Polity Agent (Ian Cormac) Paperback – Unabridged, 6 July 2007
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|Paperback, Unabridged, 6 July 2007||
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Yes 580 pages of unexciting, relentless tedium and very little in the way of plot development.
This is an insult to fans of the series and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.
Last Asher book I buy...Once bitten twice shy.
Top international reviews
The darker side of Bank's Culture coin.
Recommended to anyone who likes Spaceships and Aliens
POLITY AGENT is filled with familiar characters, including Polity agent Ian Cormac and his sort-of supervisor Horace Blegg, the Sparkind supertrooper Thorn, the incomprehensible alien ship/being Dragon, the laconic dragoman Scar, the free-thinking ship/AI Jerusalem, which hosts the most advanced research on Jain tech, and the irreverent ship/AI Jack Ketch, now entwined with another mind and rechristened "Not Entirely Jack". Adding to the cast are several potential bad guys including "haiman" (human/AI hybrid) engineer Orlandine, who kills her lover in order to hide her secret cache of Jain tech, an android called "the Legate", who travels the stars spreading the joy of Jain tech, and a secretive entity called Erebus.
Repeat readers will probably be pleased to learn that POLITY AGENT features the same mix of invention, action, mystery, suspense, and lurid violence as earlier novels. They will also be pleasantly surprised at the number of secrets Asher reveals, including the true nature of apparent immortal Horace Blegg. Those enamored of contemporary Left-leaning Brit-SF, however, will continue to be distressed by Asher's elitist and authoritarian tendencies; Asher is the Tory version of Iain Banks. Some readers will complain that POLITY AGENT is not a complete novel, but I disagree; while much is left unresolved, the ending is not a cliffhanger, only a promise of more story to come. While hardly perfect, POLITY AGENT is Asher's best and most engaging Cormac novel since GRIDLINKED and possibly his third-best novel overall after THE SKINNER and GRIDLINKED.
N.B. POLITY AGENT continues a story in progress and doesn't do a great job of orienting new readers, or even assisting repeat readers who don't have a clear memory of the previous volume; new readers should begin with GRIDLINKED.
Aside from a few minor grips here and there I thoroughly enjoy how he weaves themes of eugenics, determinism, and the whole thing had an existential feel to it as well (but I may have read that into it, I think a lot of science fiction has elements of existentialism... at a base level anyway.) And I probably missed a few themes but I'm not a scholar or an academic.
Over all it's sort of an apocalyptic story about the dangers of humanity maintaining a healthy tension between taking evolution in our own hands and and destroying ourselves, or keeping a steady pace of change and progress so thus staving off destruction from various ways and means. But also relates to our immediate world where people are glued to their phones, computers, or whatever deice they now depend upon.
He has a very colorful and fun cast of characters. They tend to be a bit one dimensional, but I think in this case it works great since it would take away from the overall storytelling aspect.
I did find this book to feature Ian Cormac a lot less than the previous books.
Ian Cormac is a great protagonist, no nonsense, capable without being completely deus ex'y capable of anything, and just a very rounded character. I sometimes wish there was more of him in the books and less of the side characters, but that is only because Im more interested in this guy, not because the others arent worth reading about. And thats the only pretend negative I can think off.
Im not great at writting reviews, I just want to encourage anyone who has an interest in sci fi (not military) and has enjoyed the type of world building you find in Ian's books, to grab these ones. They are different and not quite as dense, but they are really very well written.
Some find these books to be political in nature, but I didnt, I wasnt even aware that there was discussions about it going on, so it must have melded in well with the story, and should not hold you back from reading the books.
Horace Blegg, the A.I. Jerusalem and ECS et al. The gang is all back once again trying to analyze and somehow contain the Jain nanotechnology, which threatens to destroy all sentient life in the known galaxy.
Once again Asher's storytelling is wonderful, fast moving, great characters and plausible,
little riffs on quantum mechanics and a grand vision of Space Opera as it should be.
We finally find out who Horace Blegg actually is, what ultimately became of the Brass Man and Dragon.
I love the way Asher narrates his Polity A.I.,'s which rule the known human galaxy. Ashers gift for description and invention make this book well worth reading. I would highly recommend you read the novels in order to make sense of the entire wonderful over arch of the story and Polity mythopoeia. Well worth the time and money if you love the best of current space opera.
I've returned the Kindle edition as "defective content". Instead I'm going to buy the mass market paperback, which is $2 cheaper (even though it costs the publisher more to produce than the Kindle version) and almost certainly more readable.
Still, curious of where the arc of the story lands.
This is a great book that continues to explore a number of themes that recur in Asher's Polity novels.
In Polity Agent, we finally understand the connection between the Maker (from Gridlinked), Jain technology, the Dragon spheres, and the rogue AI's.
Along the way, we explore the history of Horace Blegg and learn who and what he really is.
Ian Cormac doesn't play as big a part in this novel. We first meet up with him as he recovers from the injuries he sustained at the end of Brassman. He also gains a girlfriend, although that subplot is rather thin.
If you are familiar with Asher's earlier books, you'll be happy to see a Gabbleduck making a brief appearance. Even Mr. Crane has a cameo.
As well, if you've read any of Asher's Spatterjay novels and enjoyed the cantankerous war drone Sniper, you'll enjoy Cormac's new sidekick - a spider-like drone left over from the Prador war who is bored and looking for action.
One thing I enjoy about Asher's books is that he is meticulous about continuity. The timelines of each of the characters is consistent from book to book. My only suggestion is to read the books in order: Gridlinked, Line of Polity, Brassman and Polity Agent.