there’s a leak in the ship and they’re all going to die soon, she sets out with her new-found friends to find and fix the leak.

A Hole in the Sky (2021) is the first book in Peter F. Hamilton’s new ARKSHIP trilogy and has only, so far, been released in audio format by Tantor Audio. A Hole in the Sky has the kind of setting and story I’m always up for — our future world that somehow devolved to a practically medieval setting, but there’s still technology around that nobody knows how to use. I’ve seen this done many times and I can’t say that Hamilton’s version is the best of these, but it’s fun and has the added advantage of taking place entirely inside a spaceship. Plus, it’s got other elements that I always love such as tall residential towers, underground tunnels, a waterfall, some cool aliens, and a redemption arc.

Characterization could be better, there are scenes toward the end of the story that go on too long, and a couple of times characters collectively do something stupid when at least one of them should have realized that it was a bad idea. There were a couple of times when I yelled something like: “What are you guys doing? You’ve just announced your presence to the enemies and you’re totally unprotected because you’ve spent your time doing something other than acquiring weapons!” And, sure enough, here come the enemies and our heroes are not ready.

I can’t figure out who the target audience is for A Hole in the Sky. The heroes are young and thinly developed, the plot is action-based and simplistic, and Hamilton often explains some basic things such as how gravity and weight works, so it often feels like a Middle Grade story. Yet Hazel talks about having sex with multiple boys, so that doesn’t feel right…. It doesn’t appear to be marketed toward teens, as far as I can tell at Amazon and Audible. Elizabeth Klett, the narrator of the ten-hour-long audio version, does a nice job but also reads the story in a way that makes me think it’s aimed at kids. I’m just a little confused by that.

I’m willing to try a sequel when it arrives. I like the setting a lot.

Published in March 2021. From New York Times best-selling author Peter F. Hamilton comes his first audio original, A Hole in the Sky, Book 1 in the Arkship Trilogy. Sixteen-year old Hazel lives in the Daedalus, a starship that is flying in search of a new world. The ship has been traveling for 500 years, searching for a world to settle in after having to abandon its last world. Everyone on board Daedalus lives a very simple existence in farming villages. The age of machines supplying their needs was lost during a mutiny 500 years ago. The captain regained control of the ship after a huge struggle. Now, with finite resources, everything in the habitat is Cycled, including humans, who essentially are suicided at 65 so they don’t deplete the biosphere’s resources. Hazel encounters the Cheaters, people who refused to Cycle, who tell her the Daedalus has been damaged and its atmosphere is leaking away. When her brother has a paralyzing accident which condemns him to be Cycled since he can no longer be productive, Hazel runs off with him to join the Cheaters. While with the Cheaters, she discovers that much of what has been told to the people living on Daedalus for the last 500 years is untrue, and soon, Hazel is in a thrilling race to help repair the ship and help the people of the Daedalus.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.