I recall reading this within the last several years. The book itself is likely less than 15-20 years old. It was science-fiction and I believe on the "hard" side. Written in English originally. I think the author may have been Alastair Reynolds--that's the impression I get from my memory of it. It might also be from Peter F. Hamilton. The whole incorporeal "higher plane" thing is kinda up his alley.

A bunch of native, sentient aliens live on the moon of a gas giant. The moon has a tropical climate and annually undergoes severe thunderstorms or a monsoon, brought on by interactions with the gas giant's magnetosphere (I think) as the moon completes its orbit (something about orbital resonance with the other three moons in the system too —the alignment of the moons causing radiation to bounce from magnetosphere to magnetosphere). During this time, the aliens procreate (somehow, spores maybe?) and die. Their consciousnesses are then somehow abducted by the gas giant's magnetosphere and are trapped in it, swirling endlessly around the gas giant system.

It may have also been the case that the consciousnesses ended up back in the new offsprings' bodies, like a kind of reincarnation. I'm not too sure about the last part.

Also, I'm pretty sure this was a very small piece of the story--a single chapter in the book that served as an introduction to the alien species, or a segue into something else. I don't think we see much of these aliens in the rest of the story.

1 Answer 1


It's Peter F Hamilton - the chapter is in 'The Reality Dysfunction', first part of the Night's Dawn trilogy.

The race are the Ly-Cilph. They have a nine year life cycle, at the end of which a conjunction of moons extends the flux tube from the gas giant causing devastating storms. They are able to store their knowledge in external nodes which survive the storms underwater - the next generation eat the nodes to assimilate the knowledge of the race despite there being no living adults to learn from.

the four large innermost moons line up once more. The distortion they cause in the supergiant’s magnetosphere acts like an extension to the flux tube. The agitated particles of the ionosphere which use it as a conduit up to the first moon’s plasma torus now find themselves rising higher, up to the second moon, then the third, higher still, fountaining out of the magnetosphere altogether. The Ly-cilph world swings round into their path.

When the first titanic bursts of azure lightning break overhead, the Ly-cilph stop their analysing and deliberations, and begin to impart all they know into the empty cells of the nodes which have grown out of their skin like warts around the base of their tentacles.

The adults use the flux tube energy to become incorporeal intelligences that roam the universe. One of them ends up on Lalonde and it's energy pattern somehow combines with a satanic ritual that allows the souls of the dead to return, linking this chapter to the main storyline.

The flux tube’s rain of energy penetrates the tormented lower atmosphere. It is embraced by the Ly-cilph. Their minds consume the power, using it to metamorphose once again. The nodes brought them sentience, the supergiant’s surplus energy brings them transcendence. They leave the chrysalis of the flesh behind, shooting up the stream of particles at lightspeed, spacefree and eternal.

  • 1
    Yeah, that's it for sure! That's strange, I've never read PFH's The Reality Dysfunction, only his Commonwealth Saga. I have no idea how I remember this part of the story. I guess it explains why it was a disjuncted memory I couldn't tie to any books I was familiar with. Thanks for identifying it for me!
    – BMF
    Jul 8, 2021 at 13:10
  • 1
    It's the second chapter - did you start the novel or read an extract perhaps? Either way, happy to help!
    – Michael
    Jul 8, 2021 at 13:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.