Author: Peter Hamilton
Original language: English
Publisher: Aspect, 1998
Not every fallen angel comes from heaven…
The ancient menace has finally escaped from Lalonde, shattering the Confederation’s peaceful existence. Those who succumbed to it have acquired godlike powers, but now follow a far from divine gospel as they advance inexorably from world to world. On planets and asteroids, individuals battle for survival against the strange and brutal forces unleashed upon the universe. Governments teeter on the brink of anarchy, the Confederation Navy is dangerously over-stretched, and a dark messiah prepares to invoke his own version of the final Night. In such desperate times the last thing the galaxy needs is a new and terrifyingly powerful weapon. Yet Dr Alkad Mzu is determined to retrieve the Alchemist – so she can complete her thirty-year-old vendetta to slay a star. Which means Joshua Calvert has to find Dr Mzu and bring her back before the Alchemist can be reactivated. But he’s not alone in the chase, and there are people on both sides who have their own ideas about how to use the ultimate doomsday device.
Peter Hamilton’s space opera saga, which began with the Reality Dysfunction, Part 1: Emergence and Part 2: Expansion, continues in The Neutronium Alchemist, another two-volume novel. Now the battle lines are clearly drawn, and more than half a dozen plot lines are charging ahead as humanity’s galaxy-spanning culture faces a terrifying revelation: souls of the dead are returning from the beyond to possess the living. The living, though competent and brave in the best science fiction tradition, must contend with history’s greatest generals and leaders, as well as some unexpected champions. Al Capone, it seems, makes an excellent interstellar emperor. How do you fight an enemy whose every soldier is also a hostage and who, if killed, will simply return to possess someone else? The dilemmas are not just technical, but moral, as people face the first real proof of life after death.
This conflict is far broader, though, than a simple apocalyptic battle of good versus evil. Among the possessors are some good souls who fight the risen dead even though it’s against their best interest. Conversely, plenty of the living see siding with the dead as an opportunity to further their own interests. Action, wonders, and mystery continue to characterize this high-quality series.