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The Skinner (Spatterjay 1) [Paperback]

Neal Asher
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

2 Oct 2009 Spatterjay 1

To the remote planet Spatterjay come three travellers with very different missions. Janer is directed there by the hornet Hive-mind; Erlin comes to find the sea captain who can teach her to live; and Keech - dead for seven hundred years - has unfinished business with a notorious criminal.

Spatterjay is a watery world where the human population inhabits the safety of the Dome and only the quasi-immortal hoopers are safe outside amidst a fearful range of voracious life-forms. Somewhere out there is Spatterjay Hoop himself, and monitor Keech cannot rest until he can bring this legendary renegade to justice for atrocious crimes committed centuries ago during the Prador Wars.

Keech does not realise that Hoop's body is running free on an island wilderness, while his living head is confined in a box on an Old Captain's ships. Nor does he know that the most brutal Prador of all is about to pay a visit, intent on wiping out all evidence of his wartime atrocities. Which means major hell is about to erupt in this chaotic waterscape.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; Reprint edition (2 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330512528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330512527
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,004 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 alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Neal Asher was born in Billericay, Essex, and still lives nearby. His previous full-length novels are Gridlinked, The Skinner, The Line of Polity, Cowl, Brass Man, The Voyage of the Sable Keech, Polity Agent, Hilldiggers, Prador Moon, Line War and The Gabble.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch your step...and your back! 26 Nov 2001
By A Customer
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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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Asher's finest 4 Aug 2004
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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ripping read 11 Jan 2004
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review 19 Mar 2007
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blinding follow-up to an excellent debut novel. 22 April 2002
By J Hodge
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great imagination, no heart 3 Jun 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I agree with other reviewers that this book is a tour de force of imagination. Where it fell short for me, though, was the lack of empathy. I found that I was struggling to read on because I didn't really care about any of the characters. A gesture towards altruism in the last chapter didn't help me much. Asher is a good technical writer, but give me the humanity of Ian M Banks' characters any day.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A previous reviewer had complained about the lack of solidly drawn, believable characters in this novel and to a certain extent s/he has a point, at least two of the perspectives, from which this story is told, seem to lack any accessible motivation. So why as high as 4 stars? 4 reasons.
Asher’s descriptive powers are first rate, he paints a series of truly masterful scenes of monsters and the violence they do. Then the action sequences of the story are well told, they are entertaining and exciting. Added to this the overall SF is good. A solidly imagined future history (not as realistic as many that have been created, but certainly one in which it’s fun to wander about for several hours at a time). What I’ve described so far would be enough to earn a 3 star recommendation from me. What lifts this novel up to a 4 star is Asher’s central joke. Obviously I have no wish to tell what it is here. However he carries on through the novel without it ever getting wearisome, indeed when I cottoned on to what he was doing after a few chapters I became eager to get to the next chapter to see how he was going to carry the gag further. I found it very funny, even laugh out loud funny at times and that’s worth 4 stars any day.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant.
This is the first book by Neal Asher that I read, and I absolutely loved it. I have since gone out and read a lot of his other work, and although good, The Skinner stands out as my... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bearman
4.0 out of 5 stars So good it has to be read attentively.
A combination of technological inventiveness that drives the narrative, whaling (sort of), vampirism (sort of), the ennui of eternal life, interplanetary war crimes and slave trade... Read more
Published 3 months ago by A. Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Asher at his best
Whether you are an avid Asher fan like me or new to tis author, this is a cracking story with well developed storyline and characters.
Published 4 months ago by K. Newell
5.0 out of 5 stars Asher's best book yet?
This is the near-impossible thing: boundlessly imaginative, bringing a brand new world to painfully vivid life, totally engrossing, thoughtful, philosophical, brutal, AND... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dr Lex
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sequel to The Skinner
Neal Asher has developed an astounding future universe concept - entirely internally consistent and vivid with plenty of action and excitement
Published 7 months ago by Jimbob
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh, I am glad that's over !!
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... Read more
Published 8 months ago by I. J. Sloan
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bit More Prador....
The Skinner takes a while to settle into the great story you expect from Mr Asher, but once the Prador appear things get much more interesting. Read more
Published 10 months ago by S. Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars The Skinner
Interesting addition to the polity universe, gripping from start to finish with Asher's usual collection of deranged and diverse characters. An enjoyable read.
Published 10 months ago by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Good fun, but gory
The descriptions of an alternative ecosystem was imaginative if a little gruesome. But a good swashbuckling story of villains and hero's.
Published 11 months ago by DaveSh
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