cover image The Neutronium Alchemist

The Neutronium Alchemist

Peter F. Hamilton, Subterranean (, $60 (936p) ISBN 978

This enormous middle volume of the Night's Dawn trilogy, first published in the 1990s, is a solid space opera best suited to readers familiar with the first book, The Reality Dysfunction (republished in 2009), and who have a lot of time on their hands. The sprawling 27th-century epic mainly focuses on the struggles of humanity against people possessed by the spirits of the dead. When Chicago gangster Al Capone is revived, he uses his organizational skills to plot the spirits' conquest. Separately, scientist Alkad Mzu seeks revenge on the planet that destroyed her own with a weapon of mass destruction that she developed. An enormous cast of characters and an introductory time line that doesn't cover the events of the first book will leave newcomers floundering, and readers expecting gripping moral dilemmas or complex philosophical discussions will be disappointed by the focus on violence (including several sexual assaults) and intrigue. (Jan.)