Widescreen, action-packed science-fiction drama by a notable talent.
Cormac is a legendary Earth Central Security agent, the James Bond of a wealthy future where "runcible" transmitters allow interstellar travel in an eye blink. Unfortunately Cormac is nearly burnt out, "gridlinked" to the AI net so long that his humanity has drained away. He has to take the cold turkey cure and shake his addiction to instant online access, even while investigating the unique runcible disaster that's wiped out the entire human colony on planet Samarkand in a 30 megaton explosion ...
Hot on Cormac's heels is vengeful terrorist Pelter, backed up by his unstoppable, psychotic android killer "Mr Crane" and a goon squad of mercenaries. Other trouble has been brewing since 27 years earlier, when Cormac was humanity's ambassador to a vast, incomprehensible alien that called itself Dragon. Deep beneath Samarkand's surface there are buried mysteries, fiercely guarded. And is it true that Cormac's enigmatic boss is an immortal who's lived half a millennium and was born in the 20th century?
Asher's galaxy is full of colour and sleaze, and his story rattles along at speed. There are surprises, double-crosses, elaborate lies to be seen through, astonishing escapes from certain death, and last-minute reversals. Though the ultimate fates of the lesser villains seem mildly anticlimactic, the true bad guy is dealt with in spectacular style. Sequels are hinted. Fast-moving, edge-of-the-seat entertainment. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Meanwhile, on the planet Samarkand the unthinkable has happened. A runcible has exploded, destroying most of the AI controlling it and ten thousand people.
Cormac is recalled and advised by Horace Blegg (a strange Japanese and apparently immortal human) to relinquish the augments and AI links which he has been relying on for the last thirty years; to regain his human responses and investigate the disaster.
It’s an extraordinarily impressive debut novel, one of those you wish was longer. Most novels of 500+ pages tend to be inflated with extraneous fluff. This however, is dense, tight and wastes not a word.
Asher handles the multi-character viewpoint well and makes excellent use of pre-chapter ‘quotations’ from publications of the future which tell their own story and shed some light on the background to the action.
It seems clear however that the story will have to continue in another novel, since several questions are left unanswered.
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