10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Fast paced and refreshing debut novel,
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This review is from: Gridlinked (Ian Cormac) (Paperback)
In Asher’s glittering future galaxy, Earth is at the centre of a ‘Polity’ of AI-governed worlds, connected by various ‘runcibles’ (portals which instantly transport matter to another portal elsewhere in the galaxy) so called because the interface adopts the shape of a reflective spoon.
Asher’s ‘Polity’, which is in effect a benign AI dictatorship, is seen in the novel as a safe, happy place to live, although the ‘quotation’ chapter prefaces gradually make us aware that AIs are capable of the manipulation of data and have, in effect, rewritten history to suit their own purposes. No system is perfect, as Asher subtly and cleverly points out.
Outside the Polity are other human-colonised worlds which have been supplying Separatists with arms and explosives. Ian Cormac a ‘gridlinked’ ECS (Earth Central Security) Agent, has infiltrated a Separatist cell and is forced to kill Angelina Pelter when his cover is blown, leaving her vain and psychopathic brother Arian vowing vengeance.
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.