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Cowl Paperback – 15 Apr 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; New edition edition (15 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330411586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330411585
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 10.8 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,109,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neal Asher lives sometimes in England, sometimes in Crete and mostly at a keyboard. Having over eighteen books published he has been accused of overproduction (despite spending far too much time ranting on his blog, cycling off fat, and drinking too much wine) but doesn't intend to slow down just yet.

http://theskinner.blogspot.com/
http://freespace.virgin.net/n.asher/

Product Description

About the Author

Born and still living in Essex, Neal Asher started writing SF at the age of sixteen. Since then he has had numerous stories published in magazines and book form, most recently his full-length novels GRIDLINKED, THE SKINNER and THE LINE OF POLITY.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Mike Richards on 20 Jun. 2004
Format: Hardcover
At just over 400 pages, Cowl certainly deserved credit for being a sleek, self-contained little book, that doesn't commit you to buying another endless series of novels just to find out what happened. The book never outstays its welcome, the pace is brisk and nothing seems extraneous. The plot, hackneyed though it might be, has enough polish to feel fresh and comes with enough new ideas to persuade you that Cowl is original.
Asher has sat down, come up with a series of fabulous SF ideas (biological time machines anyone?), thought up two lead characters that you care about - and yes, might even like and then put them up against a truly diabolical baddie. It sounds simple - but so many books don't get these basics right.
Enjoy the rollicking good pace, the superb action and the novel characterisations - Cowl is a fine book that stands apart on shelves filled with derivative bloated monstrosities.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve D on 6 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
I have come to the conclusion that Neal Asher is quite mad - or, at least, his books are insane. In his hands it's science fiction with the dial turned up to 11, in a Spinal Tap stylee (but without the miniature Stone Henge). He writes with real verve and drags you along for the ride, kicking and screaming. If you're looking for an inventive, wild, exciting ride, he's the man for the job, just be prepared to have all your preconceptions of stuffy old sf books ripped up and thrown back in your face.

I have no idea how to even start describing 'Cowl'. Most of his novels are set within his 'Polity' universe, but 'Cowl' is that awkward beast that is the stand-alone story. Set on Earth, we first meet Polly, a 22nd century prostitute, whose friend Marjae has recently died. When Marjae's brother Nandru, an ex-military type, turns up blaming Polly for his sister's death, he implants her with an AI device. When she awakes he tells her (in her head, through the device) that some people will turn up looking for her and he will tell her what to do when that happens. Sure enough, within minutes, U-Gov agents, led by a genetically engineered super-assassin called Tack, turn up and demand to know where Nandru has left a particular item. Through the AI device, Nandru gives Polly directions and she leads the agents to a mysterious item that looks something like a thorny vambrace, called a tor. Mayhem ensues (naturally), and she grabs the tor, which immediately (and bloodily) fixes itself to her arm and promptly drags her and the nearby Tack back in time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 April 2004
Format: Hardcover
Not sure I entirely agree with the other reviewers. The time travel concept is well handled and works. The author has really thought it through. Also there's some very good twists in the plot and an interesting resolution. But Cowl's motivation doesn't really stack up and there are a lot of unanswered questions by the end.
A good read nonetheless but I don't think it's as good as Gridlinked or The Skinner, both of which are absolutely excellent.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "james_webster" on 23 Mar. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Neal actually does a good job of revisiting the complicated time travel concepts (something about a pool table, a cue and a sheet) but this is not a book for the tube. You need a quiet corner and a chunk of time to get your head around mantisals and vorpal constructs and the probability slope.
The core of the book is the story of two characters in our future who travel back into the distant past. Chronologically they travel a long way but geographically most of the story is set in Essex. You'll probably only appreciate this if you live in East Anglia.
To comment further would risk spoiling the book - buy it and enjoy it. I love reading books a second time and I think this book will get even better when re-read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Eldridge on 8 May 2008
Format: Paperback
I bought this (though not on Amazon) as an impulse purchase knowing it wasn't related to Asher's excellent Polity series. While I agree with other reviewer's opinions in that it is good, I do feel that much of Polly's journey back through time was just padding. This story was in need of tighter editing.

A good read, but not a patch on The Skinner or Polity Agent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Cull VINE VOICE on 19 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
From the writer of the Polity series, Cowl is a stand-alone novel, which nonetheless has all the elements that make Asher's other books immense fun to read. Human factions from the future are fighting each other on a shifting battleground that encompasses all of recorded history, and most of prehistory too. The two vulnerable protagonists, from our near future, are caught up in the action and find themselves drawn back to the dawn of life on Earth - where the formidable Torbeast lurks. This is a fast-moving rollercoaster of a science fiction thriller, chock full of twists and clever touches.
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Format: Hardcover
Cowl is my sixth Asher novel to date and the only one to not be a part of either the Spatterjay series of the Ian Cormac series. However, Asher still weaves in his trademark weaponry, carnage, wide vocabulary and twisting plots into this standalone novel.

Asher's luxurious niche in the world of sci-fi makes his novels predictable in some ways. Firstly, the sheer amount of weaponry is always staggering. Cowl is no exception to this rule, where there are hand-held missile launchers, rifles, daggers, grenades, displacers, beam weapons and the always user-friendly/enemy-unfriendly nuclear weapons. This arsenal is unloaded upon the foe like manure on a corn field. There are numerous headshots, blown off kneecaps, chest-burrowing penetrations, brain oozing batteries and the pleasant exchange of hello during a torturous de-limbing. These are the action sequences which are present in all Asher novels that I've read and it's also why I keep coming back to Asher- no one quite like him can make me giggle as characters slosh through each other's gelatinous disembowelments.

Amongst the splattered brains and swift decapitations, Asher lets his vocabulary get the best of him. His word choices, while impressive, are entirely out of place in a novel which doesn't seem to merit the usages. I rarely need to consult a dictionary (maybe once each book) but Asher had me reaching for mine about a dozen times. The names of some ancient species didn't interest me much so I typically just ignored those Latin-prefixed names of animals which only appear in obscure non-fiction. Among the best words Asher used: thixotrophic, adipocere, promulgate, entelechy, pellucid, sylph and exigent.
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