Accused of crimes against humanity, a 31st-century explorer/scientist/statesman called Alchemist is overthrown, hunted, and tormented; meanwhile, a literal paradise planet that he contacted suffers its own rebellion and invasion, pitting gods against mortals.
Set after the turn of the year 3000 (shades of Battlefield Earth), Debe’s tangled series launch introduces genius Alchemist, who is the son of Zeno Ayers, a gazillionaire who is chief of a space-based version of the United Nations. Alchemist is unfairly accused of perpetuating genocide via a bioengineered plague in a city called Metropolis, which was erected personally by Alchemist on what had once been New York City. Billion-dollar bounties, mutant predators, and various assassins are after Alchemist, but the real perp is his clone brother, Mars. He insists he’s not evil; he just wants Zeno’s attention. Deeper in the cosmos abides Planet X, aka Nibiru, whose inhabitants are reincarnations of worthy deceased humans. Immortal, they have elevated themselves to godhood. But there is unhappiness in this heaven; Zeno sent ships to Planet X to retrieve his divinely reborn late wife. Disapproval among Nibirians results in an overthrow of their Queen Nebula, who is pregnant with Alchemist’s child. Her usurper, Alpha Iris, is a domineering “Titan” who, with forged scripture, passes himself off as the “Alpha God” and turns Nibiru into a cruel patriarchy. Another key player is Calvin, part-Samoan, part-cyborg supersoldier. Rejected by all employers except the military, he reluctantly re-ups in the “space army” to join the action both on Earth and Planet X, which strains his marriage. There are also passages from Henry David Thoreau and other names and atavisms of Greco/Roman/Mesopotamian gods and demigods hurled into the mix. The dialogue is largely expository and simplistic (“ ‘Is he OK?’ asked Zeno. ‘Yeah, he’s OK,’ said Dallas. “That’s good to hear. I knew he would be OK, because Alchemist is a strong man’ ”) Descriptions are reminiscent of thick gamer guides that outline fanciful empires and conflicts. The writing comes to life in detailed fashion when it turns to medical/physiological matters and procedures (including sex and torture). Comic-book buffs and fans of the sort of multivolume doorstops churned out by L. Ron Hubbard’s estate would be the presumed readership, and it’s worth noting that the high body count is pretty unsparing, even among principles.
A busy mashup of ancient mythology, religion, and far-future scenarios; unfortunately irony-free.