Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stand-alone, fast-paced and fun, 6 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Cowl (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.

That all happens in the first 20 or 30 pages, and it gets even madder after that, as Polly and Tack get dragged into a future struggle between genetically enhanced breeds of super-human called Heliothanes and Umbrathanes, who are travelling back through time to finish their war by hunting down and killing the eponymous Cowl, who himself has travelled back through time, killing millions in the process, to a time and place before the birth of mankind, and ...

Oh hell, just read the blimmin' thing, it's brilliant fun.
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