The Neutronium Alchemist
By Peter F Hamilton
The Neutronium Alchemist is the second volume in the Nights Dawn Trilogy by Peter F Hamilton.
In The Reality Dysfunction, the presence of an energy-based alien lifeform during the death of a human on the colony world of Lalonde somehow "jammed open" the interface between this universe and "the beyond", an energistic vacuum where the souls of dead humans (and possibly other races) have become trapped after death. They are able to cross back over into this universe and possess the living, gaining tremendous strength, agility and the ability to create and alter matter. They overrun the planet Lalonde in a matter of weeks and spread beyond to the planets Atlantis and Norfolk and to the independent habitat Valisk, among others.
The Kulu Kingdom colony world of Ombey is also infiltrated and a veteran of the Lalonde fiasco, Ralph Hiltch, is drafted in to help contain the menace. At the end of The Reality Dysfunction the truth of the nature of the threat is discovered by several survivors of a botched attempt to rescue the situation on Lalonde. However, a second threat has also emerged. Dr. Alkad Mzu, creator of the feared 'Alchemist' weapon of mass destruction, has escaped from Tranquillity and apparently seeks revenge on Omuta, the world that destroyed her own home planet of Garissa thirty years earlier.
Review by TCAs the second volume in Hamiltons Night's Dawn series – The Neutronium Alchemist (TNA) takes of right where The Reality Dysfunction (TRD) ended. And keeps on going and going and going. Yes, TNA is just as long as TRD – if not longer (very hard to judge as the size and font differs between the two books), my version is just under a thousand pages. If you haven't read TRD, do not even think about reading this book. There's no summary and no slow start. In fact you will be able to pick up TNA right after laying down TRD and just keep on reading – it works more like a second volume. It's a true sequel, not just a number two in the series.
So how does it stack up against The Reality Dysfunction, you ask? I afraid that the answer is not as simple as I would like: In a lot of ways it's not only as good as TRD, it's better, but in some ways is it's a bit weak. The good part: Hamilton not only keeps up the pace – he actually speeds it up. So much happens in this book that it sometimes left me kind of exhausted. I definitely can't recommend reading it in small pieces like I was forced to do (on the bus to and from work) the way I did. I had a real hard time keeping track of all the characters and their position in the story. I had no such problems during the last quarter of the book, which I read in two sittings.
The bad part: Maybe it's going to fast – I not sure about this part, maybe I wouldn't have had any problems if I had been able to read more the twenty minutes at a time. But maybe – just maybe, this book is taking just a bit to long to get on track.
Another thing that I pretty sure about is that the new ideas are spread pretty thinly in this book – not thinly spread compared to a lot of other books out there, but compared to The Reality Dysfunction. There are still a few really good new ideas in there, just not as many as in TRD.
Oh! I nearly forgot to tell you what this books is all about! As I said The Neutronium Alchemist takes of right after TRD, so Joshua Calvert is still out there in the universe doing good, the possessed are still trying to take over the universe and Dr. Alkad Mzu is still trying to get her hands on her doomsday weapon. As you may be able to guess from the title the main focus of this book is the Alchemist and the struggle to get to it. Joshua joins the hunt for the not-so-nice old Doctor Mzu and... well, tons of shit happens!
Written on 1st February 2000 by TC .