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The Skinner (Spatterjay) Paperback – 7 Mar 2003

59 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; New edition edition (7 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330484346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330484343
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 11.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,075,408 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.

Product Description

Amazon Review

In his second full-length SF novel The Skinner, Neal Asher offers an exhilarating clash of multiple factions--each with their own peculiar agenda--on the lethal waterworld Spatterjay.

The seas teem with hungry monstrosities, but Spatterjay holds immortality. When its giant leeches bite out gobs of flesh, they transmit a virus that forces regrowth, preserving the leech food supply. Some human colonists, the Old Captains, have lived many centuries. But beware of going native, like the legendary, repulsive Skinner whose undying head is now confined to a box...

Other locals include the worried AI Warden who polices Spatterjay, and the old, unruly war drone Sniper--as engagingly sassy as anything from Iain M Banks. Tourists arrive: a woman returning to ask whether her viral immortality was worth it, a human agent of hive-mind intelligence discovered among Earth's hornets, and a man 700 years dead but (thanks to preservatives and cyborg implants) still avenging the atrocities of Spatterjay's founding fathers in an even older war.

That ancient conflict involved the alien Prador, whose own war criminals fear the long memories preserved on Spatterjay, and are taking measures. Illicit intruders lurk, including an immortal sadistic psychopath and a submerged spaceship loaded with continent-busters.

Asher cuts deftly between strands of fast-moving narrative, laced with action, biological inventiveness, grotesque horror, and glints of humour. When Sniper the battle-happy drone gets swallowed by a giant "molly carp"--a protected species--he must wait in disgusted frustration for (ahem) natural processes to release him.

Multiple climaxes of combat, death, justice, sacrifice, and vindication lead to some nicely sneaky or witty reversals. This is an enjoyable, unpretentious, neatly crafted SF adventure. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Welcome to Spatterjay ... where sudden death is the normal way of life. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
Neal Asher, master of gritty science fiction, is back with a novel that makes even the intense GRIDLINKED seem like a joy ride.
Asher's future is a no place for the faint-hearted. This is a time when a slight miscalculation is all-too likely to take you out passing through the runcibles that provide instantaneous galactic travel. Don't worry, though, everything is all right, because this universe is run by "flawless" AIs.
The planet Asher springs on us in this novel is an entity as deadly as any of the criminals our ECS agent Keech is sent to wipe out. Every form of life on Spatterjay survives at the expense of others, including the no-longer human Hoopers.
Keech, perhaps, has less to worry about -- after all, he has been dead more than seven centuries, but that doesn't mean he doesn't pose a threat to some of the most heinous villains to ever appear in fiction. Erlin may have her own form of immortality to fall back on, but even she can die. And what of the Hive-linked Janer? What is truly his agenda on Spatterjay?
Asher floods the reader's senses with input. From planet to planet, he produces stark, stunning visuals of the terrain and the natives. Employing a wide-ranging cast of characters , Asher infuses each individual with animation and unique personality. It's a mark of his skill that some of the most appealing and sympathetic of his creations are the Subminds of the AI. With a minimum of strokes, he paints in fully fleshed-out characters. Come to think of it, that's how Asher brings THE SKINNER vividly to life.
And when you finish this novel, you'll know precisely what a horrifying idea bringing the Skinner to life is...
Asher delivers the goods every time. And, he leaves you eager for more.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mike Bartlett on 4 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
I discovered Neal Asher about 6 months ago when I first read Gridlinked and I was hooked.
After having read all of his books, I can safely conclude that The Skinner is certainly Asher's best work (with Gridlinked following a close 2nd). Without going into too much detail, this book is one of the most immersive pieces of science fiction I've come across.
One of the reviewers described aspects of Skinner as implausible - I strongly suggest that reviewer go off and read trashy Grisham-like novels! This is science fiction mate; landing on the moon once seemed implausible!
I digress...
I have never managed to draw such a rich imaginative picture whilst reading any other piece of sciene fiction (ok maybe Neuromancer). I clearly remember one scene where the main character of the book is flying this Star Wars-like airbike across the ocean infested with the most grotesque and bad-ass creatures imaginable - I could picture this scene as if I was flying alongside him! I could rattle off numerous other such experiences whilst reading this book.
Give it a go, hopefully you will derive as much enjoyment out of Asher as I have.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Cull VINE VOICE on 19 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
The Skinner was the first Neal Asher book I read, and it is still my favourite. Set on the highly dangerous waterworld of Spatterjay, which is infested by a wide variety of suicidally voracious aquatic life forms, this is a hugely enjoyable and action packed novel. The Skinner features quirky characters (both human and robotic), truly horrible and violent aliens, space battles, sea battles, undersea battles and an ecosystem straight from Hell, all of which makes for some terrific entertainment. After reading this, you will never look at the fish counter in your local supermarket in the same way again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J Hodge on 22 April 2002
Format: Paperback
If anyone is unsure about Neal Asher's ability as a writer, they haven't read either of his novels. After reading Gridlinked I have been waiting for the follow-up. The Skinner does not disappoint.
The Skinner is an excellent story set in a phenomenally engrossing future. Spatterjay, the planet upon which most of the action is based, is a superb piece of Sci-fi environment.
If you have not read either Gridlinked or The Skinner, go out and buy them both now! Settle in with Mr. Crane and the Old Captains for a week. If you are a Sci-fi fan you will love these books.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tyson Bridger on 11 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
The Skinner starts off quietly enough, but we are quickly introduced to a host of 'new' stuff. It does not matter whether you've read any of the other Polity stories, this particular one takes place on a fascinating planet that is home to a range of deadly sea-life and the aged Hoopers. Throw in some centuries old vendettas, alien politics, and a rather nasty chap called The Skinner and you are all set for a good read.
Great to have some of the AI drones, hornets, and even the intelligent sails getting a decent look-in.
Very original, I loved this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I. J. Sloan on 31 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is my first, and probably last Neal Asher.

Undoubtedly the guy has a vivid imagination, the world created in "The Skinner" is full of ideas, creatures and aliens, not all of which could possibly exist, but that's a small issue. In more capable hands this world could have been the foundation of a truly memorable book, or series of books.

The problem with "The Skinner" is that it is like listening to a fairly poor punk band for 5 hours straight. It has a novelty value to start with but after 5 hours, the constant thrashing away, the unremitting intensity without any respite, leaves you completely drained, bored and desperate to leave.

There is absolutely no light and shade, no breathing space whatsoever in the Skinner. The multi-viewpoints are pretty much the same, all constituted of similar people, all in the same situation at the same time. As the story moves (fairly quickly) from one group to another is is almost impossible to remember what each group are doing, and what happened to them, (and therefore what is happening to them now) because they are all so similar. You spend more time trying to remember what each group WERE doing than you do reading what they ARE doing !!

On top of that the narrative churns on and on, and for 80% of this book, it really gets absolutely nowhere. This is a book that is worth reading because it demonstrates better than any other example I can think of, the gulf in writing class between the likes of Banks, Reynolds and others, and this, and some of the self published stuff available on kindle. I know this was not self published, but Asher's writing style does not help in any way to develop clarity, and often comes across as something written in school.
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