The Neutronium Alchemist
by Peter F. Hamilton
Cover Artist: Thomislav Tikulin
Review by Mel Jacob
Subterranean Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596063334
Date: 01 December 2010
Neutronium Alchemist represents the second volume in Peter Hamilton's monumental trilogy Night's Dawn. Typical of Hamilton's mega books, it features a classic battle between good and evil. In this case, evil comes from the dead trying to usurp the living and possess their bodies. Led by Quinn Dexter, an almost sympathetic anti-hero, they have taken over many worlds and now threaten Earth and all humans. An accidental breech to the Void in the first volume of the trilogy gave the dead access. Their goal is to occupy the entire universe.
One has to question the concept of a world of bodies controlled by the dead. Could they breed to create new human hosts? If not, the supply of hosts would soon exceed the number of the dead wanting bodies. That question doesn't arise in this novel. For some reason Hamilton has resurrected Al Capone and others to organize and lead the possessed.
The possessed acquire superhuman powers, and they easily defeat most efforts to destroy them. When humans manage to dispatch a possessed to the Void, the waiting ravening horde takes another human body. The humans fight, but have limited success. To win, they must somehow stop the dead from entering this universe.
A space opera with overtones of horror, Hamilton tells his story with multiple characters. The reader may get whiplash as he races from one section of the struggle to another. He excels at hectic scenes with plenty of action.
Originally issued in the late nineties, the trilogy was lionized by many. Now it is one of the classics of science fiction and, as such, Subterranean Press is issuing a signed limited edition. Advance paperback copies of it were distributed at the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio, last October.
Most recent novels by Hamilton, see The Evolutionary Void (2010), are still long, but a bit shorter. Multiple strands and many characters remain a Hamilton hallmark.